Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Sophie's Choice of Orthodontics

Well, we've been here before. I take what in my mind will be a "short break" from this thing and next thing I know I'm clearing out the mice and other vermin that have collected in it due to lack of use. This time, an attempt at the NaNoWriMo was my undoing. NaNoWriMo, other than being gibberish, is short for National Novel Writing Month, a campaign to get people to write a 175-page novel in one month with more emphasis on quantity than quality. Well, I gave it the old college try, but about 40 pages in I managed to burn myself out to the point of making me not want to write, I guess it's been just about two months now.

So now that I've let enough time elapse to actually want to use a keyboard again, I need to make mention of a commercial that I watched recently that disturbed me on a deeply emotional level. It's a seemingly innocent spot for Invisalign brand invisible braces. But there's something very cruel going on that I think needs to be addressed. Take a look and see what I mean.

Is anyone else wondering why the hell this mother decided to give one twin regular braces and the other twin Invisaligns? I've been beating my brains out trying to think of a rational explanation for why any parent would do that to their children, but I just can't think of one. The only thing that comes close to a legitimate excuse is that the family's dental insurance wouldn't cover Invisalign for both girls. But if that's the case, would any mother really screw one kid over for the sake of another? I can't help but think that the rational decision here would be to find an option that was a little more modest than the Invisiligns that both sisters could use.

But this mother obviously wasn't interested in treating both of her daughters with human decency. Not only did she sacrifice one daughter's dental and emotional health for the other's, but she obviously took steps to provide her favorite twin with ample opportunity to rub Braceface's nose in the situation. I can only assume that mommie dearest made the popcorn that only one of the girls could eat, and then put it in the lap of the very girl who couldn't eat any of it. And I don't think the Invisalign twin owned that camcorder that she was parading around the bathroom to get some great action shots of that torture device her sister had strapped to her head.

Finally, we have the final shot of the happy, metal-free twin flashing a sign that says "Thanks Mom" while Railroad Mouth forces a smile that I can only assumed shredded the inside of her cheeks and lips. Am I the only one who thinks that Mom was standing behind the camera threatening to kill a baby seal if she didn't smile?

I'd be very interested to talk to the person from Invisalign's advertising department behind this ad to find out what mental space they were in when they came up with this slice of hell. Call me sexist, but this had to have been made by a woman; one who grew up in a V.C. Andrews-type household where the matriarch regularly physically and emotionally abused her children. This 30-second scene may be the only outlet that this woman had to vent the grief and rage that she had pent up for years.

On the other hand, it could have just been a poorly-written premise made by some dude still hungover from yesterday's twenty-four martini lunch. Either way, it's kind of a shitty commercial.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Defending Post-Black Album Metallica (but not Lou Reed)

Honestly, I'm kind of pissed off at Metallica that I even have to write this post. Their upcoming collaboration with Lou Reed, Lulu, is shaping up to be quite a turd. Never have I seen such a universally panned album, and the son of a bitch hasn't even been released yet.

And make no mistake, the criticism is warranted. I heard 30 seconds of the first single, and I can't imagine how anyone thought it was a good idea to have Lou Reed ramble senselessly over what sounds like some B-material riffs that Metallica had lying around.

What I don't think is fair, however, is the claim that everything Metallica's made after "The Black Album" hasn't been any good. This seems to have been a general theme for the past fifteen years or so, with the most recent of such claims coming from Yahoo! blogger Rob O'Connor in his list of "Ten Worst Heavy Metal Albums." In it, he puts Load, Re-Load, and St. Anger in for a tie at the very worst of the list. Now, the fact that Mr. O'Connor has made the decision to wear a shag carpet top hat on his blog banner automatically makes me question his judgement.

Aside from our divergent taste in hatwear, however, I also disagree with O'Connor's assessment of those three albums. I want to take a look at each album and point out some examples of why these albums have some very well-done material to add to the Metallica catalog.

Load (1996)

Let's get one thing out of the way right now. The idea that Metallica sold out because they cut their hair for this album is really fucking stupid. Cutting your hair has absolutely nothing to do with your ability to make music. On top of that, having long hair past a certain age can be summed up with a recent picture of Dee Snyder from Twisted Sister.

