A running rant about bad television, crappy products, horrible service, mindless politics, corporate and government ineptitude, moronic media, marketing overload, public idiocy, stupid entertainment, etc. Here's what's annoying me today:


Bad Hair Day

Friday is my day home with the kids (a 3-1/2 year old and a 5 year old). By now I've pretty much mastered most of the Mr. Mom stuff. I no longer have to call my wife every 10 minutes to ask what shoes they wear, what they eat for lunch, or where their coats are kept.

Its amazing how I can run a business, manage my finances, my computer system, and a dozen high-maintenance clients, and be so overwhelmed managing two little kids one day a week. I mean, I never did any REAL dumb dad things like forget one of them in the car, or leave them in the baby seat on the roof. But it was pretty rough for a while.

But the one thing I still just can't get a handle on is my daughter's hair. My wife has all kinds if barrettes and hairbands and little rubber band thingies that she uses on her, and can fix her up so she's the cutest kid on the block. On the days I have her, she looks like Tom Petty after a bad night. I spent 20 minutes today just trying to figure out how to get a barrette to stay in her hair. Nothing worked. Its just something a guy can't do. Almost got the hairband to work, until the little darling rips it out yelling "I don't WANT that one."

Well fine, darling. Then you're going out in public looking just like this.



Packaging Madness

I just ordered a new camera. Through the miracle of the internet/delivery-industry complex, it arrived barely 24 hours after I ordered it via Amazon. Camera arrived in a reasonable sized box, and cost something like $13 for delivery. Small price to pay since the camera cost me $40 less than anywhere else I saw it.

But I also ordered a memory card from a separate vendor. Again, I shopped around and got a super good deal, so I didn't grumble that much about paying $6 for delivery of a $9 item. It's all relative.

But check this picture out. See the little blue spec at the bottom of the box. That is the memory card (1" x 1.25" x 1/32") resting against the box it came in. (12" x 9" x 8")

That's just packaging craziness.

At least it wasn't filled with styrofoam peanuts. That really would have pissed me off.

This could turn into a really long post on this subject, but I just don't have the time right now. My son's birthday isn't too far away, and that might be a better time to get into the whole broader issue of packaging madness. Nothing is nuttier than the way kids toys are packaged.

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House of Card

So Bush's Chief of Staff Andrew Card resigned today. Can somebody tell me what this guy did anyways? You never heard him talk. Most Chief of Staffs are much more visible, aren't they? The only thing I ever remember him being personally involved in was interrupting Bush while he was reading My Pet Goat on September 11.

Karl Rove was supposedly the Deputy Chief of Staff, but you certainly heard a lot more about him.

That seems to be the way the Bush Administration works.
  • Andrew Card was Chief of Staff, but Karl Rove is really Chief of Staff

  • Bush is President, but Cheney is really President.

  • Rumsfeld is Secretary of Defense, but the "brains" (term used VERY loosely) behind the Iraq war was really his deputy Paul Wolfowitz.

It's kinda like the Wizard of Oz, huh. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.

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Trailer trash neighbors

We live in a very economically mixed town outside of Boston. Bought a house here about eight years ago, and have put a ton of time and money into fixing it up. It's a nice neighborhood of older houses, in very mixed architectural styles. The houses across the street are big Tudor style houses. About 100 years old. They are worth about a million bucks each.

Out our back door (which is our main entrance, and where we spend most of the time) is a 1970s style raised ranch. It hasn't been painted in 20 years. There are big piles of discarded lumber in the front yard. A couple partially dismantled cars sit in the dirt driveway. There is one of those plastic garages for the "good" car. A couple big piles of dirt with weeds growing out of them are on either side of the yard. Four trash cans sit outside the FRONT door. Until recently when the kids were out of diapers, the Diaper Genie sat on the front step.

There are four generations that live in this house. A nice old lady, a next generation couple that must be either her son or daughter (this seems to be the skankiest generation). A young couple that must be their daughter and her husband. And two little kids, just about the age of ours.

They have a pool in the back yard, and about 50 people come over nearly every weekend in the summer—they must have the best house in their circle of friends. They have one of those extra large blue plastic tarps that they make a tent out of. It usually goes up in the back yard around Memorial Day, and stays there till the first snow in the winter brings it down.

