Saturday, June 23, 2007

"Yes, Mom, It's An Ice Floe, But It's A Reliable, Old-Fashioned Ice Floe", Dept.

We as a people pay huge amounts of lip service to the notion that Old People Are Good. This will increasingly be the case as the Boomers slouch towards decrepitude chanting "70 is the new 50". Which, given how they once felt about anybody over 30 must be one rude fucking wake-up call. At any rate, between AARP and Centrum ads and all the meds advertised on national evening newsprograms whose audience must be comprised exclusively of octogenarian shut-ins, a visitor to our country might think we prize our seniors, their wealth of experience, an invaluable national resource, etc., etc.

Said visitor would be, of course, wholly wrong.

Two advertisements I found recently tell me pretty much how the mercantile class of America feels about the cane-waving, kids-off-lawn-chasing, Matlock-watching geezer demographic.

The first was in the catalog for The Vermont Country Store® which, if you're not on their mailing list, caters to ancient white people who remember When Things Were Better. If you have fond memories of wearing Evening in Paris or Arpège or of eating Walnettos and Nigger Babies "Liquorice Babies" or of owning chiffon scarves or if you enjoy reading ad copy that uses phrases like "relive memories" a LOT, then this company is for you, my friend.

As I was leafing through their latest offering, I stopped at an ad for a manual typewriter that bore this heading:

Manual Olivetti Typewriter Types at a Pace You Can Think

and continues with the following text:
"We don't anticipate selling many of these typewriters to the young word-processing crowd. But all thinking persons past the age of discretion should consider this reliable, old-fashioned machine. This manual Olivetti moves at a pace that allows ample time to compose your thoughts, and will never crash and lose your words of wisdom."


How artful is that? To combine a hint of ageist elitism with uncut condescension for the doddering old fools who'd buy such a sales pitch.

I mean, let's break this puppy down:
-the heading introduces the notion that machines somehow have a life and volition of their own by implying that, in contrast to some other consarned contraptions, a manual typewriter will type just as slowly as you think, Gramps.
-the first sentence looks down its nose at whippersnappers in its reference to that "young word-processing crowd" and allusion to their new-fangled notions of "electrical brains" that do "computing".
-the second sentence flatters the reader as a "thinking person past the age of discretion" and waves under the reader's nose the sweet, homey scent in which words like "reliable" and "old-fashioned" are steeped.
-the third sentence seals the deal by again invoking the terrible notion of autonomous machines driving poor, arthritic fingers and poor, befuddled minds faster than they can operate, bless them, by contrasting those computerized tyrants with this ol' typewriter that allows one "ample time to compose (one's) thoughts"--in contrast, say, to Microsoft Word which opens a window every five minutes to call you a worthless cunt if you haven't written anything--and--watch for it, Culture of Fear fans!--"will never crash and lose your"--Flattery Alert!--"words of wisdom". Damn these slave-driver machines and their instability! And just when I was getting to that part about me meeting Patton too!

I repeat, Wow.

I don't know if they sell many of these pups but I hope the writer gets a follow-on gig questioning prisoners at Gitmo. 'Cause he or she has exhibited a calloused, careless mastery of the lubed mindfuck.

If you're interested in the Vermont Country Store (and, jeepers, could any e-retailer have a homier name?), you can visit their site here. Personally, I'm not sure how the elderly are going to manage to do this, using a manual typewriter for a browser and all, but, hey, they're the Greatest Generation, they'll figure it out.

The second advertisement was on the back of last week's Sunday NYT Book Review section. An ad for a product called "jitterbug™" from FirstStreet® "for Boomers and Beyond™", "beyond" apparently referring to the afterlife.
(Just a little sidebar about FirstStreet. They're a division of TechnoBrands, Inc. which was the object of a little unwanted FTC attention a few years back when charged with "misleading ads and deceptive upselling". Y'all may have encountered the hydra-headed TBI doing business as "The Lifestyle Resource", "TechnoScout", "Ennovations", or the "International Collectors' Society" as it attempted to sell you that most valuable of commodities, peace of mind. Like the "Hollywood 48-Hour Miracle Diet". Or the "BMI Magnetic Kit" for pain relief. Or the "Nisim New Hair Biofactors System" for follicle growth stimulation. Among many other doubtlessly-fine products. So, you know their shit is f'real, right?)
The jitterbug™ is a cell phone, you see. But WHAT a cell phone. To quote from the full-page ad's headline:

It doesn't play games, take pictures, or give you the weather.

and to cite from the first paragraph of the ad's text:
For people like me, who want a phone that's easy to see, easy to hear and easy use. Over the years, cell phones have become smaller and smaller with so many complicated features. They are harder to program and harder to use. But the Jitterbug Cell Phone has simplified everything, so it's not only easy to use, it's easy to try. no crowded malls, no waiting in line, no confusing sales people, or complicated plans.

I won't delve into the guts of the offer itself, although $15.00/month for 30 minutes could hardly be considered a steal, particularly when, in print too fine for any elderly eyes to see, it notes that this rate excludes "government taxes, investment surcharges, and activation fee". So, hold onto your hats when the real bottom line kicks in, oldsters. Instead, let's focus on the tone of the text.

In case the nuanced copy did not make this clear, the emphasis is on EASY, okay? Because old people are OLD. Math is HARD. EVERYTHING'S hard. And SCARY. Don't forget SCARY. 'Cause SCARY is how one makes people buy substandard shit. That's why the ad touts such astonishing features as "FREE 911 access" and "Operator assistance 24/7". (Unlike my cell plan which only has operators standing by on national holidays and doubles my monthly bill should I attempt to call for emergency services.) Things are too CONFUSING and COMPLICATED and CROWDED. Everything's SMALLER and SMALLER. And the Grim Reaper's parking his car in the lot outside. Wait! Listen! Here he comes! Hurry! Buy this phone! Because you're OLD. And STUPID.

The above is not to say that products should not be introduced that take the specific needs and wants of senior citizens into account. Quite the contrary. I just don't think that fear-mongering, condescension, and disempowerment are appropriate ways to advertise products to the elderly. I don't think stoking their own sense of self-doubt regarding their place in, and adaptability to, 21st-century society by immuring them in misplaced nostalgia for an imaginary America is a particulary good or kind idea, particularly when this exploitative impulse is motivated solely and exclusively by a desire to part them from their Social Security or pension check. I don't think that selling the shortcomings of a product as desirable features is particularly honest ("Buy our product! It doesn't do any of these things!") And, generally speaking, the American populace is stupid enough at every level that advertisements which encourage and validate ignorance and helplessness are more than a little counterproductive.

Things may improve as the media-savvier Boomers encounter senescence.
If not "improve", at least "play on their egotism and vanity".
Which'll be a change, at least.
I Like My Men Like I Like My Ice Cream: Cold And Hard, Dept.

So, by now, I've seen these TV commercials about a dozen times.
Breyers Ice Cream.
One features a pair of women sunbathing in their swimsuits by a sizable backyard pool. The brunette asks the redhead who's eating ice cream, "Don't you feel guilty?". Cut to a gigantic tub of Breyers with human legs cleaning her pool. Cut back to the MILFy redhead. "Nope", she answers as she smiles and flicks her tongue at the spoon in her hand.
In the other commercial, we see a schmendrick husband coming home from a business trip or maybe work. He opens the bedroom door. We see a look of shock and alarm on his face. Cut to his POV. His wife under the sheets eating a bowl of Breyers. Pan left, we see a gigantic bucket of Breyers with human legs by the dresser.

The obvious, superficial reference is to the guilt women feel when they eat ice cream. A sense of profound shame comparable only to that which they feel when confronted by the monthly incontinence of their menstrual flow and its ineluctable connection to the primal castratory wound. Or so I've been told by Freudians as they decorated portraits of their mothers with wax bananas. Anyhoo, yeah, got it: women feel bad about pleasuring themselves with full-fat goodness. Not unlike the crushing guilt they feel when they use their veiled organs for wanton, pointless pleasure, instead of, as dictated by the Judaeo-Christo-Muslim Trifecta of Fun, procreation.

