Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Publicity 101, plus two bonus musings

Today's Subject: How To Apologize When You Don't Think You Did Anything Wrong

So you snorted some cocaine off a hooker's breasts and then beat up a man who had no hands. So what? The whole reason you became famous was so that you could do these things with impunity. But the suits want you to issue a public apology. Well, then, it's time for you to issue what I'm going to call the "nopology," a phrase carefully designed to make it look like you're apologizing when you are, in fact, doing no such thing.

Nopologies rely on grammatical tricks and a positive bias from an audience that wants to hear your apologize. The oldest nopology in the book is "Mistakes were made." It's a classic because its use of the passive voice ensures that you never have to say who made the mistake. (Probably the guy with no hands.)

The next advance in nopologies is the "I'm sorry if…" phrase, here demonstrated by Annie Leibovitz:

I'm sorry that my portrait of Miley has been misinterpreted.

This is a brilliant nopology. It begins with the words "I'm sorry." The ignorant pukes out there will zone out after those two words: that's what they expected to hear from Annie. But look carefully at that sentence again.

I'm sorry that my portrait of Miley has been misinterpreted.

What is Annie apologizing for? She's sorry for the misinterpretation. In other words, she has not said that she's sorry for anything she did. She is saying that she's sorry for the way somebody else thought of her actions. This nopology is the greatest evolution of a ploy you may have used in grade school:

I'm sorry… sorry that you're an idiot!

(Please start using the word "nopology" in your daily life and we'll see if we can get this one in a dictionary someday.)

Bonus #1: Wal*Mart owns Ocean Pacific? When did that happen? Is this going to lead to a bunch of "California Games" players defecting to the Maxx-Out or Casio teams?

Bonus #2: If you're a sketch comedy writer, here's a premise for you. Yosemite Sam makes a guest appearance on "Deadwood."

Cue "Also Spracht Zarathustra"

People are starting to ask me "Won't you be excited to graduate?" Well, not really. Graduation is only a brief respite, because on May 21st, I'll be right back in those classrooms, with about two months to learn…

…all of this.

This summer is going to suck.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Rolling three consecutive doubles is a misdemeanor

I just played a game of Monopoly against the CPU. Here are some things I would've said during the game if I'd been playing against you instead.

• I bought Baltic and Mediterranean Avenues pretty early on, making me the "slum lord." But looking at Google Maps, it doesn't look like those two streets are actually any less ritzy than anywhere else in town:

(It also looks like Illinois Avenue has been renamed after you-know-who. Couldn't they name a street after Thurgood Marshall or Medgar Evans or George Washington Carver, just for a change?)

• People in the 1930s must have really liked math. There's no way most of today's players could keep track of mortgage amounts and 115% of the value of hotels.

• I can't remember when I made the change in pronouncing the name of the railroad from "reeding" to "redding." Probably after I started following English soccer.

• This game has a seriously inflationary economy. I wonder if, through the correct form of play, you could actually run the bank out of money, causing an economic crash - that's probably why there aren't enough houses and hotels to go around.

Friday, April 25, 2008

This isn't worth getting mad about, but I've got cabin fever

I was talking to a professor the other day and she said that we don't have enough shame in our culture, and that we could use shame as a powerful tool for deterrence of bad acts. Now, I was raised Catholic, so I got guilt instead. But my thorough knowledge of guilt translates well to shame, and I'm going to shame somebody right now for the benefit of all ten or so of you who read this blog.

Karen Springen of Newsweek is a bad journalist.

One of her recent "web exclusive" stories was the story of "My Beautiful Mommy." Springen wrote:

When she was pregnant with her son Junior, who turns nine this month, Gabriela Acosta ballooned from 115 pounds to 196. Acosta lost the weight but wound up with stretched, saggy skin. Even her son noticed it. He told her that her stomach looked "pruney," the result, he thought, of staying in the shower too long. So the 29-year-old stay-at-home mom scheduled a consultation with Dr. Michael Salzhauer, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Bal Harbour, Fla.

Acosta told Salzhauer that she wasn't sure how to talk to her son about the procedures she was considering. That's when he showed her the manuscript for his children's picture book, "My Beautiful Mommy" (Big Tent Books), out this Mother's Day.

She goes on like this for three pages. But there's an important detail that she forgot to mention.