They are always friendly to us, and we are cordial to them. Even invited us to a couple of their parties. We dropped in once, just to be neighborly. It was very frightening. There were about 100 people in the back yard under the blue tarp. It looked like a block party at a trailer park in Kentucky. We left very quickly. We felt like The Keatons dropping in on The Bundys.

Or remember the episode of The Simpsons where the neighbors were trying to sell their house, and the prospective buyers looked out the window just in time to see Homer, laying in a kiddie pool, looking for the hot dog he dropped in the water. "Oh there you are". Picture that scene.

So this brings up many questions and dilemmas.
  • How do we teach our kids to not be judgmental, and that all people are created equal, when we go out of our way to avoid contact with this family.

  • How do we tactfully ask if they could at least keep their trash cans outside their BACK door.

  • When did we turn into yuppie snobs?

  • What the hell is going to happen when the old lady kicks the bucket? Will even more of the extended family move in?

  • If all the neighbors chipped in, how much would it take to get them to sell their house.

  • What kind of tall bushy trees can we get, that will fill out very quickly, that we can plant in the back corner of our yard, so we can block the view of their house from our deck.

  • How come I get nothing but porn, when I type "trailer trash" into Google Image Search. Oh great, now I'm gonna be in the top list of hits on Google for trailer trash porn.

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Anybody want a Derek Jeter glove?

I just realized I accidentally bought my son a Derek Jeter baseball glove. Pulled it out of the Toys R Us clearance bin last Fall, and didn't even look at it that closely until yesterday. Was like $7, so I just grabbed it. He starts T-Ball in a couple weeks, and obviously as a lifelong Red Sox fan, I can't send the kid out on the field with a fucking Derek Jeter glove. What are they doing selling a Derek Jeter glove in Massachusetts anyway? You think they are selling Curt Shilling gloves in the Bronx?

While I'm at it, I also have a 2006 Red Sox calendar that I'll throw in. Has a Johnny Damon month, a Mark Bellhorn month, an Edgar Renteria month, and a Bill Mueller month.

At least I didn't buy the Patriots calendar with Adam Vinatieri on the cover.

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Disposable everything

I just went shopping for a new digital camera today. The LCD window on my two year old one broke, and it's not worth fixing. Nothing is worth fixing these days. Two years is about the maximum life expectancy of anything electronic. Either it breaks, and costs more to fix than its worth, or it just becomes obsolete. Cameras, cell phones, DVD players. Anything.

I don't know how many DVD and CD players I've gone through over the years. They just stop working, and it always costs more to fix than a new one costs. I don't even look into fixing these things anymore. I just buy a new one. Throw the old one away. More junk for the landfill.

I have a brief guilty conscious about adding more junk to the landfill, some nightmare flashes of humans being crushed out of existence by piles of dead electronics, and then just heave it. Go to Best Buy and buy another one.

It doesn't even pay to buy a good one anymore. Even the good die young. If its gonna die or become obsolete in a year, I might as well just buy the cheap one to begin with, and act like I'm just leasing it for a couple years. At the end of its two year lease, I'll just get another one. Horrible attitude, but that seems to be life in the electronic aisle.

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Please. No. Anything but this.

Happened to see this cover about the same time I flipped past a screaming Al Gore on CSPAN. I wish this guy would just go away. Go home and eat some more donuts. He pops back every now and then like he's some shadow president. Always in a new form that is more annoying than his old form.

It was bad enough when he was a stiff pre-programmed drone. Now he's turned into a fat, freaky, screaming, kinda scary lunatic. If you can stand to listen, what he is saying might be true. It might even be what Democrats should have been saying for the past five years. But the trouble is nobody can stand to listen to the guy.

All the Democrats need is another way to self-destruct in '08. They already have Hillary and Howard Dean to help them do that. They even have John Kerry waiting in the wings if they need another option.

I still hold Gore responsible for this whole mess we find ourselves in. Only he could have lost to this imbecile we have as our President in the first place. Bush is probably the most unqualified, incompetent and dangerous President in the history of the country. And this guy lost to him. With that on his shoulders, no wonder he is acting like a freak.

Just go away, Al. Your party is just apt to do something stupid like nominate you again in '08



My blog may be stupid, but it's not spam

Hey, this sucks. I just went to do a post and got this message saying my blog has been identified as a "spam blog":

Blogger's spam-prevention robots have detected that your blog has characteristics of a spam blog. Since you're an actual person reading this, your blog is probably not a spam blog. Automated spam detection is inherently fuzzy, and we sincerely apologize for this false positive.

