So Long Vowels, We Hardly Knew Ye

Posted in Rants on May 9, 2009 by Eric

I’m not much of a text messager… er, messenger…whatever.  Point is, I primarily use my phone as, get this: a phone (gasp!).  There are several reasons why I use the spoken word in lieu of the abbreviated word, but the main reason is that I don’t understand “text language”.  Unfortunately for me, I was raised in an English-speaking household.  Little did my parents know how ill-prepared this would leave me for life in the 21st century.  I grew in in a world of phonics, punctuation, and capitalization.  These will soon be relics of a forgotten era.  Sad, but true.

I’m not as down on texting as a form of communication as I used to be.  There are times when I need to get a message to someone who I know can’t answer their phone at that particular moment.  In those situations, I will send a text.  What baffles me are people who have entire conversations through text messaging.  In order to do this, you have to have a phone in your hand.  The person with whom you’re communicating has to have a phone in their hand.  Seems like a quick dialing of a few numbers could save people a lot of trouble.  I’m pretty sure that’s why the phone was invented, wasn’t it??  However, typing out every single individual thought you want to share with a person would take forever.  To get around this, serial texters have devised a cunning plan.  That plan involves the complete and total butchering of the English language.

Um...what?

Um...what?

I’m not sure when numbers and letters merged into a single unintelligible basis of language, but I must have been absent that day.  The infuriating part of all this is that it is escaping the medium of text messaging and infiltrating other forms of communication.  I’ve read conversations between two people on Facebook that didn’t contain a single word that can be found in any dictionary.  I’m sure that kids these days would have attempted to abbreviate actual speech if drunk people hadn’t already beaten them to it.

Let’s bring this all back to what is really important, namely me.  The reason I don’t send many text messages myself is because it takes me forever to do it.  The reason?  I insist on using correct spelling, capitalization, and punctuation (I’m sure my former English teachers are wondering why I didn’t adopt a similar policy in high school).  However, this is not an attempt to better myself.  I do it simply out of spite.  Hey, progress is progress.

I’ll end with a Public Service Announcement.  If I am behind you in my car and I’m stuck going 10 mph below the speed limit because you are trying to text while driving, I will spin you into the median without the slightest bit of remorse as a favor to my fellow motorists.  Not that you’ll stop texting of course…I can see it now:

“OMG im ttly facin d rong direkshun ryt now!!!”

Comments?  Just call me.

-ES

Mugshot of the Week: 5/8/09

Posted in Raves on May 9, 2009 by Eric

In an earlier post, I mentioned my fondness for the Weekly Mugshot Roundup from The Smoking Gun website that is posted every Friday.  I’ve decided to pick my favorite from every weekly batch and post it here.  Why?  Because I feel like I’m helping everyone feel just a little bit better about themselves.  I’m nothing if not a public servant.

Without further ado, this weeks winner is…

What can we ascertain from this picture?  1) He was in some sort of altercation.  2) He lost.  3) He got arrested.  4) It was the absolute highlight of his day.  For some reason, I feel happy for this guy.

-ES

Down Home Road Rage

Posted in Rants on May 7, 2009 by Eric

I was born and raised in the South.  Two years ago, I moved to Indianapolis and began my field study of life north of the Mason-Dixon line.  Even the Midwest is a bit of a culture shock to a grits-and-gravy southern boy, but overall I’m very happy here.  I’ve learned several things in my two years in Indiana, most notably that sweet tea is a taste not yet acquired by all people, not everyone calls shopping carts “buggies”, the weather here changes every five minutes, and you can tell what month it is by height and color of the corn crops.  But there is one lesson I’ve learned above all others…

People in Indiana don’t know how to freaking drive.

I grew up in the foothills of the southern tip of the Appalachian Mountains.  Our roads were curvy and hilly.  Indiana is flat, almost depressingly so if you’re used to a mountainous backdrop, which means that the roads here are long and straight.  Where I live now, the numbered roads go east and west, and the named roads go north and south.  I actually like this setup because it made it much easier to learn my way around.  However, the grid of two lane roads makes for a lot of four-way stops.  This wouldn’t be a bad thing except for 90% OF THE PEOPLE HERE DON’T KNOW HOW TO NAVIGATE A SIMPLE FOUR WAY STOP!

