Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Or, perhaps I will receive the deciding vote in the other direction – the opinion that confirms my doubts and serves to set me free from the loyal fandom that has begun paying diminishing returns in too many ways for me to ignore any longer.
Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment.
I am in need of some perspective. I find myself having a hard time maintaining even a neutral opinion about the Red Sox – and I fear I am veering dangerously close to officially disliking them. It’s one of those dread feelings, an intuitive response that’s been lurking in the back of my mind ever since I saw a sea of pink hats cheering on a champagne-drenched Jonathan Papelbon jigging his way around the Fenway infield in celebration of the team’s 2008 Wild Card birth. In trying to diagnose the cause of this mystery cynicism, I’ve been forced to examine my relationship with the team over the last several years. The retrospective imagery that comes to mind is highly troubling, and just compounding the problem by laying down concrete indicators for the symptoms I’m experiencing. Let’s take a walk down memory lane together, in the hopes that this crisis of faith can be resolved once and for all…
I’ll go back to the summer of 2003, when the level of Sox-mania in this town hit its ‘fever pitch’ (ahh, “Fever Pitch”, I hadn’t even considered that shot across the bow of Red Sox nation). In retrospect, what great times they were: The era of ‘cowboy up’, of Big Papi’s emergence, when Pedro was Pedro, and Manny, well…This euphoria lasted all the way into October. October 16th, to be exact – and in the interest of low blood pressure, I will simply MENTION AARON BLEEPING BOONE.
Fast forward through a 2004 seemingly too good to be true: The July 24th comeback game, featuring the A-Rod – Varitek brawl. The comeback, the sweep. Indeed, too good to be true…and this, I think, is where it all began…
When the Sox won in 2004, it did a couple of things. First, it immediately removed the 'lovable loser' label that they had been wearing for 86 years (or at least a good portion of that title-drought). What this did was create a sort of 'rooting hangover' for a lot of fans, myself included, who found it harder than normal to really pull for a team who's identity had been so altered. When they won again in 2007, the national calls about 'buying championships' began to spring up, but most Sox fans were able to ignore them because, after all, this is the Red Sox. After all, a Boston franchise needs to be able to count on a good deal of the “Yeah? You’re from where? Yeah. SHUT UP!” factor from the core of its fan base, and Sox fans are the standard bearers of this phenomenon. So we gave it the old “yeah, those Angels fans are just jealous” or the trusty “Screw the Padres, buddy”, and went on our merry, oblivious ways.
The second thing the 2004 championship did was to open the door for a total make over of the entire Red Sox experience. The field has changed: what was once a throwback to a day gone by is now a glowing, neon advertising kiosk with a baseball field somehow jammed into the mix. There are enormous ads everywhere. There are seats on the Monster (which, I know, were there before 2004 – but are a perfect synopsis of ‘the old’ vs. ‘the new’), seats on the field, there are the milk bottles, the Coke bottles, etc. etc. (I often feel that the first team to have their infield or bases - or even the playing surface - i.e. "Dunkin Donuts field at Fenway Park - sponsored would be the Red Sox). These circumstances do not necessarily stand out in the fan friendly carnival that MLB has become, but didn’t we used to hang our hats on that? Wasn’t that one of the pillars we would point to when we referred to ourselves as “the most educated fan base in sports”? It’s like one of those odd dreams that you have, where you end up explaining to friends: “It was so realistic. We were all there. Well, Sean, you were Cousin Larry from Perfect Strangers, but it was totally real. We were back in school, then we went to Fenway Park, but it was also kind of the mall…”
And yet, I feel I could stomach all of this if it weren’t for the recent suspension of Manny Ramirez. Now, no self respecting Sox fan can seriously claim to have thought that the entire Sox roster from 2001-2007 was clean – but to be presented with hard evidence to the contrary makes trying to maintain your loyalty to the Sox feel like quitting your job to take over for the imprisoned O.J. Simpson in his search for ‘the real killer.’ You can’t get around it: we’re faced with the impossible-to-reasonably-deny fact that there were steroid users on the championship teams, probably more than most people would care to acknowledge. We all have our suspicions about Big Papi. What about the 'not so obvious' ones, though? Let's look at the criteria for being placed 'under suspicion': A spike in production, weight gain, and a precipitous drop in production in the 'testing era.' Here are some names I'd like you to consider: Mark Bellhorn, Bill Mueller, Kevin Millar, Trot Nixon, Johnny Damon (who practically grew horns here), heck, even Pedro has disappeared. I'm not saying that there is hard proof, but as we've learned from our trusty, amazing reliable source Jose Canseco: where there is smoke, there is usually fire.
In all of this reflection, I've been faced with the fact that there is not a lot about this team to root for. So many of the fall-backs are gone - the losing, the old time feel, the 'us against them' with the Yankees, the 'at least they're clean...' - all can be countered with points stated earlier. Based on all of this, it would take a die hard fan to ignore all of these factors - because it's true that the championships were bought, it's true that there is a high level of suspicion now surrounding these past teams, and it's true that these are not your father's Red Sox. When I try to cultivate some sort of bond with the current roster, I get stuck thinking about what a jerk Josh Beckett seems like, or I wonder “where will Dustin Pedroia play when we’re comparing him to Wade Boggs?” or “Is Jason Bay French Canadian? Have I heard him speak?”