I wonder what those characteristics are: indiscriminate whining about something trivial? Hey, that's what most blogs are, aren't they? Actually there seem to be four general types of blogs:
  • The aforementioned whiners, of which my blog is a good example.

  • Right-wing nut job blogs. Anyone who is still defending Bush and Cheney, and uses the term "the liberal media" in nearly every sentence.

  • Loonie left-wing blogs. Lots of big words, much hostility, very little humor, and a link to moveon.org.

  • The get-a-life blogs, who focus on the minutiae of a particular video game, reality show, or washed-up rock star.

Well at least Blogger considers me an "actual person".



Adam and Leave; Arroyo and Out

I know this is the reality of modern sports, but will there ever be another Boston sports hero that finishes his career in Boston?

Adam Vinatieri and Bronson Arroyo aren't really comparable, but losing both this week is hard to take. Adam, more than anybody besides maybe Tom Brady symbolizes the absolute best of times in Boston sports. His clutch kicks in the Snowbowl, never mind winning field goals in two Super Bowls cemented his reputation as a Boston sports hero for all ages. Any now he''s gone. Can't blame him, really. He's unquestionably the best kicker in the game, and should be paid like it. In the scheme of things, kickers don't make that much anyway, so the Patriots should have come up with whatever it took to keep him. Sure, Belichick has proven that nobody is irreplaceable, but isn't there still some room for sentimentality in sports?

Bronson proved why Vinatieri was right to follow the money. He didn't. He placed love of the city of Boston and the Red Sox above his agent's advice, and his own best interests both financially and career wise. He'll be better off as the number two starter in Cinncinnati than in the bullpen for the Red Sox, but Bronson was just a Boston guy. I can't think of any recent Red Sox player (or really any professional athlete), that you really felt liked being in Boston as much as Bronson. He really seemed to be a part of the city. Tom Brady is still more Southern California than he is Boston. You truly believed Bronson loved this town, and there aren't many others you could say that about.

Both of these moves may be in the best interest of the teams' futures, but both of these moves suck for the sports sentimentalist in me.

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FAQ About Tip Jar Etiquette

Generally I'm not completely opposed to the concept of the tip jar. I freely choose to spend $1.79 for my grande coffee every morning rather than making a cup of Maxwell House before I leave the house. So throwing the extra 21 cents to the barista doesn't make me extra cranky. They usually give me good service.

But there are many questions and personal conflicts that the development of the tip jar has brought up.
  • If I order my coffee from the barista, but a cashier rings me up, who gets my tip?

  • What if the barista is a bitch today, but the cashier very courteous. How do I specify that only the cashier should get my 21 cents?

  • Is Big Coffee Corporation actually getting my tip, because they are paying their workers less figuring the tip is now a part of their wages, like most restaurants do with their waitstaff?

  • If the bill comes to $2.25, and I decide I want to get rid of one of the quarters in my pocket, rather than breaking a $20, do I now look like a cheap guy?

  • How come there are so many bills in the tip jar? Is that where things are going next?

  • Am I supposed to wait for the cashier to give me the change back so I can put it in the tip jar myself, or can I just say "it's all set?"

  • If I do the latter, do I seem like I'm only giving a tip because I don't feel like waiting (which may be the case).

  • If there are only 2 cents coming back, and the cashier is slow, then I really feel foolish waiting for her to give me back the 2 cents so that I can throw in the tip jar, don't I?

  • Say the bill comes to $2.05. Do I give a 46% tip for a cup of coffee? Do I give nothing? Do I drop in some of the change but secretly hold a couple quarters in my hand to keep?

  • If I know the bill is going to come to $2.05, do I pull out a $20, so it's easier to walk away with the change.

  • I suppose using the tip jar as the "take a penny dish" is in bad form.

  • We go to a local diner for breakfast quite often. It's a place where you leave the tip on the table, and pay the bill at the cash register. But there is a tip jar at the cash register. Am I expected to tip the cashier just for taking my money?