For those of you who didn’t learn this at the age of fifteen (a population I was unaware existed until two years ago), when you approach a four-way stop, you proceed in the order in which you arrived at the intersection.  Not hard.  However, when the average Indiana driver approaches a four-way stop intersection they typically react thusly:

File photo

File photo

I would like to break down the different categories of idiots who can’t handle the simplest of traffic situations:

The “Holy Crap What Do I Do Now I Can’t Make A Simple Decision On My Own?!” Driver

This particular type of road warrior could be a Harvard graduate, but when they see that stop sign, their intelligence level reverts to a state best described as “in the womb”.  They sit with a deer-in-headlights expression on their face as approximately 3,452 cars go through the intersection.  Meanwhile, the line behind them stretches all the way to a small Canadian village called Les Mechins (translation: The Mechins), while every driver behind them is two seconds from snapping like Michael Douglas in “Falling Down”.  Finally, after a period of 3 1/2 to 4 hours, the terrified driver plows through the intersection full speed with their eyes closed, narrowly avoiding other vehicles and the nice old man with the jumper cables who was attempting to jumpstart what he thought was a broken down 1998 Saab.

The “Oh Crap I Was On My Cell Phone and I Don’t Know Whose Turn It Is” Driver

This self-absorbed Sunday driver approaches the intersection with a phone stuck in one ear, completely wrapped up in what is obviously the most important conversation on the planet.  Judging by the complete lack of attention paid to the road, I can only assume that this person is discussing the development of a new chocolate-flavored corn hybrid that simultaneously ends our dependence on foreign oil and cures AIDS.  When their turn finally arrives, they are snapped back into reality (courtesy of my horn) and sit shell-shocked for a few seconds before trying to telepathically communicate with the other three drivers “Can I go now?  Now?  My turn?  Now??  Is it my turn?”.  By the time they realize it’s their turn to go, I’ve usually pushed them through the intersection with my bumper.  Nicely, but firmly.

The “If I Don’t Look At the Stop Sign I Don’t Have To Obey It” Driver

This person is more important than you.  Much more important.  They can’t be bothered by silly things such as traffic laws and personal safety.  This person treats right-of-way as something to be taken by force.  Mercy (and merging) are for the weak.  If you see this person approach the same intersection you are approaching, stop immediately, because they aren’t.  Sometimes as a courtesy, they will slow down to 55 mph as they go through the intersection, and if you are lucky enough to experience this, they expect a thank-you wave.

However, the state of Indiana has found a way to make sure that all drivers come to a complete stop at all intersections.  They have replaced many of the four-way stops that have so confused their citizenry with roundabouts designed to speed up traffic by not even requiring people to stop.  But they stop anyway because one indisputable fact is that people fear the unknown.  And in Indiana, the unknown is an inverted triangle:

Good luck out there.

-ES

Manufactured Media

Posted in Rants on May 4, 2009 by Eric

Ok, so this whole swine flu thing has me thinking.  Not about how to protect myself against the apparent mother-of-all-pandemics, but rather about how easily led the American public is by flashy graphics and foreboding news anchors.  These days, mass media is an ocean of money.  I may of missed the boat on this one, but that doesn’t mean you should.  I can see the infomercial now…(channeling Billy Mays)

“Hello, and welcome to How to Run A Successful Cable News Station in 3 Easy Steps!  Pay attention, and soon you’ll be rolling in money Ron Burgundy-style!  In just 3 easy steps, you can become the next American media mogul.  Are you ready?  Here you go:

1. Create a false sense of panic.

2. Report on the ensuing panic.

3. Profit!

It’s just that easy!”

Call now!  Heres how to order!

"Call now! Here's how to order!"

During the first Gulf War, CNN came into prominence and proved that news can work in the realm of Cable TV.  They launched the Headline News channel, and for the first time, the American public could get their news 24-hours a day.  The stories were presented on a 30-minute loop and updated at various intervals every few hours.  This means that you could take a half hour out of your day at any given time and get caught up on the news.  How convenient.