I've always said that a true fan sticks with a team through thick and thin - and I remember listening to Pats games on the radio during TV blackouts when the team couldn't sell out old Sullivan Stadium - but this last decade of Red Sox "success" has truly pushed me to the edge. This brings me to my conundrum: Am I rooting for a team (the uniform), or it's players? If I'm rooting for the team, what do the Red Sox represent now? And if it's the players, do I ignore the personality deficits and just root for their performance - and if so, where's the fun in that?
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
I was listening to "Buffalo Stance" by Neneh Cherry today, and I had to remind myself that she was British due to the fact that her accent was indiscernible. Thing is, I had thing thought while listening to the spoken word intro. So, it would seem, British singers drop their "accent" (or adopt ours) the second a vocal mic is in their face. If Buffalo Stance doesn't do it for you, there's "Every Breath You Take" by The Police, "Your Love" by The Outfield, "Tears in Heaven" by Eric Clapton...I don't know where I'm getting these but they all prove the point - the accent disappears. Even Space Oddity by Bowie is only mildly British, and again, this is when he's speaking (the whole Grouwund Cuhntrol to Mayuhjuh Tum)...but once he starts singing, he could be from Nebraska.
Smack: How about the Beatles? Reminds me of my favorite Celebrity Jeopardy quote: "Are you English or retarded?"
WR: Can't remember that quote. About the Beatles: I think their accents are more detectable than most British singer's, but on the whole, it's a wash. For instance, if you were not familiar with the artist beyond his music, and I told you Neil Young was British, would you say "wow, you can't tell!"? Probably not. Though, this also raises the point that Canadian accents also fall by the wayside.
S: What aboot Oasis? Then there are bands like The Ramones or Green Day: American bands that try to sound British.
WR: Exactly, they try. Is it the case, then, that British singers (for the most part) try to sound American (or Canadian)?
S: Well, I didn’t think it was about trying… And it looks like I’m right. Of course, this takes all the fun away from the discussion…From the National Center for Voice and Speech website:
Q: How come when people with a strong regional accent (i.e., Southern) or stuttering problem don't manifest it when they sing?
A: When people speak with an accent, they produce the vowel sounds differently than the person identifying them as having an accent. When singing, the vowels are prolonged and those differences are minimized.
People who stutter may have an easier time singing because of several possible reasons:
- The support required in singing keeps the continuous voicing and airflow components moving easily.
- Words are provided in singing, so the challenge of deciding what words to say isn't present.
- Some feel that stuttering is a neurological disorder; the neural pathways involved in speech are disrupted somehow. Singing involves more right-hemisphere brain functions as compared to speaking, which is left-hemisphere dominated. Thus, singing may be easier to initiate and sustain than speech.
WR: Yeah, way to ruin this conversation. Since when have cold hard facts been interesting (sorry ESPN)? The answer still doesn't really get to the point, though, and for reasons you've already brought up. When you listen to Oasis, their vowels pronunciations are drawn out longer than that of, say, David Gilmour or Sting, yet the more compact vowels hide the accent - in these cases - better than the prolonged ones. Case in point: Oasis "Wonderwall": "I said maybaaaay, yur gonna be the one that sayaaves maaaay...." Pink Floyd: "On the Turning Away": "On the turning away."
I strike down the theory of the National Center for Voice and Speech!
S: I would argue that Oasis is a minority and Noel Gallagher consciously forces his accent. Can you think of any instances where someone sings with a Boston accent?
WR: Your first point is my point. Oasis is the minority - I want to know why. As far as a Boston accent - I'd say that's a bit trickier, because of the simple fact that a lot of singers, regardless of nationality (taken for granted we're talking about people singing in English), drop their 'r's. If you need a point of reference, think about "Round Here" by The Counting Crows." You notice the r in 'round herrrrre." Normally, 'r's kind of just fade off into nowhere, much like in the bleachers at a Red Sox game. Even Nelly tried to dig out a niche in the hip hop world by pronouncing his 'r's. You could argue that's a little different, and it is, but I think there's weight to the fact that he chose 'r' as opposed to 'g' or 's'...
S: I already told you why. Some Brit sings a song and his accent drops because singing and talking are physiologically different. Singing makes you sound "regionally neutral" for the most part. Unless of course you consciously force the accent. Like Oasis.
I said they're an exception because you were trying to use them as an example.
WR: Do you think Joe Strummer was forcing his accent? I don't. I also don't think that the parallels are there between why people drop a stutter and why people drop the accent. The point I brought up, about the elongated vowels of Oasis, works directly in contrast to the theory put forth by the NCVS.
Let's get away from Oasis and look at it this way - is the singing voice the true pronunciation of the English language? It sounds like the NCVS might think so, if they are putting forth that regional differences in pronunciation disappear when some one sings...and in that case, wouldn't it mean that, by default, Americans have a better pronunciation of the language?
S: Joe Strummer was a punk singer. Much more casual singing than "On the Turning Away," to use your own example. I think that makes it easier to retain the accent.
I would say that formal singing tends toward the natural pronunciation of the English language. I don't know if that means Americans have a better pronunciation of the language, though. Don't forget, we have Southern, Boston, New York, even Rhode Island accents over here. I think they all can disappear in music.
How about country music? Generally retains the drawl. Ryan Adams doesn't speak with an accent, but he sure puts it on sometimes. There are definitely differences among the genres.