Dee is the transvestite on the left

This picture alone is reason enough for me to make an allowance anytime a rocker cuts their hair. Beyond hair argument, however, I think a Load offers a lot of good music.

"Hero of the Day"

I'd say what got most Metallica fans' panties in a twist over Load is the fact that it's such a departure from the type of fast metal that Metallica had perfected in previous albums, with break-neck headbanging riffs and solos that add at least another 2 minutes to each song. Hero of the Day represents Metallica's experimentation with something different, however, with an attempt at something more subdued and melodic with a solo that lasts 20 seconds at most. I suppose liking this song is dependent on whether or not you can let go of the fact that this is not the same Metallica that did Ride the Lightening or Master of Puppets.

"Mama Said"

Yes, it's Metallica doing a country song. But's a good song. It actually reminds me of "Nothing Else Matters", a song that starts as a mellower, acoustic-leaning song that builds into something heavier by the end. I don't know, I may be alone here but screw you it's my blog.

ReLoad (1997)

I'm sure people who didn't like the direction the band had taken were using the sequel them that runs through this album as proof that the band had truly "jumped the shark," but doing so ignores the fact that this is another well-made album.


This brings backs some of the old-school feel of Metallica, bringing back the speed of their early days with a riff that I defy anyone not to involuntarily bob their head to at the very least. I will say, however, that this song landed in the "overplayed" category, so I do understand if it got a little old for some folks after a while.

"Low Man's Lyric"

This is a song that got absolutely no attention, which I think is a shame because it's some damn fine work. This is like nothing I've ever heard Metallica do before or since, and I love that they experimented with something that strays so far from what put them on the map. A great song that will never get the nod it deserves.

St. Anger (2003)

The general complaint about this album was that the production value sucked. Well, as a Neil Young fan, poor production value is kind of endearing.

"Some Kind of Monster"/"The Unnamed Feeling"

Usually I prefer songs with some melodic value, but these are just great songs for when you're pissed off. As a fat kid I'm usually pissed off when I work out, so they're perfect for me. Granted, neither of these songs are destined to be classics, but that doesn't mean they're worthless. And certainly not representative of one of the worst heavy metal songs of all time.

I guess the only point I can really prove with this post is that music is inherently subjective. So many variables account for whether or not a person likes a song that it's impossible to definitively validate or dismiss a musician's body of work. I suppose Rob O'Connor is well within his rights to make the opinion that Metallica has sucked for the last decade and a half. But I just can't accept that they've put out the worst heavy metal albums in a world when Limp Bizkit has multiple albums on record.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cowboys Fan Stunned At Jets Fans' Reaction To 9/11 Disrespect; Jets Fans Stunned By Cowboys Fan's Stun Gun

I mentioned today's blog topic on Twitter earlier in the week, but feel like it's something I need to revisit in more depth. If you follow me on Twitter (if not, what's wrong with you I thought we were friends) then you may remember my mentioning a story about Larry McKelvey, a Dallas Cowboys fan who was arrested a week ago for using his stun gun on some Jets fans in the stands during the pre-game 9/11 remembrance ceremony.

Witnesses claimed that the altercation stemmed from McKelvey's refusal to stand for the national anthem and his decision to talk on his cell phone while "Taps" played to commemorate those killed in the 9/11 attacks. Not surprisingly, this aggravated several fans sitting around him, and when they confronted him by not clearing a path for him to get to the rest room, things naturally got physical and McKelvey claims to have been defending himself by using the stun gun he was carrying.

Now, I'll be honest and say my first impression of this story was that McKelvey was solely at fault if for no other reason than being a Dallas Cowboys fan. Those who know me for my hatred for Philadelphia Eagles fans may not be aware that my hatred for Cowboys fans is much older. Historically, "America's Team" has been comprised of every arrogant, preening, dirty-playing jerk off that could be found in the league. And their owner, Jerry Jones, would be my pick to replace Satan in the 9th circle of hell should I ever remake Dante's Inferno. So naturally, the kind of fan who would be attracted to such a team must be at least 45-55% jackass.