These days, it’s not that simple.  The ease and convenience of the 30-minute loop is gone.  There are several reasons why this happened.  The main reason is that we live in the age of the Internet, where any conceivable type of information is immediately available on a whim.  So the 24-hour format CNN pioneered faded into obscurity right?  Oh wait…it spawned MSNBC, CNBC, and Fox News.  Fantastic.

So how do four different networks compete for viewers in a genre that is being rendered more unnecessary by the minute?  Well, the concise half-hour loop has been replaced by 24-hour live streaming infotainment!  The main problem with this is (shh, don’t tell anybody) there isn’t 24-hours worth of news in a given day, much less every day.

In essence, cable news has become the same as your average vitamin pill, 1% substance and 99% filler.  I heard stories about Barack Obama’s dog for two solid weeks.  Shockingly, this has been one of the more relevant stories.  There is actually a Twitter feed called DumbCNNStories which tracks real news headlines.  Let’s take a look at a few:

“Why women are leaving men for other women”

“8 love lessons you can learn from movies”

“Are you and best buddy in a ‘bromance’?”

“Valerie Bertinelli hanging on to fat clothes”

What happened?  I actually had to do a double take to make sure that I was looking at cnn.com and not the cover of Cosmo.  However, the general public will eventually tune out what are basically lame Jerry Springer show topics (although if they start throwing chairs at the news desk, you can bet I’ll be watching).  To get ratings, you need hard-hitting stories that capture the attention and strike fear into the heart of John Q. Everyman.  And if there are none of those stories to be found, you can simply make them up!

That’s where the swine flu “pandemic” comes in.  The swine flu, unfortunately, has reportedly resulted in the deaths of anywhere between 25 and 150 people in Mexico, with no deaths reported in the United States.  I definitely do not mean to trivialize the deaths of those affected, but this is by no means something to panic about.  Especially when you consider the fact that the regular flu has killed over 13,000 Americans since January (source: ironically, CNN).  So why did the whole country get in one giant tizzy and start closing schools and canceling sports events?  Simply put, we were told to.  And we bought it hook, line, and sinker.  So while the viewing public changed their collective underwear, the news networks got a solid two-week ratings boost.

Will not kill you, but not recommended.

Will not kill you, but not recommended.

Somebody should really write a book about how mainstream media has degenerated into the equivalent of a terrible daytime talk show.  Oh wait, someone did.  Kids, your first reading assignment from the R.O.T.U Book Club (watch out Oprah, we’re coming for you!) is authored by Drew Curtis, the founder of Fark.com.  It’s called “It’s Not News, It’s Fark: How Mass Media Tries to Pass Off Crap As News”.

Reports are due next week.

-ES


The Death of the Man’s Man

Posted in Rants on May 1, 2009 by Eric

I am an endangered species.  To my knowledge, the World Wildlife Fund is not currently seeking donations for my preservation, but they should.  You see, I am a man.  Now, I’m not a big guy nor do I hunt, fish, or chop wood.  I’m not trying to claim I’m some kind of John Wayne.  I am a man simply in the sense that I have embraced my gender, and I am one of a dying breed.  You see, I do things that are strange among today’s young man such as tuck in my shirt, shave before going to work or church, avoid makeup and expensive hair products, and speak a generally accepted form of English.  My collar is always folded down, and you’ll never catch me in a tanning bed.  Strange, I know.  The modern man is dying my friends, and with his death the line that separates what is male and female is further blurred.  Let’s outline the causes, shall we?

1. Guyliner

Pop quiz:  Name the two words that are least likely to come to mind when viewing these pictures.  If you answered “gainfully employed”, you win.  Congratulations.  Seriously, when did eyeliner on a man become acceptable?  Apparently this is the trend of today’s current “rock” musician (term used loosely).  Please.  You want to see a rock star?  Look at Bruce freaking Springsteen.  And if Bruce were ever asked to share a stage with these “guys”, I’m sure he’d brain them with his Telecaster.  Trust me, I don’t want to see the kind of groupie that ends up backstage at a Good Charlotte concert.  I can only imagine something along the lines of a less attractive Boy George.