WR: Well, I'm going to disagree about the vocal stylings of Joe Strummer and David Gilmour. Once you've heard Gilmour speak, you can tell that he actually has a very easy vocal style, in terms of it's similarity to his speaking voice - much like Nat King Cole.
Another angle is this - if we're going to agree that the natural singing voice - unless modified with intentional accents - is a more phonetically correct pronunciation of the language, do American national nightly news broadcasters have neutral accents? And if that's the case, does it sound like Brian Williams is singing the news in Britain? I don't think we'll settle this without bringing in an Englishman.
I'll tell you what will settle the whole "accents in music" thing really quickly, though: the vocoder. The vocoder must be stopped. Ring-tone music must be stopped. Music is devolving so rapidly, that by the sheer volume of horrible music out there, in 10 years NO ONE will be able to make halfway decent music anymore, even people who seek out the music that falls outside the mainstream to serve as their influence. Here's an example:
Here are the artists with the Top 10 Records this week, in order: Bob Dylan, Hannah Montana, Rascal Flatts, Rick Ross, Lady Gaga, Twilight (soundtrack), NOW 30 (various), Heavan and Hell (the re-formed, Dio-led Sabbath), and Tayolr Swift.
25 years ago, this week in 1984, here was the Top 10: Footloose (soundtrack), Lionel Richie "Can't Slow Down", Michael Jackson "Thriller", Huey Lewis and the News "Sports", Van Halen "1984", Culture Club Colour by Numbers", Cyndi Lauper "She's So Unusual, Scorpions "Love at First Sting", The Cars "Heartbeat City", Rush "Grace Under Pressure."
Now, I'm not going to sit here and say that downloading isn't a big problem, but if the music industry wants to know what the problem is, I'll give them a hint: the product that you are selling stinks. I'm not saying Dylan stinks, but Dylan is old. You don't see Frank Sinatra on the 1984 chart. People don't buy records en masse anymore, because it is a very small percentage of the population that can sit through a Lady Gaga record without harming themselves, or others.
S: I don't think it sounds like Americans are singing any more than it sounds like Joe Strummer is speaking during "Rock the Casbah."
WR: Must I point out that "Snap Yo Fingaz" was, and still is, considered to be a novelty hit?
I think the real problem is, is that somewhere in the late 1980s, synthesized music took over almost exclusive control of the pop charts. Now, I enjoy a pop hit at least as mush as the next guy, but it is sad to think that the days of a Huey Lewis and the News - essentially a bar band cutting records that made it big - or even a Genesis - a former prog act that said to themselves (after the departure of Peter Gabriel) "Uuhh, why can't we write pop hits?" Cue Phil Collins saying, "Can sing on this one? Ahem, 'Just as I thought it was going all right..." and voila: Pop hit "That's All." This lasted into the late eighties, with "rock" bands like Poison, ROCK bands like Guns ' n Roses, and just regular old "pop" bands like Roxette (Listen to Your Heart, The Look, It Must Have Been Love). Nowadays, a "band" is four or five dudes or cute girls dancing around and lip synching to music made predominantly by machines. I think...wait...it's Milli Vanilli's fault...
Milli Vanilli showed up for an audition and said "I'm Rob" "and I'm Fab..1,2,3,4 Girl you know..." and the producer just gave the thumbs up, pretended the tape was rolling, and said, "You've got the job!" "Should we bring our guitars next time?," they might have asked, and the producer says "Uhh, no, well, sure, whatever. Just bring your good looks and your dancing shoes, boys." That was 1989, and it's been all downhill from there. And then, even though it was a quasi-international scandal, every single record label in the world thought "Hmmmm." Only "Smells Like Teen Spirit" delayed the onslaught of the boy band. Oh, Kurt Cobain...where are you to defend us now...?
S: I see your point, but...Devil's Advocate says, "Why are Pearl Jam's records `music' more so than Timbaland's or Kanye's? Who's to say that what is produced by a drummer, bassist, guitarist, and vocalist is superior to what a producer can do with Pro Tools, or what I can do with Garage Band?" Ignore the rock purist within you that wants to lash out at your monitor right now. I'm not trying to put the Spice Girls on the same level as the Rolling Stones, but hey, there have always been bad rock bands too. Music is an evolving art. There was much ado about Dylan going electric. Don't get stuck in the past.
WR: I see what you're saying, but here's my point. It's all "music." What I'm talking about is the level of talent involved in making the music. This is going to sound like a crazy stat - but I'd say that 50% of Americans under 40 could come up with a catchy little beat that would stick in your head for a week or two if properly produced. What technology has done is allow people like this to make their music widely available. There's nothing wrong with that, per se, but I'm not too psyched for Lady Gaga's 3rd album, where she goes acoustic.
You're right that there have always been bad rock bands, a lot of whom end up on the charts (I'm looking at you, Limp Bizkit). There have always been pop groups that did no more than sing and dance (The Supremes, The Four Tops, etc.).
I know I sound like I'm stuck in the past, but as I write this, I have my iPod shuffling (don't get me started on that), and "Head Over Heels" by Tears For Fears has come on. Tears For Fears were a 100% bona-fide pop band. Instrument playing, dual vocal outfit that wrote hits. Wrote, arranged, and performed their hits. When Green Day's album comes out in a few weeks, they will be the only pop band on the charts equaling that achievement. You can discount Heaven and Hell, because the market for new music has only recently dipped low enough for them to dent the top 10 (no way they're there in 1998), and Rascal Flatts is a "country" act, and they'll pop up from time to time, too.