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Classic Bowling

Want further proof that there are too many channels on cable? ESPN's Classic Bowling. The thrillfest I surfed by was some bowling match from 1999. Who would watch this? Bowling on TV alone is pretty dubious. The idea of reruns of old sporting events, other than maybe a Super Bowl or a particular memorable World Series game is also pretty boring. OK, I'll admit to torturing myself by watching Game 6 of the 1986 World Series a couple times on ESPN Classic. But Classic Bowling? What percentage of my monthly cable bill is allowing me to watch this?

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Peanut-free Schools

Poor Mr. Peanut. He's been busted by the PC police.

We just found out that our kids' new pre-school is peanut-free. No PBJ sandwiches (our kids favorites). No crackers with peanut butter. I don't know if they are going to read the ingredients on granola bars and such to make sure there are no peanuts or peanut oil in them, but the school is a peanut-free zone.

I hadn't even heard of such a thing until a friend mentioned it a few months ago. I just laughed at the time. "You gotta be kidding me!" Well looks like the concept has gone mainstream. Seems like a pretty nutty concept to me. Something like 2% of kids are allergic to peanuts so you're gonna ban them from school? This is kind of stuff that makes liberals look like such nut-jobs.

What's next: cheese-free schools?

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Does Jim Braude really drink Carnation Instant Breakfast?

Isn't it funny how talk radio hosts in Boston just happen to have such personal feel-good relationships with their advertisers?

I like to listen to Eagan and Braude on WTKK while driving around at lunch time. Today, I get in the car and turn on the radio to hear what the topic is. Jim is all fired up about something. Some liberal crusade? Some sleazy politician? Nope. He's all excited about Carnation Instant Breakfast. He goes on for almost two minutes about how he drinks it every morning, and how it provides all he needs to start off his day. He couldn't live without it. He's not just reading ad copy, he's telling you something he really believes in, just as if it were a topic on his show.

On the way home, I learn that Michael Graham gets his carpets cleaned by Kennedy Carpet Cleaners. He tells us about how much he's learned about carpet cleaning techniques while rapping with the guys cleaning the carpets at his house. They even call him by name. "Hey Michael, this is how we get those carpets so clean. Come take a look."

And I've heard many times from Mike Barnicle about his "good buddies" at Lexington Toyota. He can talk for two minutes about how great these guys are. It's like getting a personal testimonial from your next door neighbor about Vinny at the corner service station, and what a great job he does on your car.

It's all such bullshit. I mean, obviously all advertising is bullshit, but this somehow crosses the line. These are guys people supposedly listen to because they are talking to you straight. Exposing corrupt politicians, or bad government policies. Yet in the next breath, in the very same voice and schtik as on their shows, they are selling you some completely bullshit testimonial about a product they've probably never used. They are all ad-libbed and delivered in first-person to sound just like the show.

I don't place a ton of authority in any of these guys, but Braude is pretty smart. Doesn't it take away a bit from his credibility to hear him segue so smoothly from a passionate defense of some liberal issue like gay marriage to a faux-passionate sales job for why he can't live without Carnation Instant Breakfast?

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911 Calls

Why do we have to hear the 911 call for every fatal accident, or other tragic incident that happens? What does that add to the public discourse?

This morning Channel 7 (of course Channel 7, although no doubt the other stations did it too) felt it was newsworthy to play the 911 call of the little 12 year old boy that was killed crossing the street in Bridgewater. I changed the station. I have two little kids. I don't need to hear that crap that does nothing but sensationalize this poor family's tragedy.

They are just shameless.

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My clients are driving me crazy today

Note to client with attached image: They may not have the frame we wanted in the right resolution. They are checking. This is an alternate shot that they do have. Do you like this shot OK?

Client: Can we use this photo larger? I am not happy with the size it is in this e-mail. Really doesn't give you a bang for the buck. What if I find a photo in a gardening book. Can you scan and use with credit to book? Call the publisher for permission?

Client friendly note I sent back: Yes, it will be a full page like on the previous comp. That's as big as I have it right now. Just for you to see the image.

Note I wish I could send back: You moron. How long have you been doing this job? This is a low res version in an email for you to approve the fucking photo of the pretty flower. Do you like the pretty flower photo, or do you hate the pretty flower photo? That's all I'm asking. I have to buy the photo in the right size, once you tell me its OK. Of course its going to be bigger than this. Do you want me to email you the 35 megabyte file, so you can see? How come you didn't ask me if it was going to have words across it in the magazine. And no, I'm not scanning a photo out of your fucking gardening book.