2. The Man-Tan

Repeat after me: ORANGE DOES NOT EQUAL TAN!  For the love of all that is holy, please commit this to memory.  What baffles me is why anyone would subject their skin to this much abuse when an orange Crayola marker would give the exact same result.  Plus, they’re non-toxic so that’s just an added bonus.  Guys, looking like a tomato is not cool unless you are a little 3D animated character named Bob.  If you carrot-wannabes don’t know who that is, then you obviously don’t have kids and at this rate you never will.

3. Hair Gel Sculptures

First, let’s address the ultimate coward hairstyle, the faux-hawk.

The Mohawk is the ultimate example of the punk lifestyle.  It says to the world “I play by my own rules and reject society’s example of what is considered acceptable appearance.”  The faux hawk says to the world “My mom won’t let me shave or dye my hair, so if I just shove it all towards the middle and hold it there with some Vaseline, I’m still cool right?”

The other scourge of the masculine follicle is the dreaded “Whole-Tube-Of-Gel Spike”

If you’re confused, the picture on the right is a cartoon character.  I know it can be hard to tell sometimes.

4. Popped Collars

Attention guys, the following people can successfully pull off the popped collar look:  Elvis.  That’s it, that’s the list.  This is a ridiculous trend that has to be stopped immediately.  It’s being taken to an unhealthy extreme.  Don’t believe me?  Allow me to present the following side-by-side comparison as Exhibit A:

The resemblance is uncanny.  So the lesson is, unless you can balloon to 300 lbs., rock a sequin leisure suit, and still be regarded as an international sex symbol…flip your collar down.

5. The Chin Curtain

The first rule of facial hair is that there are only two acceptable types of facial hair for men:  the mustache, or the full beard.  Any arguments to the contrary can be taken to my assembled Facial Hair Committee, pictured below:

Objections?  Didn’t think so.

If you are unfamilar with the Chin Curtain, basically you just take a glue stick, trace it along your jawbone, and then rub your face onto the back of a shedding dog.  The result is this:

1993 Goatee optional.

1993 Goatee optional.

Be warned, if you choose to go out in public like this, your day will most likely end with Tom Selleck stealing your woman followed by Chuck Norris delivering a devastating roundhouse kick to your temple.

The Apocolypse

What happens when you take all of the aforementioned atrocities and combine them into the ultimate knife in the back of masculinity?  The following is not for the squeamish…

God help us all…

-ES

I’ve seen the end of the world, and it’s in Southern California.

Posted in Rants on April 28, 2009 by Eric

I can best be described as being, at the very most, on the fringe of pop culture.  I stick to my little world consisting of my favorite sports teams, old blues music, and Seinfeld reruns (and Wii Tennis…I will destroy you at Wii Tennis).  It’s a simple, happy existence that is only disturbed when I foolishly venture back into the world of the 18-24 year old demographic.  Recently I visited that world, and what I found shook my very faith in humanity.

If you are not familiar with Spencer Pratt, Heidi Montag, or “The Hills”, please stop reading this immediately.  My feelings won’t be hurt, and it’s for your own good.  Nothing good can be gained by learning what I have learned.  I was not familiar with these people either until my curiosity got the best of me.  Somehow in the background of everyday life, I kept hearing the names Spencer and Heidi.  And for some reason, as these names kept being repeated within earshot over the course of several months, they stuck around in my head (I can see my wife taking notes already).  Sometime later, as I was standing in the checkout line at Walmart, I saw these two on several magazine covers and figured that these people are apparently important and I should at least find out who they are.  This was the first in what became a series of mistakes.

My first stop was Wikipedia (a.k.a The Source of All Knowledge) and learned that these people star in a show called “The Hills” .  This program airs on MTV, which I learned through further research is a cable channel that at one time played music videos.  Hmm…seems like I would have remembered that.  Moving on.  The apparent premise of this show is to take a bunch of young adults, put them in grown-up situations, and have them act like 13-year olds (at least I assume they are acting).  Throw in a ton of unearned money and a ridiculous sense of entitlement, and you’ve got yourself a hit show!