I guess it really goes back to the point we were making in our "La-a" discussion: Our standards are constantly evolving. In this case, however, you can see that the music industry is finding out that their standards are well below ours, and they are learning that the only demographic that truly votes are consumers, albeit with their feet.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
A) 2002 B) 2003 C)2005 D)2009
Correct Answer: D. That's RNC Chairman Michael Steele, speaking earlier today to ABC News Correspondent George Stephanopoulos, employing the tried and true Republican strategy of "to hell with what the electorate thinks."
Question 2) If the chair of a prominent political party is quoted as saying "We are going to take the president head-on. The honeymoon is over. The two-party system is making a comeback, and that comeback starts today" it can be determined that:
A) The party is in big trouble B) The party is in denial C) The party is out of touch
D) Not only is the party in trouble, but it has single handedly brought a collapse of a
realistic, national two-party system E) All of the above.
Question 3) When "many advisors" within your party suggest to you that, instead of taking on a very popular president, you should "...go after Nancy Pelosi, whom nobody likes. Or Harry Reid, whom nobody knows. Or this Tim Geithner fellow, whom nobody believes. Or maybe even Barney Frank, whom nobody understands" , the wisest move would be to:
A) Fire your advisors B) Ignore your advisors C) Step down from your post
D) All of the above E) Other
Question 4) When a political party claims they intend to "challenge those policies that we believe are wrong, and we are going to do so without apology and without a second thought"
A) Republicans B) Out of touch with the way our government works C) 6 years too late
D) About as politically viable as a 12 year old boy who's been raised by wolves and
has stumbled upon a hunting cabin full of whiskey, pornography, gunpowder and Palins.
E) A, B, and D
Correct Answer: E. Verse Eleven of the Democratic Party Oath is "Never attempt to challenge those policies that we believe are wrong, without apology and without a second thought. Ever."
Question 5) According to Michael Steele, change comes in:
A) 2010 B) A crispy gold filling C) threes D) a tea bag
Correct Answer: D. And really, who can disagree? Nothing washes down a Texas sized order of Freedom Fries like a hot cup of tea. Except maybe Robitussin and Drano, or whatever the hell it was that those teabaggers were drinking.
Question 6) ~BONUS QUESTION~ The absolute worst way to close an interview, while attempting to lend credibility and dignity to your argument, is to state:
A) "We are going to take this president on with dignity. This will be a very sharp and marked contrast to the shabby and classless way that the Democrats and the far left spoke of President Bush." B) "Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to see if this town can give a man what he needs, if you know what I mean...and what I mean is a little something a like to call women and booze." C) "Actually, one more thing. Have you seen 'Porky's Part 2"? No? Well, you should, because there's more to that movie than you'd think. I am not exaggerating at all to say that 80% of my political beliefs can be traced to that film." D) "We're done? Whoo, just in time. I think the Vicodin is wearing off. Hey, do you know any dentists? And, uhh, I kind of wet your chair. Whooa, is this thing still on? Are we on now? Do you mind if I sing, actually?"
E) All of the above
Answer: E. For the record, Steele went with A. Actually kind of makes you miss the morbid entertainment that was a George W. Bush interview. In a parallel universe, the greatest decision in the history of television will be made when George W. Bush replaces Bill O'Reilly, and launches "The 30 Minute NewsHour."
Sunday, May 17, 2009
I find this concept interesting (and decided to post it) for several reasons:
- It tackles the industry as a whole, as opposed to earlier films "SuperSize Me" and the film adaptation of "Fast Food Nation" - which focused solely on the fast food industry.
- It looks as though the film will present clear and concise evidence that a staple of our society is severely flawed and in need of change.
- Films that present clear and concise evidence that a staple of our society is severely flawed and in need of change are seldom seen as more than entertaining, treated more like "horror-documentaries" than calls to action. This makes the entire concept of the film that much more interesting.
- It is being released during a time when the health of our nation is a hot political topic. It will be interesting to see if this film can play a role in the national health care debate, much as "Fahrenheit 9/11" was intended to play in the 2004 election.
- Lastly, and most pertinent to this site, it fits with the recent posts about "generalized marketing" in that, well, let's just say that the high fructose corn syrup ads make more sense now. Don't be surprised to see flat-out "food" commercials popping up this spring and summer, as well.
Check it out, and check out the movie's site here:
Saturday, May 16, 2009
A lighthearted point was made, being that the more ambigious an ad campaign, the more potentially dubious it's product. This is not to say that beef and cheese are evil, but only Homer Simpson would eat "Beefy Cheese Savory Sugar Snacks" daily if given the opportunity.
None of this marketing, though, has been so pointedly ambiguous as that put forth by the American Plastics Council, who tout the abilityof their product to make "it" possible "every day" for "every generation." See for yourself:
Now, a different sort of plastics"commercial":
I guess thePlastics Council wasn't lying, after all.
Lastly, and in case you're wondering, here's what the Great Pacific Garbage Patch looks like:
Thursday, May 14, 2009
It looks as though the Obama administration may have discovered an alternative to illegal wire-tapping after all.