But judging a person at all without ever meeting them is already kind of a dick move (I'm still going to do it, mind you) but to do it solely on the basis of what football team he follows is a bit much, even for me. So I did a search on a few of the articles written about the incident, and as I've found more and more lately, my opinion lands in the gray area where everyone has some of the guilt.

By way of explanation for why he didn't stand up for the national anthem, McKelvey claims to be a Jehovah's Witness and that standing for the national anthem is against his religion, which seems to jive with the religion's views against "worshiping" anything other than their God, which includes allegiances to one's country.

However, I find it difficult to believe that talking one one's cell phone during the remembrance of the death of several thousand people is an argument of religious belief. And even if it was, hows about stepping out to the bathroom before the opening of 9/11 ceremonies. Did McKelvey really not think the powers that be would have something planned for the 10th anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history? I don't give a shit if you were living under a rock for the last 3 weeks. You'd still have to know that tensions would be running a little high that day, especially in New York.

That being said, I'm sure that there is some guilt to be passed around to the Jets fans who got into it with McKelvey. I have nothing against them voicing their displeasure at McKelvey, but physically intimidating McKelvey crosses a line that really shouldn't be crossed unless McKelvey himself was already seriously threatening physical harm. Even if McKelvey stood up and told everyone in his section that everyone who died in the 9/11 attacks deserved to die, he'd be a complete piece of shit but he wouldn't have given legal cause for physical provocation.

And then there's the stun gun. Since the charges against McKelvey include illegal possession of a stun gun, I can only imagine that he should have never been allowed through the gate with it. So how the hell did he get it through on a day when security was likely at least a teensy bit tighter than usual. If we have to stand in line and be felt up any time we want to go watch a football game, I'd at least like to know that the procedure actually serves the purpose of keeping dangerous shit out of the stadium. But I guess that's too much to ask. Now, if McKelvey just whipped the thing out and started zapping people just because he didn't like the looks on their faces, then I'd wonder where his standing as a Jehovah's Witness would hold up. But again, I have no idea if he used the thing in self-defense or because he's a douche bag.

At this point, if you're not sure where I stand on this whole thing, it's because I really don't, either. It seems as though the authorities and public opinion have sided against McKelvey, but even though I'm inclined to agree I can't be sure since I wasn't there. The only thing I do know is that it's yet another instance of a group of people getting together and showing the rest of the world just how fucking ridiculous we can be as a species.

There were so many points in the day where this whole thing could have been avoided. McKelvey could have left the stun gun at home, or stepped out before the start of the ceremonies rather than make a show of his beliefs, which he knew would rile people up even ona normal day. Security could have actually been competent enough to find the illegal weapon that McKelvey must have had bulging out of the side of his pocket. Hell, the crowd around McKelvey could have just grumbled a few words to themselves about how he was being an asshole and let it drop at that. Instead, we wind up with the news clip above that once again makes me a little more embarrassed to be a human being.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Brief Stupid Interlude

OK, let me just say that although I haven't posted in about a week, this isn't the start of another 3 month stretch of silence. I've just been pretty busy the last couple of days, as my job is one that gets a lot busier when really big hurricanes are pointed at my fair city. So in all likelihood I won't have the time or energy to post anything through the weekend.

Therefore, I want to post what may be my favorite in a series of commercials from All State starring Dean Winters (you might know him as Dennis from 30 Rock, dummy). I'm well aware that these are really stupid commercials. But much like the Geico cavemen, I can't help but laugh every damn time I see them. This one in particular is my favorite, so I'll probably watch it for a chuckle while my house blows away in a couple of days.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Welcome To The Bahamas As Imagined By Ebenezer Scrooge

I think that the thing that most pisses me off about rich people is their inability to comprehend the reality that 99% of us live in. Only a rich man, for example, could have possibly come up with those "Recession 101" billboards that have littered the Philly landscape lately. One in particular states that "Bill Gates started Microsoft during a recession." Oh, well isn't that grand. I guess all I need to do is be lucky enough to create (or should I say steal) a once-in-a-lifetime idea and all my troubles will be over! Goodbye, financial turmoil!