Big Tent Books is a vanity press. They print the books and sell them back to the author, but don't distribute them to stores. This book isn't worth an article any more than some conspirazoid's self-published expose on the missing connection between JFK and Vince Lombardi.

If you see "My Beautiful Mommy" on a shelf somewhere or for sale on Amazon, it's only because Springen's non-story story brough the book to public attention. So, Karen Springen of Newsweek, what's the deal? Do you own stock in Big Tent Books? Or were you just trying to meet a deadline, comfortable in the knowledge that whatever you report, even if it's incredibly insignificant, technically becomes news? Is this something you're going to teach your classes at Northwestern?

See, now isn't shaming fun? It's more fun when you do it to a stranger. If I knew her I'd probably give her another chance, but I don't know her so to hell with her.

Fun Fact! (not actually a fact)

Zorro's real name was Oscar Olivares, but he changed it because it was too hard to draw an "O" with a rapier.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Yes, he supports Ron Paul

I'm going crazy. Really, really crazy. Crazy enough that I'm always on the edge of dropping my usual smartassery and just screaming and crying and flipping out.

But it is comforting to know that there are people crazier than I am, like the guy who's decided to compile the Library of Halexandria. Seems that he couldn't get just one batshit insane theory: oh, no. He's subscribed to all of them, from "kids with dyslexia and ADD actually have superpowers" to Lord of the Rings is actually about the Sumerian gods, whom you can contact when you get on a higher astral plane" to "the world is secretly run by international bankers." (And what religion would these bankers be?)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Anything for a few votes

Word has it that Hillary got over in Pennsylvania, but I don't think this promo had anything to do with it.

Seriously, "Hil-Rod?" She needs to get a manager to talk for her while she works on her mic skills. Maybe she can appoint Paul Bearer as her running mate.

Obama's goofy smirk lets you know exactly what he thinks about this PR stunt, while McCain actually goes to the effort of trying to sound a little bit menacing. He ends up using the voice that I would use when portraying the Big Bad Wolf in a children's play.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

?tortxof ognat yeksihW

I will now chronicle for you my reaction to this picture.

click for large

1. Unflinching stare for about two seconds.
2. Tilt head fifteen degrees to the right.
3. Continue staring.
4. Squint slightly.
5. Draw down corners of mouth.
6. Scratch head.
7. Save to desktop.

Monday, April 21, 2008

You, too, can be a wordsmith

I've decided that there are a few concepts that exist in my life that need terms to describe them, but I can't really think of good words for them. I'd like to solicit your assistance.

What would be a good word for…

…the type of commercial which features two people: one of them is an idiot, and the other is highly intelligent and describes all the advantages of the product to the idiot?
…the art of editing interviews and reality TV programs to create whatever impressions you want to create?
…that little jog you do when crossing the street in front of a car that's clearly entitled to go forward, just fast enough to send the driver the message that you're being considerate, but not fast enough to make any difference in the time it takes you to cross?
…kids who come from relatively poor families but who own all the latest toys and fashions?
…someone whom you know is famous, but you don't know what he or she is famous for? (Current example for me: Heidi Montag.)
…the decision you make that you know is wrong and will have no beneficial consequences, but you make it anyway?

Also I agree with Jayne's statement about Madonna and would like to add that Madonna is gradually turning into Sarah Jessica Parker.

Friday, April 18, 2008


If I were from a Spanish-speaking country I would want my name to be Juan Diego Sotomayor.


My LDS readers are bracing themselves already. For you Gentiles, the MormonAd was a small inspirational advertisement or poster that appeared in the church's official magazine, New Era, and usually got reposted to bulletin boards across the West.

The Photoshop artists of Something Awful got ahold of them.

The results are worth a look.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

She wrote some other stuff too

I was confused to discover that Jane Austen wrote something I actually enjoyed: her History of England. Maybe it's because she was writing on my turf instead of the romance turf, which is as alien to me as "Robocop" would have been to Austen.

"He was beheaded, of which he might with reason have been proud, had he known that such was the death of Mary Queen of Scotland; but as it was impossible that he should be conscious of what had never happened, it does not appear that he felt particularly delighted with the manner of it."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

And another thing…

I just saw a Carnival Cruise ad featuring a group of peppy young women. One of them announced in voiceover:

"We came to Venice to answer some questions… How could one man have given us both David and the Sistine Chapel?"

