Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Princess Cakes

I have no idea what I should name this post, so Princess Cakes (what Marge just told the bullies that Bart can't get enough of) seemed as apropos as anything.  Today on the way home from work I was listening to the Almanac segment on the radio station I frequent.  This is a half-interesting, half-off-the-wall segment including different birthdays, deaths and other events that happened on this day in history.

One of the events today was the anniversary of the death of the horse that played Mr. Ed.  Wikipedia didn't confirm the date of Mr. Ed's passing for me, but if you want to learn more about how Mr. Ed was apparently like Elvis, feel free to take a look at the death section the Mister Ed Wikipedia entry.  Mister Ed's death didn't really do much for me, but then I started thinking about the implications of there ever actually BEING a Mr. Ed, a talking horse whose death we would recognize more than 40 years later.

Mr. Ed was introduced to the American public way back in 1961.  It was a simpler time - and as my wife points out - they were only just beginning to realize what they had with the television.  Kennedy's inauguration would be the first live televised inauguration the same year.  Talking people were just starting to get overdone - but the industry was revolutionized with a talking horse.  What else was happening in 1961 that might give us a glimpse in to why people would be entertained by a TV show whose lead character was a talking horse?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

My Jobs

For those of you who have spent a lot of time around me lately, you are probably getting tired of my updates on the Steve Jobs biography.  You could care less that he didn't shower often because he thought his diet of apples and carrots would keep malodor at bay.  The fact that he walked around the office barefoot a good deal of the time simply grosses you out.  And his relationship with Bill Gates and Microsoft is really none of your concern.  From what I've told you, you probably think the guy is an asshole, and quite frankly, he was.  So why do people like him so much?  What has made me continue turning the pages - probably as quickly as any book I've read since the Hunger Games?  It's a perfectly valid question - and one that, as I pass the halfway point, I'm still trying to answer.

Today, I think I got it.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Who is the Idiot?

Last night, we attended Green Day's American Idiot at the Oriental Theater in Chicago.  Before I get in to my deep thoughts about Billy Joe's foray in to musical theater or my opinions about how this musical/rock opera/whatever you want to call it stacks up with some of the other musicals I have seen, I need to share a few pre-show observations.

What crowd do you expect with a cast like this?  
A musical based on a Green Day album draws the strangest collection of people I think I've ever seen.  There were grown up punks who you could tell have moved on from their hard-living, but their faces and tight jeans tell where they've been.  There were the stodgy old theater goers that probably have "season tickets" and likely wanted to throw up 15 minutes in.  There was the middle-aged gay couple with the leather pants - not tight leather, loose "Van Halen-leather" in Natalie's words.  There was a group of teenage girls whose parents must have dropped them off, screaming intellectual things like "You're hot!" at the lead (when we saw them before the show Natalie asked if they got lost on their way to The Vow).  There was fat Harry Potter wearing shorts and a tshirt on a 30 degree night in Chicago, fashion-challenged Dorothy who needed to click the heels of her ruby slippers and return home to find some clothes that matched, and my personal favorite - the girl with the Green Day t-shirt.

I'm sure we've all heard the unwritten rule regarding wearing a Green Day shirt to a Green Day concert (or Counting Crows to Counting Crows, or whatever band to their own show) - but this girl must have needed an update to the rules for this situation.  My personal opinion is - not only is the tshirt a little too dressed down for the theater, but you can't wear the band t-shirt to the rock opera based on their album.  Though the next time I seen Mamma Mia, I might have to find an Abba shirt at Goodwill and blow some people's minds.

If you've gotten this far, I give you a choice - there will probably be spoilers in the coming paragraphs, so if you plan to see American Idiot at some point and want to be surprised, stop reading.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Risky Proposition

I haven't posted anything sappy since MLK Day, and with Valentine's Day upon us I figured, why not keep up the holiday tradition here at VLV?  Many of you have probably seen the headlines (you can enjoy the whole moment here) about Matt Grevers, the Olympic swimmer who proposed to his girlfriend over the weekend on top of the medal stand.  As a former high school swimmer, its nice to see swimming in the headlines at a time other than the Olympics.  For the record, if I had tried something like that, I would have suffered an unceremonious 3 foot drop because my wife would have pushed me - not in a surprised/shocked Elaine Benes way, but in a "I don't have a weapon, so knocking him on his head on a hard floor is my best defense" kind of way.

I'll grant him that it was a unique way to pop the question, and it appears that this particular proposal had a happy ending.  Unfortunately, every once in a while this happens making the whole sport of public proposals a terrible lottery that ends with lots of winners and one loser that will never rebound from that kind of public humiliation.  Or you just end up like Michael Scott.