The second reporter in this clip, seen refusing to hand over his cell phone to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, is CBS News correspondent Bill Plante. He provides his side of the story here.
Now, there's no arguing that the polite thing to do when entering any sort of meeting is to silence your phone, but the thought of the White House Press Secretary getting his hands the personal information contained within, and then tossing it to an unseen staffer is enough to raise red flags with a few folks - Plante included, evidently.
This isn't the first time Plante has shrugged off suspect "regulations" at White House press conferences. As seen below, Plante successfully circumnavigated the Bush Administration's priceless "no questions" order at Karl Rove's farewell appearance, shouting "If he's so smart, how come you lost Congress?"
Not exactly dripping with integrity, but satisfying none the less.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
- "President Barack Obama declared Wednesday he would try to block the court-ordered release of photos showing U.S. troops abusing prisoners, abruptly reversing his position out of concern the pictures would "further inflame anti-American opinion" and endanger U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan...
- The White House had said last month it would not oppose the release of dozens of photos from military investigations of alleged misconduct...
- "This is not a situation in which the Pentagon has concealed or sought to justify inappropriate action," Obama said of the photos. "In fact, the most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger."
- The Justice Department filed a notice of its new position on the release, including that it was considering an appeal with the Supreme Court...
- Spokesman Robert Gibbs said release of the new batch of photos from the Pentagon cases would merely "provide, in some ways, a sensationalistic portion of that investigation."
- "The decision to not release the photographs makes a mockery of President Obama's promise of transparency and accountability," said ACLU attorney Amrit Singh, who had argued and won the case in question before the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. "It is essential that these photographs be released so that the public can examine for itself the full scale and scope of prisoner abuse that was conducted in its name."
- Human Rights Watch called the decision a blow to transparency and accountability... On Capitol Hill, Republicans welcomed the change, however.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we have officially entered the United States of Bizarro World.
Friday, May 8, 2009
Smack: For the purpose of this conversation, I’ll be addressing moustaches sans any accompanying facial hair. A moustache by it’s lonesome is not so much governed by age restrictions as it is by societal stigma. In the public eye, a solo moustache is (with few exceptions) a sure sign of either father hood or pedophilia. It’s viability as a facial hair option hinges on your willingness to passers-by let which of these two roles you fit.
WR: Do you think that has always been the case, though? Which of those two roles did Magnum PI or Michael Jordan fit?
S: Upon further reflection I’m tempted to add a third category for men who have demonstrated such an unwavering degree of manhood that they can carry their iconic mustaches across generational gaps into today’s world. I would include in this category Tom Selleck, Burt Reynolds, Wade Boggs, Ron Jeremy, Dale Earnhardt, Sam Elliott, Hulk Hogan, and of course Chuck Norris.
What is the Magnum PI of 2009? 24? Jack Bauer does not have a mustache.
Since you brought up Jordan we also have to discuss Larry Bird. I can’t include him in this new third category with that blond wispy mustache. He should have had to register as a sex offender for having it.
What I don't understand is, why has the goatee been able to escape the "eeew" factor? Kevin Youkilis has a nasty goat, but it's only when he goes 'handlebars only' that people speak up about it.
S: It is absolutely a thing of the times. In the 80’s and early 90’s mustaches were in, but now they’re not. My point was that there are certain wearers that are able to carry it over to today and still make it work. But when Jason Giambi comes out of nowhere with a huge ‘stache it’s on SportsCenter.
There’s no real answer for why the goatee escapes criticism. It’s a style thing. How, in 1992, did Hammer pants seem like a great idea? They just did.
WR: Yes, but is clothing different? We expect these sorts of fluctuations in taste with clothing, I just find it odd that facial hair is not immune. Even hairstyles, which can be dated, do not receive the same scrutiny as the 'stache. Well, maybe the mullet - but most mullet wearers probably have handlebar moustaches, too - so who knows what the true root of the criticism is.
Here's the other thing about goatees - they are the least manly facial hair. Not simply because they were popular in the 1990s, when being "Mr. Sensitive" was cool, but for the fact that they take the most manicuring. All of these manly - men with goatees are actually metrosexuals, based on the amount of time they spend grooming. Also, I heard a radio caller make the following point a while back, and it has stuck with me ever since: a goatee makes your mouth look like a vagina. Sorry to be crude, but it is true.
S: When you say that a man’s mouth makes you think vagina… you’ve left me nowhere to go with this.
WR: You're right, uncalled for, but true. Let's get back to the important issue here: Is there a line graph that can illustrate this phenomenon? As in, as time has gone by, it has become increasingly less acceptable for young men to grow and wear moustaches.
Why did this happen? What made women of a certain age of time period wake up one day, look at a moustache and think "eeew"? Because, if you think about it, women did not used to just find these acceptable, they were considered desirable.
Well, the election has come and gone, and after apparently going back to the drawing board (once again), the chain-mailers are back:
- Number of States won by: Democrats: 19 Republicans: 29
- Square miles of land won by: Democrats: 580,000 Republicans: 2,427,000
- Population of counties won by: Democrats: 127 million Republicans: 143 million
- Murder rate per 100,000 residents in counties won by: Democrats: 13.2 Republicans: 2.1
Professor Olson adds: "In aggregate, the map of the territory Republicanswon was mostly the land owned by the taxpaying citizens of the country. Democrat territory mostly encompassed those citizens living in government-owned tenements and living off various forms of government welfare..."