Of course, it turns out the most important question had to do with shoes because they are women and women like shoes more than art because they are women and shoes are the things that women like most. But if they were looking to get their Michelangelo-related question answered, they went to the wrong place. David is in Florence; the Sistine Chapel is in Rome.

I don't think it's too much to expect a cruise line to do about two minutes' worth of research rather than just treat Italy like some kind of goddamned mutant Epcot where the Pope, Don Corleone, and Roberto Benigni paddle their gondolas past the Leaning Tower while eating a-spicy meatballs-a. But this is the same cruise line which promotes itself with a song about heroin, so my expectations are somewhat lowered.

Try petitioning the Appellate Governor for clemency

From a brief in a case that's coming before the Idaho Court of Appeals:

Thus, the Respondent argued successfully that he had his rights violated under Art 1 § 17 of the Idaho Appellant Constitution…

Idaho does not, in fact, have a whole 'nother constitution devoted entirely to appeals from the regular constitution.

Further, it is not only not authorized by law, it explicitly violates the law as specifically delineated by the Idaho Appellant Legislature as explained above.

I'm not really sure how you would appeal from one legislature to another legislature.

The legislature drafted the law such that the right to refuse must be read to him [with him having the right to physically refuse, including the loss of priveleges that accompanies a subsequent refusal which is a result of the implied [legal] consent], unless there is an exigent circumstance [wherein public protection outweighed private constitutional protections such as in case of felonies, manslaughter/death to a third person and aggravated driving].

I admit to drawing brackets around particular phrases in UCC provisions to make sure I know what's going on, but the brackets in this sentence didn't help me at all.

So, the use of language isn't all that great. But does he have a good argument? Well, no. He's arguing that you can't say "no" to a police officer who wants to test you for alcohol, but you have a right to "physically refuse" the test. (Run away? Fight the officer? Throw a tantrum?) And then there's the part where he thinks that appellate courts shouldn't review the decisions of lower courts.

This would be pretty good by pro se standards, but this brief was written by a lawyer.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A question of terminology

It has occurred to me that the music that's currently promoted as "R&B" doesn't have a particularly strong rhythm, nor does it have much in the way of a blues component.

The alternative tag "urban contemporary" is somewhat more accurate, inasmuch as it generally is contemporary and "urban" is a well-known euphemism for "black."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

One of those days where your age just sneaks up on you

One of my high school choir teachers had a young daughter who followed us around a lot. Cute kid.

Said cute kid's first single, "It's Not Over Yet," is now available for sale on iTunes.

Said single is technically pretty good and kinda catchy. iTunes compares her to Raven-Symone, so if you like that sort of thing, it's the sort of thing you'll like. Personally, I think it's a waste of talent. C'mon, Ginny, I know you can play your own instruments and everything. No need to muck around in the crowded pop-princess market - I think she'd work better in another genre, where she wouldn't be facing off against a bunch of pretty young teenagers whose musical shortcomings can be disguised by good producers and good songwriters.

Create Your Own Aztec God!

has the head of a and the body of a . The patron of
, the priests of his/her temple ensured his/her blessings by practicing .

Monday, April 7, 2008

Reader survey!

A while back I heard a DJ hold a call-in session on the topic of "Which song title would make for the best pick-up line?" Responses ranged from "Let's Get Physical" to "You Are My Sunshine" (!)

Now, because I'm a schmaltzy kinda guy when it comes to dealing with women, I'd probably use "I Want To Know What Love Is." But your results may vary.

Readers - any nominations?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Film Liveblogging

I'm watching "Carrie" on A&E, and I will write about things I see. May contain spoilers, duh.