In addition to all this thought I'd given to proposals over the last couple days, I got a call from a good friend last night who, after several years of my wife badgering him, finally popped the question to his long-time girlfriend.  So I guess with all this love in the air, I thought I'd share my own story of one of the most terrifying nights of my life.

Back in 2005, I had just graduated, spent a month in Greece, three months continuing my career as a pool boy, and a month looking for a job.  I had no money, my wife was in grad school, we were both living with our respective parents and I thought - what a perfect time to propose!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Author or "A whore"?

As anticipated, the wildly popular "Chicken Sh!t" guest blog by DLee yesterday broke the floodgates of guest blog content and now everyone is clamoring for a spot on VLV.  Okay, by everyone I mean one more person. That person is Toddy Todd himself and he's come out of the gates with a vengeance.  I'm feeling slightly guilty for taking all of this content from Anub, but I'm not sure this post "puts random to shame" like Anub is clamoring for.  Here is Todd - analyzing the difference between an author and "a whore".  Sorry James Patterson, you're first on the list.

Last night as I was getting ready for bed I noticed on my night stand was a paperback copy of the novel “Private” by James Patterson, a recent birthday gift from my mother. This is the first in a new book series by Patterson. He’s mostly known as the bestselling author of the Alex Cross series, the Women’s Murder Club series, the Michael Bennett series, the Maximum Ride series, the Daniel X series, the Witch and Wizard series, the Middle School series, and the Holy Shit When Does This Guy Not Write series.

OK, I made up the last one, but really is there anyone out there willing to admit they’ve read all of this crap? Of course there is and that’s why he keeps pushing this stuff out. I first read “Kiss the Girls” in 1995. It was the second book in the wildly popular Alex Cross series which then turned into an unusually forgettable Morgan Freeman movie and we all know there aren’t too many of them. Anyway, I actually enjoyed the book immensely. It was my kind of book. It had short chapters so my wildly short attention span wouldn’t drift away and the end of each chapter had that hook, big or small, which made me want to read on to the next chapter and so on and so on until I had finished the book. Shortly after that I went back and read “Along Came the Spider” which is the first book in the series. I enjoyed that as well. Over the following three years I read each of the books that were published in the Cross series.
Where is Morgan Freeman?  

It was shortly after that when a friend’s wife introduced me to the Women’s Murder Club series. I got through about the first ten chapters of “First To Die”, when I realized something. The bad guy in this story was no different than the bad guys in the Alex Cross books I had read. The only thing that’s different was the locale (San Francisco vs. Washington DC) and the hero became a heroine(s). I never finished the book and I started to become wary of the author as the endings of the Cross novels were becoming more and more ridiculous. I then started noticing that whenever I walked into a book store there was a new Patterson book being displayed or if I looked at the NY Times Best Seller list, there was that same Patterson book. The guy had become a friggin whore. I was done. Hell, in the last 4 years the gigolo has authored or co-authored 37 novels. That’s right 37! He’s crapping these things out at the pace of practically a book a month. What does that translate into for pages per day? Come on!!! That’s more crap than Anub used to produce each day at 1:15pm after lunch at Ole’. Hey, I’m willing to give Patterson credit for the dedication he has to his craft, and I certainly appreciate the thought my mother put into the gift (she was the one who bought “Kiss The Girls” for me in ’95) but take a vacation already James. You’re making the rest of us feel worse than we already do.

When are Trey Parker and Matt Stone going to dedicate a South Park episode to this guy and turn him into some Transformer/Swamp Thing/Teenage Mutant Ninja turtle mutation? It reminds me of this:

In closing I went to Google Images and put in the term “James Patterson Crapping Out Books”. The first 8 images were either of Patterson or one of his book covers. Somehow this was the next image that came up. It may not mean anything, but it’s funny all the same.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Chicken Sh!t

I'd like to thank my first ever guest blogger, Mr. WWPVWD himself, DLee for this Gem (no, not the delicious fried chicken treat).  Needless to say, lunch today was interesting.  And for the record, none of those of us involved in the conversation intend to stop eating our share of the 24 chickens the average American eats each year, but it really makes you stop and think - where do they all come from??  Without further adieu:

So, I’m eating my very pretentious Chicken Cobb Salad from Panera (sound the beacon!) at lunch today, and I start to wonder, how many people are consuming that very same salad today, and how many chickens were needed to fulfill those orders. Now, take it one step further, how many chickens are consumed by Americans in general on a daily basis. Screw that, how many chickens are consumed yearly???? It was an answer I needed, pondered (more than Christian) and required. So I asked.