This is why my blog is semi-anonymous


Land of the Caretaker Governors

Raise your hands if you really believe Mitt Romney isn't running for President. He just came in second in the first 2008 straw poll, and has been on a national tour trashing Massachusetts for the past year. Come on. Mitt only came back from Utah to run for Governor, because he saw an easy victory, and a great platform to run for President.

Jane Swift was a joke. She was only governor because Paul Cellucci got bored of the job halfway through his first full term, and rode off to become Ambassador to Canada. Cellucci only became Governor because Bill Weld got bored of the job before him. And they kept winning elections just because the Democrats kept serving up horrible candidates (as they are well on their way to doing again) and making the case for divided government every day by their actions in the State House. Hey, I even voted for all of these guys.

If you are in favor of term limits, then the Massachusetts governor's office is your kind of place. Want your candidate to take a pledge to serve only two terms? How bout a pledge just to finish one term?

It's been this way ever since Bill Weld rode into the Governor's office in the Silber Shocker filled election of 1990. At least Weld, Cellucci, and even Swift made some attempt to act interested in the job for a while. Despite his transparent denials, Mitt has been running for President since the day he announced he was running for Governor.

Maybe this time we can elect someone who really wants to be Governor of Massachusetts.

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Blogs that look like mine

So I think it's about time I learned how to design an original blog template. Anybody who looks at many blogs has probably seen at least a few dozen that look like mine (minus the thumb, which I managed to modify).

This is especially true since my blog was featured a couple weeks ago on Designers Who Blog, and I still have many visitors who come from there. I probably don't have too much credibility with the design community when my blog design is just a stock Blogger template— albeit a pretty well designed one.

It's very much like stock photography. I try to discourage my own print design clients from using royalty-free stock art for just this reason. The image that they cheap out on to represent their happy and satisfied customers, could easily end up in a competitor's ad to represent their happy and satisfied customers. Or worse yet, end up in a porn site or some other embarrassing place.

On that note, as I was searching for an entertaining example to use as the image for this post, it suddenly became much funnier. My first random hit on a site in Blogger that looked like mine was the above hard-core gay porn blog.

My only excuse, fellow designers, is that as a print designer, my web design skills are limited. I know it's probably not rocket science, but I just don't technically know where to begin to design my own template yet. I'll figure it out someday, but blogging alone is very much distracting me from my paying work, so you'll just have to bear with this cheap stock template for a while longer.

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Hovering Moms

Took my 4 year old daughter to her little gymnastics class at the YMCA today. We're not training her to be the next Olga Korbot or anything. Its just a little something to do with her and her brother on Dad's day off.

There is one Mom whose son is in both her class, and my son's sports jam class, that just hovers over her poor kid for the whole class. She sits with her eyes transfixed to him. The second he steps out of line, she is out there to help him. Then she parks herself about 5 feet away, and about every 30 seconds, pops up to help him, or put him back in line, or tell him what to do. All the other kids are out there with the teacher on their own and doing fine. And he would be too, if his Mom would just let him be. And not to start picking on 3 year-olds, but she had this poor kid dressed like Todd and Lisa Lubner. Sweat pants pulled up almost to his chest.

I see a lot of this behavior actually. My sister, and a couple of my friends' wives behave the same way. They are in their kids' faces constantly. Sure its good they are attentive to their kids, but you have to give them some room to learn things for themselves. Once you have kids you start to see all kinds of examples of bad parenting. Not just the obvious things like Britney driving with her kid on her lap. Some of this parental behavior on the opposite extreme is nearly as bad.

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Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in

So just in time for the Sopranos return on Sunday, I had to up the cable bill to near $100 bucks a month. That's just nuts. We cancelled HBO last year since we weren't really watching it that much, and the cable bill was getting ridiculous. Only ended up saving about $14 a month. In the year since, the cable bill has crept back up to almost where it was. Today I call to see how much its going to cost to add it back, and after a 3 month "special offer" it's $26 bucks a month to add HBO. So $14 a month to cancel it. $26 a month to get it back. What's the deal with that!

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Dope with a Capital C

Just had to call Capital One because my credit card had expired, and they never sent me a new one. Chances are they sent it, and I threw it out because nearly every day, I get some new credit card offer in the mail from them, and I just tear it in half and throw it away.