• Why does Carrie have a southern accent? The only other person in the film with a consistent accent is Carrie's ass-kicking gym teacher (Momma's accent comes and goes). Although if I had a gym teacher like her I'd probably try to emulate her too.
• Gaaaah. I bet when people on acid have religious experiences, that's the statue they see.
• Hey, it's a cameo by Mario!
• This psoriasis commercial is honking me off. "If you don't have psoriasis, you don't know what it's like to be embarassed in public." Oh, really?
• A movie like this needs some comic relief, and in this case it comes from the hilarious electronic music. Awesome Gym Teacher is really making these girls… well, I was going to say "sweat," but none of them are sweating.
• Good thing the card catalog here has a category for "plot device."
• And, at a half hour in, we have our first Travolta sighting.
• A car horn that plays a tune - the universal movie sign of a high school jackass.
• Travolta invents a catchphrase that would make a comedian's career (and kills a pig with a goddamn sledgehammer!)
• "Prom?" *lightning strike* (Also, since the lightning and thunder occur at exactly the same time, the lightning must be right in their back yard.)
• Okay, the film just shifted into another time dimension for about two lines of dialogue and I don't know if that's the TV cut or what.
• Hee hee. "Dirty pillows."
• The Alzheimer's Association just informed me that people can get the disease in their thirties. Goddamn, there's another thing for me to worry about.
• "Love Under The Stars" is a lousy prom theme. I prefer "Enchantment Under The Sea."
• Go ahead and dance, Carrie. You can't possibly look stupider than anyone else here.
• You can stop spinning the camera any time now. Any… time… now.
• I can't tell if William Katt is supposed to like Carrie by now or if he's just being the smoothest operator this side of Billy Dee Williams. But since Carrie can't tell this either, that's a good thing. (IMDB says Roger Ebert couldn't tell, either.)
• Queen Bitch shoulda pulled tha rope about a minute earlier.
SPINNING FACES AND VOICEOVERS! Was that ever not a cliche?
• Must… resist… temptation… to… quote… UHF…
• There's one for the Mythbusters. Water sprayed on a microphone + people in polyester = all-consuming fire?
• So what telekenetic power allows her to blow up cars?
• These lit candles everywhere just might be foreshadowing a fire.
• "Uh, Momma, did you just say 'for the last time, we'll pray?' That's not very encouraging."
• Well, whaddya know. That creepy statue had a purpose after all.
• Yes, Mr. DePalma. I noticed the symbolism with the statue. I was paying attention at the beginning of the film. You don't need to remind me.
• I was about to call out continuity for the sudden switch from day to night in the last scene, but it was all a dream, so it's OK.

I give it two and a half stars. Maybe it was shocking when it came out, but it's all cliche now.

Friday, April 4, 2008

What is it with me and pale chicks?

It's mildly comforting to know that no matter where I am, no matter what time it is, I can always find "Law & Order" on TV. It's the Budweiser of TV shows. (Did that make sense?)

Option A, of course, is an episode of the original series that features Jerry Orbach. But if there isn't an Orbach episode on, it's time to look for SVU. My favorite is the episode where Detective Stabler gets really mad.

One of the reasons to look for SVU is ADA Casey Novak, played by the seriously hot Diane Neal.

Diane's web site shows a lot of her modeling photos, which mostly succeed in making her look like every other model everywhere. But either she writes the site herself or she has a very convincing ghostwriter, which is always commendable in celebrity web sites.

Bonus points in her favor: has a dog named Father Ted, loves ancient history, has a very down-to-earth blog.

(Also, I invented a new game. Punch a female celebrity's name into Google Images and turn off Safe Search. How many pages of results before you see her boobs? Over/under is 3 - for Canadian actresses, 1.)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

A break from my regularly-scheduled all-encompassing boredom

1. No one fell for my lame attempt at an April Fool's joke this year (changing my Facebook status to "In a Relationship"). Maybe it's because no one takes me seriously anyway. But I did get the satisfaction of noticing the excitement of some of my classmates when they discovered a CNN report that Snoop Dogg was joining their faith.
"Did you see this article?" one of them asked me. "
Yeah, did you look at the date on that?"
"Oh, wait, was it April 1st? Oh, man..."
Apparently the idea of Snoop becoming Mormon was more plausible than me getting a girlfriend.

2. Oh boy, a joke based on a Venn diagram!

3. I've heard that there are some people who complain that medication for brain disorders make them feel like emotionless zombies. I want to know where to get some of this medicine because it would make my life a lot easier for the next few months.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Nothing new under the sun

Ever wanted to unlock your hidden potential? Ever want to use the powers of the universe to give fate a little nudge in your direction? Well, in 1928, Frank B. Robinson found out how to do it, and decided to share it with the world.

He founded Psychiana, Inc., a mail-order religion based right here in Moscow, Idaho. It consisted of a series of lessons in how to interact with God, and anyone, yes, anyone could become super-powerful and do such mysterious things as healing pig wounds. And unlike many religious hucksters, Robinson offered a money-back guarantee.

Today, the building that was built as Psychiana's world headquarters serves as Moscow City Hall.