So, Breyers--clever dicks!--thought to wed these two varieties of discomfiture into one TV ad campaign that explicitly links the pleasure (and guilt) of sex to the pleasure (and guilt) of eating, then zhuzhes it up with a li'l Karl-Marx-meets-Desperate Housewives-at-Lina-Wertmüller's house bourgeois-woman-fucks-the-studly-prole class-whorefare, and, finally, squirts atop this sundae the gooey cream of cuckold short-form porn usually titled something like "Her Hung Lover Makes Me Watch".

Brilliant, I call it.

It simultaneously flogs the benefits of Breyers low-fat ice cream, acknowledges the guilt American women feel regarding pleasure, and offers them winking permission to substitute an acceptable infidelity (to their diets) for an unacceptable infidelity (to their husbands). 'Cause Breyers low-fat ice cream is so good, it's like fucking the pool boy! Which may have been an early contender for this campaign's tagline.

Hopefully, Breyers will next tackle the gnawing sense of wrongness that men feel when they want to bang tween girls.
Oh, wait, someone's done it for them.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A Contest With No Winners, Dept. - Our Campaign Song

Okay. If the acronym "OMFG" was created by the Maker of Us All for use when confronted by news that requires one to blow the metaphorical doors off one's mind from sheer excitement, then OMFG!!!!1111oneoneone.

Because Hillary Clinton--let me catch my breath a sec--has chosen her campaign song!!! Or, rather, the Murkin peepul have spoken and uttered unto the Hillster, "Behold, we bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people: your campaign song shall be...'You and I' by French-Canadian wood thrush, Celine Dion."

Oh yes.
Oh yes.

Just in case y'all are among those lucky ducks unfamiliar with this li'l ditty, let me offer you the lyrics for your dining and dancing pleasure,

High above the mountains, far across the sea
I can hear your voice calling out to me
Brighter than the sun and darker than the night
I can see your love shining like a light
And on and on this earth spins like a carousel
If I could travel across the world
The secrets I would tell

You and I
Were meant to fly
Higher than the clouds
We'll sail across the sky
So come with me
And you will feel
That we're soaring
That we're floating up so high
Cause you and I were meant to fly

Sailing like a bird high on the wings of love
Take me higher than all the stars above
I'm burning, yearning
Gently turning round and round
I'm always rising up I never
Want to come back down

God, that's shit.
And, yes, it sounds exactly like you might imagine it would.
It's a Celine Dion song.
All "inspirational" and "soaring" and "anthemic".
The kind of thing they would've played at the 1936 Olympics if Germany had been run not by Nazis but by painfully-earnest teenage girl poets who'd just discovered their clits.

Joining the ranks of FDR's "Happy Days Are Here Again" and JFK's "High Hopes"--both of which were, admittedly, severely flawed by dint of their not having been chosen by the Murkin peepul--this song will rally supporters to the HRC camp by informing them that Hillary "can see (their) love shining like a light" and by noting that if Hillary could travel across the world, say, as President of the United States of America, oh, "the secrets (she) could tell".

Gratified as I am that the Hillster's compound eyes are sensitive enough to detect my own luv-light beaming from way across town, and curious as I am to hear how big a dildo Bill had to agree to take im tuchus to atone for his diddlin'n'fiddlin', I am compelled by my own ethical imperatives to ask: Are these good things?
I'm going to say these are not good things.
Similarly, I'm going to note here that I didn't need to know that Hillary was "burning, yearning, gently turning". There are medicated creams expressly formulated to treat such conditions and the Senator would be well advised to purchase and use them as directed.

Ha ha!
But seriously, folks.
The Campaign Song Contest.
If there was a reason to stage this reach-around other than to allow Hillary the luxury of not having to be scrutinized and criticized for her choice of a campaign song, I'd like to hear it.
And if there's an agenda to this reach-around other than to give voters the illusion that their views, concerns, and criticisms are anything but gnats' farts to the Big cHill, I'd love to hear it.
Because this whole project wears about it the stink of cynicism, calculation, and condescension.
Hey, there's a slogan for Hillary '08!: "3C's for HRC!"
Maybe she could hold a contest on her site to allow visitors to choose what each of the three C's represents.