But that's not what I'm complaining about.

The person on the phone sounded like she never finished the third grade. I'd rather speak to someone in India with a brain, than to speak to some home grown idiot. How can a big company such as Capital One have people answer their phones that can't even speak. You know after the first two words out of their mouths that you are in trouble. And this isn't one of those right-wing rants about learning to speak English. She had no discernible accent other than moron-ese.

So she tells me they will send me out a new one because that one must be lost in the mail. I ask her "Well, will it have the same number?" "Yes" "What if someone finds the lost one. Won't they be able to use it?" That question totally stumped her, but she moved on to attempt to read me the script to sell me some new service (although I couldn't understand what it was) I didn't need.

You know, I've dealt with this company before, and I'm tired of them. I just got an Apple credit card that has a lower rate anyways, and so far at least they've been courteous and able to speak when I've had to deal with them. From now on I'm using that one for everything, until that bank pisses me off.



Lost in the supermarket

Do you ever wonder why every drug store is a superstore now? It's because we have 20 different kinds of Colgate. Right next to 15 different kinds of Crest. Next to 50 other brands of toothpaste in a dozen flavors each.

And that's only the toothpaste aisle. Then there is the deodorant aisle. I like one kind of deodorant. The kind that's a gel, but not a liquid gel. Sort of a hard gel. But I can go to the CVS, stand there for ten minutes, looking at 500 kinds of deodorant, and still not find the one I'm looking for. See. I'm adding to the problem, because I have to have just the right kind of deodorant. I guess there are people out there who support each of the other 499 variations too.

And what about the cold medicine aisle. Must be 20 kinds of Robitussin alone. One for each possible symptom: cough, sneezing, congestion, sore throat. Then one with every combination of two symptoms. Then one with all the symptoms. Then each of those possible options in Cherry. Then the generic versions. CVSTussin in all the same options. So you stand there thinking. Well, I have sniffles and a cough, but I don't really have a sore throat. Where's the version for that? Oh, fuck it, just buy the one that covers everything, and get me out of this place!

It's nuts.

You know what causes this. Same thing that causes all the other ills of consumerism. Marketing! It's a thing called shelf-space. If there are more kinds of Colgate, then Colgate will take up more space in the aisle than Crest. And if you walk in and see more Colgate, then chances are you are going to walk out with Colgate. Why do you think I buy Robitussin? Because you walk into the cold aisle, and all you see is fuckin Robitussin.

So this is why the CVS is now as big as the supermarket was when I was a kid. And why the supermarket is the size of football stadium.

Fucking marketing.

[marketing] [products] [society] [suburbia]

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The Apprentice has Jumped the Shark

Many of you will find it odd that I ever liked The Apprentice, but for some reason I did. I ragged on my wife when she wanted to watch the very first episode, then became hooked on it. It's the only reality show I've ever watched other than the original Real World. And even back when I was REALLY an anti-business liberal, there was something about Trump that fascinated me.

So anyway, I've watched just about every episode (except the Martha version that was completely unwatchable). Every year, the formula becomes ever more transparent, yet I kept watching. There was always someone to root for, and someone to root against. In the beginning you actually learned something about business, and it was intriguing to see how really smart people in business made decisions.

But more and more it has just become about The Boardroom. Sure it's scripted as hell, but there was always some intriguing drama that would play out in the boardroom, and it was fun to see how Trump would react to things that unfolded.

But last night, it took me only five minutes to shut it off, and declare that it had jumped the shark. I couldn't even stick around to see how hot Trump's daughter was. It's so clear every year that there are at least a few goons put there by the producers just to annoy people and cause conflict. The fat guy in this episode is obviously the one this time. The show this week immediately devolved into a fight between him, and the obligatory blond bitch. I didn't even hear who was fired. I don't care. OK, I just looked, and it seems two of them were fired, and it was not the fat guy. Guess they need him for more conflict in later episodes.

But its not just the obvious manipulative casting. The tasks have become just stupid blatant ads for whatever client is paying for that week's episode. Trump's intro to the task is just a bad commercial. There is product placement more obvious than on The Price is Right. And the tasks show nothing about the contestants' business skills.