Interestingly enough, my co-workers had never wondered what the answer to this mind-blowing question would be. In fact, one could ask why the hell I care. Was it because “I was loaded!!! Ok?!?” No, it was because the chicken on some very subconscious level must fascinate me. Well, I needed answers… even though I probably, in my best Jack Nicholson impression “can’t handle the truth!!!” So, we went on a hunt for the answer and here’s what we found…

The average 8 fingered, 2 thumbed American (sorry Anub!) consumes 24 chickens each year. There are 307,000,000 U.S residents (and who knows how many illegal immigrants hiding under Kurt’s desk). That equates to 7.4 billion chickens consumed by Americans each year alone. 7.4 BILLION!!!!! Manage that!!!!!

What kind of land space must that occupy? If you lined up 7.4 billion chickens, could you get to the moon (please don’t drop your pants, I’m not talking about that moon). You bet your sweet ass you could. In fact, if you lined up all the eggs, from those very same chickens that are consumed by Americans, you could get to the moon and back 5 times! On a side note, don’t try that at home. I guarantee you won’t be struttin’ that ass if you try.

Anyway, I digress. Where is the anger from the chicken-loving community? Who will rise up to defend these birds from insane amounts of procreation, egg-laying, slaughtering, and ultimately roasting on a rotisserie? They need a voice (god I love the beefier Christina Aguilera on that show)! They need to be heard (if someone can get KReba to shut-up for 5 minutes)! They need a coalition (Max can you develop a logo?)! They need…

Ahh, screw it. It’s Thursday. It’s time for Crown Brewing, It’s time for a Special Forces IPA. And, I heard they have 50 cent wings. J

Peace out until my next guest appearance.


Again, a big thank you to DLee.  The gauntlet has been thrown down.  Who's next?  And for all of you Arrested Development fans out there - enjoy some chicken dancing. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

People like blood sausage too...

...People are morons.  So goes the saying in Groundhog Day (aside: I swear I like more TV shows and movies than just Seinfeld, Airplane and Groundhog Day - they just have so many quotable moments and for some reason I've been stuck on them lately, I'll evolve).  I typically don't like to cannibalize the attention on my own blog posts by posting twice in the same day, let alone 2 hours, but seeing as how I don't have a lot of readers to piss off, now is probably the time to make mistakes.

I couldn't help but notice when I went to Yahoo's home page (I know, I know, it's my own fault, and I need to break the habit of visiting Yahoo) that their top news, yet again, is that another moron has fallen victim to his own stupidity.  AKA - he racked up an $11,000 cell phone bill.  I didn't bother to read the rest of the article, because it doesn't deserve more attention than the time it took to read the headline and look at the picture, which really say it all (I'll refrain from including the fact that he's Canadian, since this has happened to many Americans).

You need only Google "really expensive cell phone bill" to come up with hundreds of similar stories.  Now, I don't have kids, so I only have my own cell phone usage to police, but it seems pretty common sense - if I am roaming, I probably should not start streaming videos or making ridiculously long phone calls or sending 5000 text messages a minute.

Typically I don't defend big businesses like the phone company and they should probably give these idiots a break, but just as with blood sausage, the problem will exist until the idiots are eliminated (read: never).  What bothers me even more about this is that there are probably even more people out there that have received cell phone bills like this one and don't report it because of the sheer embarassment.  What do you think - regulate the phone company or regulate the public?

To Spend or not to Spend

Some Betty White Super Bowl ad - I think it was
for The Voice - which I didn't watch Sunday. 
As a member of the marketing department at a company that is not the size of your standard advertisers on Super Bowl Sunday, I have a hard time understanding what it's like to be at a company which puts together an ad for the Super Bowl.  From a marketers standpoint, I have to imagine that the process is fun and it has to be exciting to see your hard work on television in a place where you know millions of people will be watching (and judging).  From a business standpoint, I find it hard to imagine that many companies can justify a $3.5 million investment for 30 seconds of air time.

As we debated this very idea at work yesterday (sorry Anub - I saved this one for places other than in the marketing department), the argument came up that it is a great conversation source for the water cooler on the Monday after the Super Bowl.  Okay, but where is the ROI?  For me, one of my favorite commercials was the Dorito's commercial where the dog buried the cat, then bribed his owner with Doritos.  Aside from that one, most of the ads either 1) annoyed me, 2) didn't appeal to me because I didn't need the product, 3) I don't remember 2 days later, or 4) all of the above.

So, let's talk about the one I did like from Doritos, seen here.  I liked the commercial, but that doesn't change the fact that Ruffles taste better than Doritos and my taste didn't magically change because I liked their ad.  But what about the social aspect, I mean, you are blogging about the Super Bowl ad, aren't you Nathan?  Why yes I am, and perhaps this added discussion will bring greater awareness to a product that otherwise might struggle.

My concern is that it seems like a Catch-22 for the usefulness of these ads.  The brands that can afford the high price tag (like Doritos, Coke, Honda, you name them) are probably large enough that the expenditure is fairly meaningless in the long run.  Maybe there is an immediate sales lift - and maybe for a company that large, the lift is even great enough to generate a large enough return that the spend is justified as Tim Arnold claims here.