Having determined the impetus of their cultural relativity, I set out to learn more about Spencer and Heidi.  Typing Mr. Pratt’s name into a Google Image search yielded the single most punchable face in the history of mankind:

Is that spray-on stubble?

Is that spray-on stubble?

Up until now, I thought there were only two Hilton sisters.  Guess I was wrong.  Unfortunate plastic face aside, I set out to determine what discernible talent this Spencer fellow possessed to account for his fame.  Three hours later, I gave up.  The Hilton corollary is even more uncanny.

Now, having an enormous amount of sympathy for the unfortunate soul doomed to be linked by the media to a life-sized Ken doll, I began my research into the life of Heidi.  Her Google Image results were not anything spectacular.  Another platinum blonde with way too much makeup.  That’s so common in L.A. that it is standard-issue Photoshopped onto all California driver’s licenses.  What’s this?  She’s starting a music career?  I wonder if she’s any good…

Before commenting on this, I need to take care of something right quick.  Hang with me for a second…(bowing head).  “Dear Lord, please forgive me for whatever I have done to offendeth Thee so, for Thy wrath hath rend mine ears in twain.  Amen.”

I thought the whole point of lip synching was to pretend that you are a good singer.  If you sound like crap in the studio, hire a different person to do the actual singing.  Don’t laugh, Milli Vanilli won a Grammy that way.  I took consolation in the fact that after seeing this video, Heidi decided that a music career wasn’t in her future and proceeded to explore other avenues in showbusiness.  Strike that, she has a 5-song EP available on iTunes.  Shockingly, they are charging money for this with a straight face.  The infliction of this attempt at “music” on the American public needs to be stopped like the swine flu.

So why are these two vapid excuses for celebrities in the news recently?  Well, they have apparently decided to create a giant vortex of suck by getting MARRIED.

At the moment this photo was snapped, a baby kitten died.

At the moment this photo was snapped, a baby kitten died.

Due to the fact that forced sterilization is currently not permitted by U.S. law (even if it is for the good of all mankind), we need to have a contingency plan in place.  The inevitable demon spawn of this unholy union must be captured at birth and bathed daily in holy water until the horns shrivel up and fall off.  It’s our only hope.

-ES

Why I Watch NASCAR

Posted in Raves, Videos on April 26, 2009 by Eric

Despite growing up in Georgia, I didn’t always watch NASCAR.  I guess I didn’t want to feed into the stereotype.  Same reason I don’t chew tobacco.  I love sweet tea and I speak with a very heavy twang, but I gotta draw the line somehwere (my wife and I are NOT related…promise).  I only became a NASCAR devotee about 4 or 5 years ago, but I’ve become a full-blooded Dale Jr. fan since then.  I know he isn’t the best driver on the track, but he’s one of the last throwbacks to the good old days of “get out of my way or I’ll put you into the wall” hardcore racing.  These days I live in Indiana, which is a hotbed of racing, but everybody in the Hoosier state is more interested in Indy car.  I don’t like Indy (or Formula 1) because there is very little passing.  If I want to watch a group of vehicles drive in a single-file line at 200 mph, I’ll just DVR the Macy’s parade and watch it in fast-forward.  I have people ask me from time to time “how can you watch NASCAR?”  Today, I was reminded.

Talladega.  It’s the biggest, fastest track on the circuit, and every race there has at least one giant wreck.  This one was no different, but the best wreck of the day was on the final lap and only involved two cars.  Carl Edwards, the leader, got spun out on the final lap.  He then proceded to hit the windshield of the third place car with his tire, before spinning upside-down and  airborne into the fence.  We’re not finished yet, hang with me for a second.  After his flaming shell of a car skidded to a stop about 200 yards short of the start/finish, Edwards proceeded to climb out and run across the finish line on foot.  Ladies and Gentleman, Carl Edwards is officially my second-favorite driver of all time.  He could have secured the top spot if he had just done his trademark backflip off the wreckage that was his car.

Video?  You bet.

If you are wondering why I watch NASCAR…THAT is why I watch.  Now where’s my spitoon…

-ES

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