The first year, they would actually have to do tasks that would show how much business savvy they had. It was interesting to watch how things developed, where people made mistakes, where they made smart moves. Last night was some stupid text-messaging ad campaign to sell Gillette razors.

So it's over for The Apprentice. It will have to come off my Guilty Pleasures list. Now I'll have to be subjected by the wife to watching Supernanny. Expect a post on that soon.

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Channel 7 is the No News Zone

Rather than continuing to post about individual reasons why Channel 7 news sucks, I'll point to John Carroll's conclusion on last week's Beat the Press. After a report on Channel 7's recent fascination with stories on the occult, Carroll concluded that "Channel 7 is out of the news business. Carroll is great at getting to the core of issues of media stupidity, one of my favorite topics. Essentially that is the case, although I would argue that every local station except NECN is out of the news business.

They are in the "promote our own shows" business. They are in the "promote fear of everything" business. They are in the "whatever it takes to increase our ratings" business. But they are certainly not in the news business.


OK, If you need further proof that Channel 7 is out of the news business look no further than political reporter Andy Hiller's hard hitting interview with Gubernatorial candidate Christy Mihos last night. This was pathetic even for Channel 7. Sounded like one of those sarcastic Q&A's in the Improper Bostonian. Expect a report on Boston's Beloved Bartenders to lead the Channel 7 news tonight. How's this for The Hiller Instinct.

Hiller:"What is the correct pronunciation?
Christy Mihos "Actually, Mihos."

"What percentage of people get it right?"
"About 25 percent at best."

"Tell me three words to describe you."
"Tenacious… Oh, can I take that one back? Junkyard dog. That's three. Tenacious and junkyard dog."

"Did you make your millions, or were they given to you?"
"I made them."

"If you were a car, what kind of car would you be?"
"Boy I would really like to be a 1960 Ferrari Spyder convertible."

"If you could have any vanity license plate, what would it say?"
"No tolls."

"What's your favorite saying or quotation?"
"Andrew Jackson: 'One man with courage makes a majority.'"

"What's you favorite movie?"
"Forrest Gump."

"When's the last time you were drunk?"
"The last time I was drunk, I think I had a lot of wine on the millenium that night."

"Ever get high?"
"High, on what?"

"Drugs, marijuana…"
"Yeah, on marijuana. I can't smoke it but…"

"But you can inhale?"
"I can inhale, yeah."

"And when was the last time you inhaled?"
"I think 1972, my senior year in college."

The wise guys are already dismissing Mihos, insisting he can't win, but I'm not convinced. Mihos has money and a message: Politics as unusual. With so many voters here dissatisfied, he could be the next Governor. I'm Andy Hiller, and that's my Instinct.

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Blogging the Oscars

Here's a post of random thoughts while watching the Oscars.

Going into it, here are my thoughts. With two little kids, I don't get out to the movies as often as I used to, although this year, I have seen a decent number of the films nominated. Walk the Line was the best movie I've seen this year, so will root for both Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix, both of whom were awesome. I saw Brokeback Mountain, and thought it was good, but far from great. I really didn't buy the relationships in the film at all. I saw Munich last night, and thought it was good. I saw Crash several months ago, and thought it was pretty good. Certainly better than expected for a Sandra Bullock movie, but I was surprised when I heard it was nominated for Best Picture. I don't know about that. Saw Junebug earlier this week, thought it was a good film, and that Amy Adams was much more worthy of Best Supporting Actress than Michelle Williams in Brokeback.

  • Hope the show starts soon. I really can't take this mindless interviewing of celebs on the red carpet by dopes.

  • They aren't gay cowboys, they were hearding sheep. They were fucking shepherds.

  • Cute intro with all the ex-hosts.

  • This may be a long night for Jon Stewart.

  • Nicole Kidman is hot.

  • How old is Dolly Parton? Should I insert a plastic surgury joke here, or say she still looks amazing.

  • Funniest moment so far: Will Ferrell and Steve Carell decked out in bad makeup to introduce the makeup category. Runner up: Ben Stiller in green suit sketch.

  • How come Don Knotts wasn't included in the sequence of stars that died this year. Sure he was mainly a television guy, but there were the classics The Reluctant Astronaut and The Incredible Mr. Limpet. Certainly should have been a mention.

  • OK, too many lame awards eating up air time. I'm not going to make it to the big ones.