Olson believes the United States is now somewhere between the "complacency and apathy" phase of Professor Tyler's definition of democracy, with some forty percent of the nation's population already having reached the "governmental dependency" phase.
If Congress grants amnesty and citizenship to twenty million criminal invaders called illegals and they vote, then we can say goodbye to the USA in fewer than five years. If you are in favor of this, then by all means, delete this message.
If you are not, then pass this along to help everyone realize just how much is at stake, knowing that apathy is the greatest danger to our freedom.
Normally, these emails go straight to my 'delete' folder, but I was feeling a bit feisty today. My reply:
Republicans (at least those like this fellow - which are increasingly numerous) are always quick to point this sort of thing out, despite the fact that any reasonable American, regardless of party alliance, could put together a nice one of these little chain emails with statistics like "Percentage of Citizens with 4 year Degrees in Areas won by Party" and "Number of Universities" "Number of Museums" "Infant Mortality Rate" "Average Reading Level" "Life Expectancy" etc, etc. I would wonder what that grid would look like. I wonder what I would be called for pointing this out.
There are 2 reasons that most Americans don't do this: 1) The Union, who's sanctity Professor Tyler seems so anxious to uphold, holds it's Presidential elections through the electoral college. Every time it works against a party, it's "broken" - but when it works in your favor....well, that brings me to 2). Remember the election of 2000? If you do, you've ignored these same Republicans who told the majority of Americans - who voted for Al Gore (in fact, not just the majority, but at that point, the highest popular vote tally ever recorded for an individual candidate) to get over it. That was the past, time to rally behind our Commander in Chief. So, this is really just par for the course.
These are the same folks who rail about Federal spending under Democratic leaders, though Republicans spend multitudes more - and put up billboards like this:
...and say things like this: "I believe 9/11 could have been prevented if we'd had a Republican president at the time," Meehan (who put up the billboard) said Wednesday on CNN's "American Morning."
Also, Professor Tyler must have gotten a staffer from the University's Democratic-leaning math department to calculate his statistics, because they're a little "fuzzy" - unless two states have seceded from the Union. Perhaps the 29-19 tally (which totals 48) in favor of the Republicans, didn't work as well in his favor as does the actual final tally of 28-22 - in favor of the Democrats.
Again, most folks just delete these, and quietly chuckle to themselves about what they have just read. Not me, though, not anymore. I'm getting a little too tired about reading some one's lies about our truths destroying everyone's 'freedom.'
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Here's a proposal for a different approach to a political issue currently facing the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, one that would enhance the stature of the Governor and would also achieve the result most people think is correct.
Imagine the following. Each of those 10 former legislators receives the following call from the Governor's office: "I'm calling to let you know that at 3pm this afternoon, Governor Patrick is going to call on you and the other nine former legislators to voluntarily relinquish this pension benefit. He would be honored to have you stand by him during this press conference to announce that you have agreed to do so -- to give you a chance to receive credit for a selfless act that sends a signal to the people of the state that former public officials realize that this kind of benefit undermines public confidence and current efforts to balance the state budget and retain important services."
The second part of the conversation, to be held in reserve pending the reaction to this request, would be the following:"I'm sorry to hear that you feel this way. The Governor wanted me to let you know that, in that case,we will display a picture of you with the amount of payments you will receive in your lifetime both at this press conference and in every public appearance the Governor makes and on his websites, where hundreds of thousands of people will see this until the situation is legally reversed. He would prefer not to do that because he appreciates your years of public service, but there is something more important at stake here."
Now, perhaps those ten people wouldn't care about this, but I am guessing that their reputation in their community matters to them.
Maybe that would help them to do the right thing. Whether they did or did not, it would give the Governor additional moral authority to pursue appropriate legal action to undo this benefit and achieve other reforms. It would set him apart in the public eye and help in pending budgetary and pension fund matters.
Anonymous said...Paul, it’s one thing to capitalize on public opinion to bring about meaningful reform, but it’s another thing entirely to use a public office to strong-arm citizens under an ambiguous "moral authority." Should these pension payments cease? Absolutely. Is there a more practical and ethical way of handling this? Certainly. Imagine the precedent an action like this would set. What limits would this moral authority have? What recourse would the next group of targeted individuals have?
Paul Levy said...These are not "citizens" in the general sense. They are former legislators and are earning this money solely as a result of that legislative service. I think the Governor has the right to ask them to display a higher standard.
Ian McCarty said...1. The Governor has no "moral authority."2. We are all citizens in the"general sense."3. This would just be more grandstanding by the Governor, still the only hold out in terms of filing actual legislation to resolve this issue. As Tim Cahill said on Tuesday "I think the Governor is grandstanding on this issue. He's the only one who hasn't filed legislation to change this. The Senate has, the House has, and we've been filing some form of pension legislation for the past couple of years. Change going backward is just grandstanding. It's not going to save a lot of money in the long run, and it's not going to restore confidence if we're not changing things going forward."
WR: You're kidding. You think the Governor should be able to strong arm law abiding citizens based on a non-existent moral authority? Should a pro-life governor post photos of women who have had abortions on-line?
This is like when the government starts taking away civil liberties and tries to sooth the public by saying "law abiding citizens have nothing to fear."
