Dear Guru: Burning Down The House
Your home is on fire. Grab five items (assume all people and animals are safe). What did you grab?
You’re sick, you know that? Seriously. Get some help. I mean, I like a tasty thought experiment as much as the next guy, but come on! My home is on fire? Tell me how you really feel.
OK. I’ll do my best. I’m a professional and I still have a job to do. I have taken the Advice Columnist’s Oath and that means, basically, I have to take it. Each and every time. Very well. Out of respect for the craft I will give this question a serious response.
What do I grab?
First Item: “Screen.”
I grab the screen. Get it? Screen grab? Woo hoo! I crack myself up. I’m a real hoot. My house is on fire and I’m cracking some of my best improv material ever. It’s a win win.
Professionalism be damned.
Uh, what was the question again?
Seriously, though. I’m not kidding. The 42″ flat screen LCD TV is obviously the first thing. I’m not insane. An American is nothing without his TV. And I can carry that puppy under my arm, all by myself. I’m sure it won’t be too heavy because I’ll be all hopped up on adrenaline from the flames.
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Trampling is supposed to be fun
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving Eve. Just enough time to get in one more shot of negativity before the day the shit steps off and I pause my normal routing to give thanks.
Tomorrow brings my annual benediction of hope and light. In guru parlance it’s known as the blind spot. But I’ll be back to form by Friday in time for hottest shopping day of the year.
May you shop until you drop.
And now, sing with me, won’t you?
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…
I think I wanna die
And come back as four-digit code
My life would have purpose
Gatekeeper to the mother lode
So there I was trying to explain a few simple concepts to my friend who lived in the dirt and owned* only a bush. (By owned I mean that his family had lived there for generations longer than anyone could remember, but any day now the government would show up and confiscate the land for sale to a multinational corporation of which my friend would see zero compensation.)
I was telling him about what was new in my life. “After dinner I’m going to have to swing by the storage unit to drop off some more of my stuff.”
He looked confused. “What is this dinner of which you speak? That is a strange word to me.”
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Bundle this with your small print
An online ad for Qwest internet service says, “Connection speeds up to 7 mbps just $25 a month for 12 months.” That sounds pretty good. Maybe I’m actually interested. Ooops! Wait one cotton-picking minute. Underneath comes the bad news in grayed text and a smaller font: “When bundled with home phone service.” Ah, therein lies the rub!
Or consider Dan Hesse, the CEO of Sprint, the guy who inserts himself into his own company’s TV commercials, when he says, “Wouldn’t it be nice to get everything we offer for one low monthly rate?” Sure. I’d go for all that and a bag of chips. By the way, what is the rate for their “Simply Everything” plan? $99.99 a month for an individual or $189.98 a month for the “family” version (which includes up to two lines.) Fuck me! For a goddamn cell phone?????? Why doesn’t he mention those numbers in the TV commercials? Not exactly the kind of information that will induce one to sprint to the phone to order, eh?
Taco Bell (quickly approaching cliché status here in the abyss) is currently running an advertising campaign for something known as the “Drive-Thru Diet.”
How does a dictionary define the word “diet?”
“a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one’s weight”
What does Taco Bell say about usage of the word “diet” in the fine print for this promotion?
“DRIVE-THRU-DIET® IS NOT A WEIGHT-LOSS PROGRAM … NOT A LOW CALORIE FOOD.”
Calling it a “diet” while at the same time claiming it is not a diet. Fiendishly clever, motherfuckers.
Or how about the local big box store? They run an ad that says “Everything is on sale!” with an asterisk. The fine print, of course, says something like: “Excludes housewares, linens and home electronics.” It makes me wonder how they can use the word “everything” for something like that. You keep using that word “everything.” I do not think it means what you think it means. Inconceivable!
The biggest bundle pusher ever, however, has got to be Charter Cable, one of the worst companies of all time. They can’t sell all of their cable TV advertising space, so they cram those unsold spots to the gills with commercials for their own shit. Which consists primarily of them hyping something known as the Charter “bundle.” They want you to “bundle and save” but the reality is that if you fall for the bundle you’ll end up sending them more money than if you had only ordered what you really wanted. On the plus side, however, Charter assures you that one of the benefits is that your bill will be “simplified.” Gee, if only there was someone who had control over the bill who cared enough to make it simple in the first place. Bundle up your cable TV, your high-speed internet and our crappy telephone product and “save.” Of course, bundling doesn’t change the fact that it is still the same shitty company. FAIL.
What ever happened to truth in advertising? Why are companies allowed to advertise using words that are absolutely devoid of meaning and are utterly false? Why does our government simply stand by and shrug as they do that? Advertisers shouldn’t be allowed to use a word like “everything” unless it actually means “everything.” I mean, come on! That’s the freakin’ purpose of that particular word! The fact is that our government doesn’t enforce jack shit on commercials except in the most extreme and egregious of cases. The rest of the time it is open season, and on who? Yep, the American consumer.
By the way, “He went to Jared” isn’t covered by the concept of truth in advertising. For that we desperately need the Anti-Hurl in Advertising Act or what I like to call AHAA!
Tater tots with their eyes all aglow
Nothing too heavy for Christmas Eve. It’s sort of like a mandatory break from bitching.
I am proud to say, however, that this year I finally got into the spirit and put up a negativity scene in our front yard. ‘Tis the season ya know!
Encouraging job data sent stocks up to 2009 highs in a shortened holiday session on Wall Street:
New claims for unemployment benefits fell 28,000 to 452,000 last week, the Labor Department reported, the latest sign of improvement in the job market. It was the best figure since September 2008, just before the credit crisis peaked, and better than the 470,000 new claims economists had predicted.
In other tidbits today:
- Stocks pushed higher in December amid “optimism” about the economy
- Orders for durable goods (excluding transportation sector) jumped two percent last month, double what analysts had predicted
- Even with the east coast slammed by recent storms holiday spending appears to be up from last year
- The Senate pased the health care reform bill this morning, voting along party lines – 60-39 – in the first Christmas Eve vote since 1895.
There will be a lot of jabber-jawin’ in the lead-up to New Year’s Eve regarding the “end of a decade.” Whoop-dee-do. For me it was decidedly the worst decade of my life. But I’ve often heard it said that every cloud has a silver lining. If so, for me Mrs. Abyss must be that lining. If this decade hadn’t unfolded the way it did I would never have met her.
If we’re going to insist on the humorous human tradition of measuring time and celebrating integer values, I will grudgingly look to the future in an attempt to put this decade behind me. The beauty of being at the bottom of the barrel is that you can only go up.
The end of 2009 also marks a year where the so-called “bystander effect” got a lot of attention, and deservedly so. In Oct. a 15-year-old woman was gang raped for two hours while as many as 15 to 20 people watched or took part. We need a law that makes every bystander 100 percent guilty of the crime they are watching if they do nothing to stop it.
Yes, 2009 can kiss my ass as well.
For today, however, it is time for celebrations, especially the fact that I don’t have to work in the shithole for four glorious days. Hallelujah!
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!