The brands that I believe could benefit most from an ad on the Super Bowl - lesser known brands trying to grab our attention in a less commoditized industry - likely can't afford the massive investment. Avi Dan writes on Forbes about the many large organizations that chose not to advertise this year after airing an ad last year.

While I'd one day love to be part of the team that develops the ad that everybody loves during the Super Bowl, a part of me would have to question whether our money could be spent in a better way.  Maybe instead I'll be a part of the smaller company that puts all of its eggs in one basket, develops an ad so compelling that all of America just has to rush out and buy the product and becomes the next Apple.  In the meantime, I'll just continue to complain about the crappy Chevy commercials until someone is smart enough to do what has needed to be done for a long time and just fill all of the commercial breaks with the Bud Bowl (although I can't stand Bud beer either and won't be convinced to drink it no matter how good their ads are).

Monday, February 6, 2012

Animated Irony

For those of you that have yet to come across NMA.tv, I would guess you will see one of these videos at some point soon, so I thought I better jump aboard now.  I've watched 5 or 6 of them now and figured it was time to learn a little more about this whole phenomenon.  Unfortunately, the website doesn't provide a whole lot of information other than that the creators appear to be from Taiwan.  Beyond that, I'm really trying to figure out if they realize how ironic they are being or if they are simply taking every opportunity they can to make fun of Americans for the stupid shit we find entertaining.  I find it ironic that we are now being entertained by something that makes fun of many of the things that entertain us daily.  Speculation about the real intentions of these videos is encouraged in the comments.  In the meantime, enjoy the following video, which shows us what really happened yesterday.  And in case you were wondering, God clearly cares about football games that Tim Tebow has nothing to do with.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Super Bowl Fatigue?

Suffering from SBF (Super Bowl Fatigue) and they haven't even kicked off.

Saw this tweet today and started thinking about all of the Super Bowl hype.  I believe I have officially found a second benefit to cutting off cable - I can't say that I'm really feeling the fatigue and I'm more excited for Super Bowl Sunday than I've been in a long time, even though I don't care much about either team.  Now, that might have something to do with the Super Bowl being two hours away or with our brilliant idea to tag team (or would Royal Rumble be more appropriate) a live blog of the Super Bowl over on 3 Fingers and a Nub tomorrow or it could be that I just haven't really seen much Super Bowl coverage.  If you are bored or have a laptop in your lap at 3:00 or later tomorrow, stop by and see what the hype is about.  And if you don't have time tomorrow, check out his blog - as Anub says - "not for the weak, the weary, children or anyone easily offended."

Back to the Super Bowl -  Here are just a few of the ridiculous articles that I have spent time reading today, which would probably just annoy me if I were able to watch ESPN or there were anything on TV besides figure skating or Secondhand Lions.
  • An article about Wes Welker going to Tom Brady's house because he likes Brady's toilet.  
  • Or this quiz which wants you to identify Super Bowl players by only their eyes?
Not impressed yet?  Let's keep going
  • I'll give this one a cheer, and it makes me like the Giants a bit more 
  • Need to see a little more skin and a little less football?  How about the photo album from the Playboy Party at the Bud Light Hotel in downtown Indy.  
  • Think you know a lot about Eli Manning?  Well, did you know he "has a gift for karaoke"?
But wait, there's more!
  • This one is directly targeted at the host of our Super Bowl party.  I expect Guy Fieri-approved food tomorrow.  
  • And for those of you that could care less about the game and are disgusted by all the hype - here are 4 stupid ideas for how you can protest without getting in the way of the rest of us.  
I'm going to go back to browsing ridiculous Super Bowl news, watching terrible TV and getting more texts from my buddy who wasn't too lazy to drive to Indy today and is now sending me pictures like this one of AJ Green at the NFL Experience.  

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Groundhog Day Spoiler

After tolerating two episodes of Greek, stuffing myself with baked chicken strips and waffle fries - this following my meals from the last 3 days of:

  • Monday breakfast - Cheerios
  • Monday lunch - Wendy's Asiago chicken sandwich, junior cheeseburger and medium fries
  • Monday dinner - 2 frozen philly cheese steak sandwiches
  • Tuesday breakfast - Cheerios
  • Tuesday lunch - Portillo's breaded chicken sandwich and cheese fries
  • Tuesday dinner - Pizza Hut stuffed crust bacon and mushroom pizza with breadsticks
  • Wednesday breakfast - Cheerios
  • Wednesday lunch - Pizza Hut meat lovers P'Zone
I don't need you to point out that this is the longest cutscene since the last episode of Family Guy, that I should clearly know why my head is fat, that I am undoing all the work I did at the gym on Monday, or that I should no longer abide by the diet I had when I swam in high school.