This distorted world view can be the only explanation for the Seasteading Institute, an organization heavily backed by billionaire Peter Thiel that seeks to "build sovereign nations on oil rig-like platforms to occupy waters beyond the reach of law-of-the-sea treaties." These islands will implement libertarian ideals, which Details magazine describes as including principles such as "no welfare, looser building codes, no minimum wage, and few weapons restrictions." So yeah, essentially these guys want to build miniature Bankocks in international waters so that they can squander their money the way they see fit and not blow it on complete wastes of time like the public good.

And Peter Thiel, one of the program's main backers? You may remember him as the guy who recently told kids not to go to college. OK, so maybe those were not his exact words. But he's funding a program to give entrepreneurs fellowship grants in the six-figure range to keep them out of college, claiming that colleges are a classic "bubble" and are not worth the money. This is a man who made his money in the computer industry, and he has the balls to call anything a bubble? And to top it off, this is what he looks like.

LinkI'm gonna go ahead and let the picture speak for itself here

Now, I'm not naive enough to think that college isn't insanely overpriced, especially compared to what it used to cost. But to take the stand that college isn't worth bothering with anymore means you're willing to ignore the fact that college grads stand to make, on average, almost a million dollars more in their lifetime than people who only have a high school diploma. And those with master's degrees or doctorates increase their lifetime income even further.

So investing money in an expensive college is a risk, considering the job market is growing smaller and more depressing by the day. But we can't all be entrepreneurs. I don't know about you, but I don't have a billion-dollar idea just sitting in my back pocket, waiting for some bored billionaire to invest in it. And let's not pretend that being an entrepreneur is risk-free either. I can't help but imagine how many guys put their life-savings into an idea that could truly help the world, only to fail miserably while the guy who invented the Billy Bass laughs his hillbilly ass off in his log mansion.

Order now and I'll personally come over to your house and hit you in the face for being so stupid

So the fact that smug assholes like Peter Thiel got lucky and pulled Pay Pal out of their asses does not mean they understand how the world works. It means they just so happened to come up with the right idea at the right time and got an obscene amount of money from it. They should not be the people from whom we're taking our cues on society.

These libertarian "utopias" are a perfect example. I'm actually looking forward to watching this experiment fail miserably. Think about it. These guys are looking to build and maintain structures in the middle of the ocean while ignoring concepts like "building structures to code" and "paying fair salaries to the workers."

I'm guessing nothing will happen right away because these guys will be really careful to dot their "i"s and cross their "t" first. Then, they're going to start letting small things go in the name of saving a few bucks. Maybe they won't put on that new coat of paint or install new carpeting. Next it'll be a lighting system that can surely go another few months without inspection or maintenance. Eventually something will need to be repaired, but it will be much more cost-effective to use a metal cheaper than steel to reinforce some of that rigging that holds up the island. And finally, one day, while I'm online trying to pay my cruelly expensive student loan payment, I'll get a chuckle reading about how a couple hundred libertarians sank to the bottom of the ocean while clutching their remaining sacks of money. It'll be great.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Yeeeehaw! I'm Gonna Be President, Sumbitches!

Ah, Rick Perry. His brand of crazy shitkicker is exactly what we need in this field of weak ass Republican presidential candidates. Screw the Tea Party and their posturing, neo-Conservative bullshit. Michelle Bacchman and Sarah Palin are in a dead heat for this year's Upper Class Twit of the Year competition. And Mitt Romney, I almost can't even get the words out...Mitt Romney is a Mormon!

What we need is a man's man. A guy who's willing to blow the back of a coyote's head clean off should it so much as look at his dog the wrong way. A guy personally responsible for winning the war against Mexican drug cartels. We need a man who is "authentic, a truth-teller, and a job creating machine." Therefore, God must favor us mortals as the New York Times announced that Governor Perry will be making a definitive act to run for the presidency.

But Governor Perry's balls are far too large to just say "I'm running for president." And it goes without saying that taking part in the Iowa Straw Polls are for women and San Franciscans. That's why Governor Perry's definitive act of running for president will apparently be waving his dick at his opponents from South Carolina and New Hampshire this weekend. South Carolina is obviously going to be on Team Perry from the get go, but I wouldn't be surprised if New Hampshire buckled under his manliness and voted him in as well.

I, for one, cannot wait for his campaign. Ever since Donald Trump proudly stepped out of the race after single-handedly forcing President Obama to release his birth certificate (which was obviously forged) we've been left without a voice of justice for the real America. We've found that voice, and now the country is back on track to return to its former glory.