I have a strong hunch as to what one of the early leaders in the voting would be.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Two Notes, One Having Nothing To Do With Sandwiches, One Having Everything To Do With Hams, Dept.

a) on Friday night's episode of Jeopardy!, the returning champion, a fellow named Jared Cohen, was left with only a dollar to wager by the time "Final Jeopardy" rolled around. Not knowing the correct answer to the question, "The original one of these on Mass.'s Little Brewster Island was built in 1716; automation ddn't come until 1998.", he answered "What is Kebert Xela?" which host Alex Trebek proceeded to read out loud. Now, usually "funny" answers unrelated to the question tend to run along the lines of "What is...Hi Mom and Dad!". Trebek, seemingly confused, asked what it meant. Jared (not apparently related to the "Subway sandwich" guy who, I don't care how much weight he lost, must've had to have cauterized his taste buds with a white-hot poker to tolerate eating nothing but Subway fucking subs for months) explained that he'd heard that if Trebek read his own name backwards, he'd be sent back to his own dimension.

Bingo!, a sly Superman allusion (the Man of Steel's impish nemesis, Mr. Mxyzptlk, from the Fifth Dimension, could only be sent home by somehow being tricked into reading his own name aloud and backwards). And a creamy layer of ganache atop the initial allusion in the form of a reference to a Family Guy episode wherein Adam West tricks Alex Trebek into saying his own name backwards, thereby sending him back to the Fifth Dimension.

Needless to say, "Jared" scored mega-super-triple fanboy points with that performance.

b) while at Ikea (where, disappointingly, statuesque Swedish hostesses in starched-but-inappropriately-revealing uniforms are not deployed to assist with one's selection of PRC-made furnishings and utensils, very few of which are in any way tainted by the mischievous Chinese propensity to cut corners and boost profits by introducing toxic and/or lethal adulterations into the manufacturing process), we had the opportunity to use one of the Self Check-out stations. This is always fun since I have few opportunities to scan the contents of my basket at home. As appears to be de rigeur in this situation, the Check-Out station is equipped with a screen which features a computer-animated tutorial/prompt in case the shopper has not been in a supermarket/chain-megastore since the first Gulf War or is, in fact, a member of America's despised-yet-envied monied class. Like other examples of this sort of animated prompt, Ikea's depicts a woman scanning her items, bagging them, swiping her credit card. Unlike others your sobsister has seen, Ikea's includes two noteworthy features. First, the on-screen consumerette, thanks to the marvels of CGI and 3-D modelling, has been given a big ol' ba-donka-donk (which, coincidentally, is also the name of a line of inexpensive wine glasses available for purchase at Ikea). Second, the animation boffins who contracted to develop this video were detail-oriented enough to give the 3-D shopperette a serious case of VPL. Right there, onscreen, the telltale sign of too much ass pressing against too thin fabric.

I was impressed. And remain so. That men should harness the atom and the electron and the mouse to render their own panty-outline fetish and sell it to a major multinational is little short of awe-inspiring. Possible refinements: animated woman with meticulously-rendered cameltoe shopping at Ikea, CGI woman with ragdoll-physics-modelled eraser-tip nipples under sheer blouse shopping at Ikea, 3-D woman with texture-mapped cellulite shopping at Ikea.

Science am grand. And getting grander.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Rule Of Law Is For Pussies, Dept.

Marion Barry Acquitted of Drunk Driving

Yeah, so here's a blinding fucking shocker: Marion "If he's smoked the shit, you must acquit" Barry was found innocent of operating a vehicle while impaired, driving under the influence, and driving an unregistered vehicle.

Apparently the Secret Service had stopped the former D.C. Mayor-cum-scumbag after he'd done 27 consecutive figure-eights, fishhooks, and doughnuts in his car, finishing with a stunning triple Salchow just near the White House. The agents testified that he stank of booze, was stumbling, had red eyes and slurred speech.

But thank Jeebus for "reasonable doubt". Marion "It goes up my nose, mine and that of my ho's" Barry provisionally passed a breath test later that evening and then "refused a urine test".

I want to run for public office.
Not out of any sense of duty or mission or calling or public service.
Just so I can refuse urine tests and the like.
Run over puppies, take drugs on camera, fuck prostitutes in jail, whaddya gonna do?!
I'm Marion Barry, BITCH!