S: How do you figure that public servants have no moral obligation? They’re voted into public office to serve the state. It’s wrong that they’re taking a pension. They should stop or face public scrutiny. It’s state money that they’re messing with. I don’t feel the same way about the private sector.
WR: We are governed by laws - not people. We don't elect kings, we elect officials to administer our government. Granted, we want forward thinking officials who can be both proactive and reactive in their management of our government. You do not legislate morals in this country - in fact, quite the opposite. Legislating morals violates freedoms that are inherently granted to us, and the government cannot impede upon or legislate - in other words, we come into being with rights, the government is in place to make sure no one gets in our way of exercising them.
S: No, that’s different. Unless the people on welfare are elected officials and their welfare payments are public record.
I don’t know the specifics about this law that they’re collecting pensions under so I can’t comment on the legality of what these people are doing. Following your logic…Outing these people would legal. The info is all public record. So it’s ok, right?
WR: About the law - it's questionable, and should be revoked - but it's the law. About the public record - you're right. But I'm not talking about the availability of information, I'm talking about the intent to intimidate. About the elected officials - if we expect them to follow the laws, they must be the same laws that govern all of us, and they must be enforced uniformly throughout the populous.
S: There’s a fine line between aggressive reform and two wrongs making a right. I think, specifically in this case, it’s ok to send a message. I don’t think it’s setting the precedent to strip private citizens of any rights.
WR: The precedent it's sets is "I am the Governor. My opinions regarding past events are de facto law. Anytime I find out somethings been going on that I don't like, I will change it - and pressure ‘violators’ to act like the law has been in place all along."
S: There are no quotes necessary for violators. What’s happening is not illegal but it’s wrong.
The precedent it sets is: if you’re a public official then you’re publicly accountable for wrongdoing.
WR: When does wrongdoing become wrongdoing?
S: In general or in this example? In this example it became wrong when they unethically took pensions.
In general - I don’t have enough time to put proper thought into a definition right now. I’m not going to just throw something out there for you to rip apart.
WR: Here is my larger point - both you and Paul are trying to say that the government should be able to specifically target individuals and instances that, however legal they may be, are not ethical, popular, or both. The problem with that is - we are a society of laws. When the government starts side stepping laws to enforce their agenda, even if it is in lock step with public opinion, you get the breakdown of our society. That may sound dramatic (and it is - but come on, this is me), but you can draw a parallel between this and, say, water-boarding, i.e. Terrorists: "Immoral." American Government: "Moral Authority." American Public: "Terrorists Bad!" American Government's course of action - "To hell with the laws! We're right! Go get the caterpillars and Dobermans." See what I mean?
S: But this isn’t about enforcing a particular agenda, unless you think doing the right thing is an agenda. This is about fixing a problem in a public forum. You can’t liken this to water-boarding because torture is illegal.
It’s the corruption that’s breaking down our society. If we start making these people accountable then maybe we’ll get somewhere. FYI, I think we should amend the law also.
WR: What is the "right thing?"
S: That goes beyond the scope of my argument. In this case it’s clear and it’s my understanding that you agree with me on that.
WR: I'm not arguing that the law is correct, I am arguing that law itself is correct.
I am sure there have been plenty of elected officials - again, W. comes to mind - who have thought "To hell with the law, it's wrong and I AM RIGHT!" It does not work that way, though. If you want the pensions to stop, change the law - you are the government, you can do that (to a point). As a matter of fact, it is all you can do within your elected capacity. To step outside of that capacity is an even more severe transgression against our system of government than is bilking it for a few thousand $k.
S: I agree that they should change the law.
I still have no problem with publicizing what these legislators have been doing and how much they’ve been taking. It’s not an extreme measure. The public should know, especially if these people are in a position to run again.
WR: We'll have to end it there, agreeing to very strongly disagree. The law is the law for a reason. I understand that in this case, the "violators" in question are former public officials, but this standard is an imaginary line that could be placed anywhere moving forward, were this precedent to be set.
S: But how is this even a precedent? Since when is pointing out public information a new thing?
There has to be accountability and transparency.
WR: We’re at an impasse. Let’s open this up to commenters.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Smack: Don’t think so – what is it?
WR: Check it out: Doritos.com (ed. note - please check this out and weigh in with your thoughts/ideas)
S: I don’t get it.
WR: Neither do I. It's one of those things that's bugging me a little too much. Either it's targeting people who are up late with the munchies - in which case, would make it about as sensible a move as "Bud Light: Cookout" - or it is an evil genius plot to get people to talk about Doritos who normally would not.
Or, I'm totally missing the point. The commercial, which I saw for the first time last night, doesn't help. Essentially, it’s the typical 18-29 Scion-ish commercial, with Doritos. At night. Late.
WR: Hmmm. Nice piece, and a nice site. Still doesn't get me any closer. Perhaps what I'm experiencing is a bit of disappointment. This is almost a good idea. Marrying 2 objects - or an object to idea(l) - is exciting whenever a new boundary is crossed.