Postscript. I'm really tired of Billy Crystal, so Jon Stewart was a good change, but I think he's going to be a one-termer like Letterman. He seemed to fall kind of flat. Glad Brokeback Mountain didn't win Best Picture. It just wasn't that good. But Crash? Glad to see Reese Witherspoon won Best Actress. Must see Capote soon.

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Buying Red Sox Tickets

I just spent two and a half hours staring at my computer screen, watching it refresh every 30 seconds waiting to buy Sox tickets. This was after I supposedly won the opportunity to buy green monster seats.
    Red Sox Ticket Purchase Opportunity - Congratulations

    Dear Cranky,

    Great news! You've been selected for the opportunity to
    purchase Green Monster tickets for a Red Sox home game in
    our second chance drawing.

It's more like "you may already be a winner" in Publishers Clearing House. Even if you happen to win the opportunity to buy tickets, its still a long shot and a pretty frustrating process.

The first hour, I was in the Virtual Waiting Room, waiting to be randomly selected. After about an hour, I was selected, and got to pick a game. Here it gets even more annoying. Of course the Yankee games are all gone. I try to select other hot games: Like any September game against a division rival. Sometimes it looks like I have a shot. The game is available. I select two seats (that's the limit here-2 seats for 1 game at $110 each). I even get past the enter secret word screen. I think I've made it. Then I get the dreaded error page.

What do you do here? Keep hitting continue like it says, or does it really mean the game is sold out? I don't know. So I try selecting other games. Maybe earlier in the season games. Maybe midweek games would be easier. Maybe games against crappy teams. Maybe interleague (yuk) games. Maybe midweek, interleague games against crappy teams. Nothing works. Always sold out, or the error page, which really means sold out.

Finally after 2 hours I started going for standing room tickets. Even most of those were sold out. But finally I "lucked out." (if you call paying $64 for two standing room only tickets "lucky") But it's a Sunday afternoon game in May against the Orioles, and I'm a Sox fan, so I'll take it. It's a good deal. I've never been in the Monster seats before.

Even after you hit, you are still worried, though. You have 60 seconds to put in all your info. That's really tough. Especially when you get to country, and have to use a pull down menu to scroll through every country in the fucking world until you get to the U's. That killed at least 10 seconds.

Really, I'm lucky because my wife has connections to get good seats to a couple games a year, and I have a client who usually gets me tickets to at least one game. So this won't be my only opportunity. Really the only way people really get Sox tickets these days is to have some kind of connection, or to pay scalper or ticket agency (legal scalpers) rates. There really is no easy, legitimate way to buy tickets any more. I'm sure this sounds nuts if you are just about anywhere else in the country where your team plays to half empty stadiums, but this is what it's like to be a Red Sox fan.

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You're doing a heck of a job, Brownie

Turns out Bush may have been right about something for once. The video released yesterday of a briefing of President Bush by former FEMA Director Michael Brown immediately before Katrina hit, shows Brown fully engaged, fully aware of the potential catastrophe approaching, and hauntingly accurate as far as his predictions of what could happen. Maybe his training as International Arabian Horse Association commissioner did some good afterall. Certainly more than Bush's qualifications to be President (remind me again what those qualifications were?) Bush asked not a single question during the briefing, yet assured local authorities that the Government was fully prepared to handle the situation.

Then of course weeks later, Bush, along with Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff would deny that there was any way the scope of the disaster could have been anticipated, and would set Brownie up to be the scapegoat.

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Sorry to get all "PC" on you, but...

Not to be politically correct or anything, but it struck me last night watching Jack Williams tease and report the story of the murder of a co-ed in New York City, that it's a pretty outdated use of the word co-ed in 2006. He referred to Imette St. Guillen, the NYC college student who was murdered in Brooklyn, at least three times on the 11:00 news as the New York co-ed. Interestingly the station's web site doesn't use the term at all.

It's a pretty strange term isn't it? I guess the use of the word must go back to the days when women were first admitted to what were previously all-male colleges. But in a day and age, when there must be nearly as many women as men in college, it seems pretty odd and sexist (again, sorry for being PC) to refer to any female student with a term that pretty much says "you're not quite equal." What's wrong with just New York college student? Guess it just doesn't sound as tabloidy.

I'm really surprised the PC police aren't all in a tizzy over this.

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