Or, if nothing else, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert will have plenty of material for the next few months.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Wow, They Really Let This Place Go

Yeah. I really followed up on that promise to just get back to writing for writing's sake, didn't I? I have little in the way of an excuse other than I've recently had some pretty big changes at work, it's been hot as hell lately, and, well....I really just haven't felt like it. I was having a hard time for a while finding the motivation to write, so I figured I'd just step away for a while. Then, after a couple of posts from the Mrs. made me realize I really was neglecting this old girl, my new problem was that I didn't really have a whole lot to say. But, we're in luck today because after about a month of taking the train into Philly for my new job, I'm ready to bitch about other people again.

First, let me start off that saying the new job is great. I still work for the same image-conscious organization so I still can't get into specifics, but let's just say the days seem to be going much faster now. And since I take the train through the more congested parts of Philly I don't have to with it's mouth-breathing drivers, which is another big plus. But I wouldn't be me if I didn't complain about random minutiae, so let's concentrate just concentrate on the mouth-breathers that I share the train with, shall we?

While the train ride itself is a lot better than driving all they way to work, I'm still looking at about an hour and fifteen minute one-way commute when you account for the drive to the station and the ride itself. That would be fine if nobody went out of their way to annoy the piss out of me along the way. But then, what are people put on this earth for if not to annoy the piss out of me?

My fellow passengers are the most frequent culprits. The most inexplicable such passenger is the old lady who sees me as a harmless young white man who is safe enough to cram in next to on a tiny seat. This has happened more than once, and I just don't get it. I try to make myself an unpleasant person to sit next to on the train. I sit on the side of the train with the narrow benches to make the space next to me as small as possible. This morning I even sat on a seat that was so loose that it sagged under my sizable ass and seemed ready to collapse if anyone else dared try to use it. I was even reading a book about the horror movie revolution of the 60s and 70s, and I'm told that the look I make when I'm reading looks similar to someone getting ready to commit sexual assault. I figured anyone, especially an old lady, would want to avoid someone who could be imagined to look like this:

I'm done with my newspaper if you'd like to read it.

But no, they plop right down next to me with a smile that indicates that it's my privilege for them to feel comfortable enough to ride next to me. One lady even tried to give me a religious pamphlet. I took it from her, rubbed it on my crotch, and shoved it in her face while screaming obscenities. OK, I didn't do that. I politely refused it. But that's actually showing more spine than usual, as normally I'd take the pamphlet and pretend to read it while she sat next to me.

As annoying as old ladies tend to get, they at least don't cause the physical discomfort that comes when a guy who has not applied deodorant in 6 years pops a squat next to me. Why? Why can't you you spend $3 a month and 20 seconds a day to keep me from spending the next half hour gagging into my shirt. And I know that other cultures frown on the use of deodorant and that ranting about it probably makes me seem like a classless schmuck. But dammit, so does vomiting on a train full of people.

To be fair, there are more than just annoying passengers on the train. There are also annoying employees, the most annoying of which is the disembodied voice that blares out over the P.A. system during the trip. It would be sufficient to tell me that our next stop will be in Morton. You don't have to yell that the next stop is MORTON! The microphone is really a fascinating technology. If you talk into it normally, it sends a signal to an amplifier that will project your voice at the appropriate level. Which is especially important when you're telling people that the first car is the QUIET CAR!

Another employee that I never see but would like to hurt is whatever back-office twit decides to keep trains in service that should have been sold for scrap when Menudo was still popular. Remember that sagging bench I was telling you about from this morning? That really should not be an issue, should it? With public transportation prices on a constant rise in Philadelphia, you'd think they could afford to stop using the train cars with broken seats covered in cheap faux-leather and broken air conditioning. Especially considering it's been a balmy 95 degrees for the last three fucking weeks.

Well it appears all that complaining has made me tired. It's obvious that I need to start flexing the writing muscles again, so hopefully (I'm not making any promises) I'll start popping up back here again on a more regular basis. Fortunately, I'll have plenty of time on the train to think about some more pointless shit to talk about. It beats trying to make old women explode with my thoughts.