If, this is as it seems - just an attempt by Doritos to appeal to the "Dude, what time is it?" crowd of late night eaters, then it almost backfires for a few reasons: 1) I would venture that Doritos has a pretty firm grip on a decent share of the "in-home, late night munchies" market among the targeted demographic. 2) The easiest way to get late-teens and early twenty-something’s NOT to buy something is to try this hard to sell it to them. 3) You're dividing your market unnecessarily. I'm not that into junk food, but I'd buy Doritos, and eat them in front of my boss, to boot. I would think twice about buying "Late Night Doritos" because they are so specifically targeted to a certain demographic. Like the "Overthinkingit.com" site points out - this is kind of like Cinemax. When some one says "I didn't see the Sopranos - I have Cinemax" there are those that hear "I was too busy enjoying 'Cinemax After Dark last night" and think to themselves "...dirty, dirty man." It would be as if The Cheesecake Factory came out with an "All Night Taco Stand" at select locations.
S: You’re going to buy them. Even if you deny it I won’t believe you.
WR: There is only one junk/snack food that I am powerless to resist: 'Hint of Lime' Tostitos. This is kind of my point - people up late at night, suffering from 'the munchies' eat snack food. Doritos and Tostitos both occupy that market. And while Tostitos Hint of Lime would undoubtedly satisfy the snack urges of plenty of those late night eaters - it does so without selling out, and eternally (or until the marketing budget dries up) linking itself to a somewhat questionable demographic.
To get to your point, Tostitos may be able to get me to buy 'Hint of Tequila', should they ever try.
WR: Well, I don't know. I've never seen a Funyuns commercial, or seen one in print. That could go either way. Actually, I'm not even sure I know which demographic you're referring to. I associate Funyuns with young children, so in that case - you'd go after them. Anything snack-foody or cool, just go after the kids. Parents want to make kids happy. This gets back to my comment about marketing to anyone under 30: that is a very perceptive demographic.
S: Funyuns aren’t heavily marketed, but the demographic I’m referring to would be all the main characters in “Half Baked.” I don’t see too many children being turned on to puffed rice with onion powder.
WR: That's why they call them 'Funyuns.' I wouldn't see too many children being turned on to puffed rice with partially hydrogenated corn syrup and yellow 32, until you call it 'Corn Pops.'
S: Which reminds me… Have you seen the new commercials for high fructose corn syrup? Seriously?
WR: Yes! Those go right with the Exxon Mobil commercials that try to say "we care about Earth." Again, it's just the trick of marketing - getting you to think for a second longer about a specific product than you normally should. Even though everyone who speaks English should be able to deduce that there is something inherently wrong about a commercial that's essentially: "Hi there! I'm high fructose corn syrup. Not that you were probably wondering at all, but there's nothing wrong with me. In fact, I'm made from corn. You like corn, right? Hey! Alright - good talk, America. Remember: just forget about me." Even in the case that these adds are targeting the select few who actually remember the strangely revelatory 1990s-ish discovery that "Hey, what do you know? This stuff is like sugar on steroids. It can rot your teeth and make you fat. What? Oh yeah, diabetes, too!" - most of those people could be taken care of with a "We're America's producers of high fructose corn syrup. We'd like to address a few of the concerns you may have about our product. As you all know...Hey! A blimp!" - cut to black.
It's really like a commercial from gasoline. Not a brand, just gasoline. Or a hybrid of both "Hi, I'm Peyton Manning speaking on behalf of high fructose corn syrup. You know how you could theoretically ride your bike to work, or take a train - but almost all of you drive a gasoline powered car? Well, the next time you're ready to dump all over high fructose corn syrup - good luck finding incredibly sweet food without it. You could, but, people would think you were just getting all uppity. Now back to this very special episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."
S: The whole campaign hinges on their new slogan, “It’s ok in moderation.” WHAT?
Even a Doritos Late Night patron can read between the lines and see that this product is not good for you.
You don’t see tobacco growers doing this. Why? Because as you point out, it just raises awareness of the issue that you’re fighting. Only the Corn Refiners Association could come up with an ad campaign like this. I can picture their board meeting… It takes place in Omaha in a barn loft, by torch light, and they’re getting all worked up in their overalls… One particularly articulate member speaks up: “We gotta do somethin!”
WR: ...and no one thinks "about what? We OWN the artificial sweetener market for everyone except Momorexics." Actually - bingo! There it is. It totally fits the criteria. It's a sensible commercial. They’re going for the Moms. Not for their kids, but for the actual Moms. "Hey, don't you miss juice? Because, you know, Crystal Light isn't juice. A little juice won't kill you. Also, tasty cookies. Just saying."
At least they're not going the alcohol 'moderation' route, where every add says to "Enjoy Responsibly" after presenting you with the following - A bunch of young people sitting around thinking "Awwww man, this is the worst lakeside gathering I've ever been at. And man oh man is it hot or what? hey...wait a minute...ice? In July??? Whooo hooo! Here comes the Silver Bullet! Yeah! Now that I'm smashed, I LOVE volleyball! And those hot chicks LOVE me! Thanks booze!"
Maybe the corn syrup folks could go after the kids with a commercial like this: Boring school lunch, same old fish sticks...chugga chugga CHOO CHOO!! It's the High Fructose Corn Syrup Express! Yaay! Popsicles! It's actually raining cookies! Juice with literally zero nutritional value from all the water fountains! Our teachers turned into The Wiggles - who are singing "M-o-d eee-ration!"
That would work.
S: If we could make that commercial that would be one of the better parodies/satires ever.
WR: And somewhere in Nebraska (or on Madison Avenue), the Corn Refiners of America's ad firm would think "damn!"