Thank you, voters of Chocolate City. Without you, our municipal politics might actually cease being a punchline.
And thank you, Mister Former Mayor. For teaching us that after centuries of slavery, abuse, disenfranchisement, and prejudice, a Black man can still rise above his race's tragic past and act like a total fucking ass.

No offense to asses.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Dribs and Drabs, Mostly Dribs, Dept.

Here are a few short notes with which you, Gentle Reader, may begin this week:

1) you would not believe how many people land on this page after searching for some variant on "Giada De Laurentiis cleavage".
And, by writing that phrase, I have, of course, just ensured myself another fresh boatload.
That said, unless no-one's getting Basic Cable out there, it really isn't that rara an avis, is it? Every episode, guys. Every fucking episode. I mean, I could understand someone Googling something a bit more recherché. Like "Mary Todd Lincoln cleavage". Or "Queen Victoria split beaver". But Giada's firm li'l tit-tays? You have to go out of your way not to see them.

2) your sobsister listened to Side 1 of Joe Jackson's 3-sided Big World album last night. I should say, his "shamefully-overlooked Big World album". Recorded live with no sweetening or crowd noise, the performances and songs are among Jackson's best. Which is recommendation enough, I should think. Despite being saddled with the "New Wave spiv" image and despite being pigeonholed as a two-song wonder ("Is She Really Going Out With Him?", "Steppin' Out"), Jackson has led a productive career en route to compiling a very diverse songbook underpinned by the creative tension between his formal, classical music training and his appetite for eclecticism. Big World is my favorite of his albums. The band turns on a dime or even, possibly, a shilling in Old Money. The album is thematically cohesive, as Jackson treats travel, Reagan/Thatcher-era foreign affairs, homesickness, manifest destiny, and a lot of other topics that wouldn't seem like great song topics but are. There wasn't room for two word-besotted "Angry Young Men" (as the reductionist media would have it) in pop, so Elvis C. snagged the ring. But Joe Jackson's catalog is as good as any.

3) watched half of an episode of America's Got Talent, NBC's contribution to the stultification of the warm-weather tube-sucking audience. Everything old being new again, it's the Ted Mack Amateur Hour meets the Gong Show yanked through the mangle of American Idol right down to the snippy Brit, the mothery woman, and the doofus. The latter role occupied by the man known to his fans and detractors alike as The Hoff. After hearing about David Hasselhoff's self-made drunk-ass video, I couldn't help but see the man tonight as being halfway in the bag. Then again, I don't have much experience with his oeuvre, so maybe he always looks halfway in the bag. All that said, based on the program I watched tonight, I can confidently assert that America does not, in fact, Have Talent. Unless one defines "talent" as the ability to impress a gormless, obese, and slackjawed audience that would seem déclassé in Branson, Missouri. Oh, and Sharon Osbourne's otherwise-handsome face could've been stretched tighter but then her every breath would force her cheeks to produce a perfect "A" at 440 cycles per second. Like a tuning fork.

4) Li'l Albertito Gonzales the Naughtiest AG What Ever Was ducked a no-confidence today after the whited sepulchers who do business as Senate Republicans voted to prevent the motion from being debated. Li'l Albertito's boss, who does business as the Very Picture Of Venality, put it thusly:
"They can have their votes of no confidence, but it's not going to make the determination about who serves in my government. This process has been drug out a long time. It's political."
Oh, but it does my heart good to hear this shit-heel speak.
It proves to me the existence of God.
A God with a fucked-up sense of humor like you read about.

5) your sobsister was in a mall recently and, yeah, I know I was asking for it just being in any of the great swirling toilets of patriotic consumerism, but I actually heard some wretched girl with crap hair and a muffintop, jabberjawing on the phone, say, "OMG!". Literally. The three letters. "O". "M". "G".
If someone acts that retarded in public, shouldn't they forfeit their citizenship or be elected Senior Senator from Alaska or something?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Suicide Bombing, Nothing! Will You LOOK At The Package On That Infidel?!, Dept. - Pentagon Confirms It Sought To Build A 'Gay Bomb'


So, it seems that our Pentagon, the world's largest collection of guys who want nothing to do with other guys besides killing them, considered at length a proposal for an aphrodisiac bomb that would "cause enemy soldiers to become gay, and to have their units break down because all their soldiers became irresistibly attractive to one another".


"DEATH to you, Great Satan, I sacrifice my body for the glory of...
...OHmyGOD, Mary, will you LOOK at what Miss Thing is wearing?! I'm sorry, did I fall asleep and wake up in 2007 B.C.? 'Cause those croptops are Ancient History, girlfriend!"

I am berry berry glad to live in America where mens they do not fock the other mens except when many many million tax pesos spend to make the bomb to make the mens fock the other mens.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Bitch Set Me Up!...with Microsoft Office and an improved filing system..., Dept.

Driver Denied Bond in Festival Crash

Trust your sobsister when I say that this story is like the very nectar of life in Choc City distilled down to a few intense droplets of anti-pleasure.

A crackhead goes to work as a temp for former mayor, current Councilman, forever substance-abuser Marion Barry. Which is a bit like John Wayne Gacy scoring a gig as a Scoutmaster. After a hard day at the pipe, she takes her car for a little twirly-whirl which sees her, first, hit an unmarked cop car
(amazingly--or not--the cops don't follow her because "the traffic violation did not pose a threat to officers".
wait, I still don't get it.),
then, twenty minutes later, plow through police barricades into a church-sponsored street festival where she sends pedestrians and strollers flying and, in the process, injures 40 people including her 4-year-old son who is thrown out of the vehicle's path by his father who is himself hit by the car.

But none of this, classically Choc City-ish as it is, is my favorite bit. My favorite bit is the letter written by Marion "the Hoovernator" Barry's chief of staff to the temp agency. He writes, "The behavior of your employee, although outside of work, indicates that you may not have properly investigated her background prior to placing her in our office." Ummm...yeah. I'd say. A little. But I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that the temp agency keeps its contract with the city anyway. 'Cause that's how we roll here in Choc City.

I was going to close this with some snark about how Marion "the Pipe-cleaner" Barry--despite a 1990 crack cocaine conviction and despite being stopped almost monthly for exhibiting dubious driving skills while maybe possibly under the influence of some intoxicant or another--can still hold office in Choc City and how, in electing this fucked-up, pie-eyed douchebag, African-Americans here have exhibited the clearheadedness of learning-disabled children after a bucket of sugar down the gullet. But then I remember that European-Americans elected George W. Bush to the highest position in our nation not once but twice. And then I figure Blacks could elect a serial child molester tax evader puppy kicker with heroin needles hanging out of his arms and a meth lab in his baby daughter's nursery and still be cut plenty o' slack.

In closing, let me quote from the second stanza of the Chocolate City colonial anthem:

O, Choc-Town, long may you stand
as the proverbial city on a hill
of shit.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Oh, Boo fucking Hoo!, Dept.

TB patient: 'I hope they forgive me' - Yahoo! News

"TB patient: 'I hope they forgive me'

An Atlanta attorney quarantined with a dangerous strain of tuberculosis apologized to his fellow plane passengers in an interview aired Friday, and insisted he was told he wasn't contagious or a threat to anyone.

'I've lived in this state of constant fear and anxiety and exhaustion for a week now, and to think that someone else is now feeling that, I wouldn't want anyone to feel that way. It's awful,' Andrew Speaker told ABC's 'Good Morning America' from his hospital room in Denver."

Let's see...this cocksucker is a personal injury attorney and he's blubbering on Diane Sawyer's MILFy shoulder that he hopes the people whose lives he may have imperiled through exposure to a vicious, antibiotic-resistant strain of TB because he couldn't be arsed to postpone his fucking wedding will forgive him?!

Yeah, this is more along the lines of what your sobsister is hoping:
that every single person on every single one of the flights he boarded, every single person in attendance at his wedding and honeymoon in Greece, every single person in Canada, basically, every single person in each of the signatory nations to the NATO pact, shows the same forbearance regarding litigation that this ambulance-chasing douchebag has doubtless shown when advising his own clients, and sues him down to the individual hairs on his ass.

It's a big wish but if we all wish it, it just might come true.