Sexy, Happy Women Want You to Feel Good

Two_people_laughingBy Emanuele Spies from São Leopoldo, RS, Brasil (;funny!) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

What does this picture have to do with banking at Chase? Look at her laughing. Look at him, so handsome. They are so happy. What makes them so happy? Opening a 2-year flexible rate CD? What is it about me that when I look at one of these ads where the couple is genuinely laughing that I think they must be making fun of someone. Who laughs that hard and isn’t laughing at someone else’s expense I think. Kind of a sick thing to think I suppose. Maybe he farted. No no no, she farted and they are just laugh laugh laughing at the stink and the absurdity of this shared moment. Let’s try to think about something positive they could be laughing about? I got nothing. Maybe there’s a guy who just got struck below the belt with a hammer in front of them. Christ. A psychiatrist would do a number on me, man. With one of those Rorschach tests where you look at the blot of ink and say the first thing that comes to your mind. I always see Butterflies. Maybe I’m not all that crazy after all. The real reason they’re laughing is that someone is paying them. Paying them well I imagine. Paying them to indirectly peddle me something.

Maya Angelou said that “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Point is I guess that’s why these ads have pictures like that. They are trying to get you to emote or at least associate happiness with their product. Whenever I log on to my TD Finance car payment site to pay my bill there is one of these couples laughing in a car.  They never change the picture. The same picture and I always find it ludicrous. They’re not even selling me the car. I already bought the car, I am forking over my $290 monthly finance payment and I have these idiots laughing in my face. I guess this has more to do with website design than actual advertising when I think about it. I mean I know from doing this blog that people are more likely to read my drivel if I have a picture. I mean what does that say about us as discriminating consumers? But it is 100% true. I am so much more likely to read a blog post, visit a site, etc. if the look is right or makes me emote. The best advertisers in any form are the ones who get their voice heard. The same is true with book authors.

There is a trend with author’s successfully self-publishing books right now. What I’ve learned is that the most successful authors are not necessarily the writers of the best books. It has less to do with the actual content of their book and everything to do with their marketing. Getting it into the right hands, creating some publicity stunt in conjunction with the book that latches it onto a media story or a viral post or video. Does that mean the book sucks? No. What it does mean is that there are probably millions of other books out there that are just as good, if not better, that die on the publisher’s floor, or if self-published, on Amazon. They die not because they are inferior (necessarily) but because there were no advertising coattails to ride. What does that then say about our newspapers who rely solely on selling papers day after day? The consumers who are actually seeking out a good product might seek out the best written material, considering they would even know it if they found it, but as a news organization, you may soon realize that you sell more with less honorable tactics. As a New York Post, who puts half-naked women on your cover whenever you have the opportunity (hey it works on magazines and blogs and well pretty much anywhere else for that matter) or even just a titillating headline is effective (see above). As we all know, SEX sells but to the lowest common denominator of society? I guess to all of us in one way or another.

A couple of last things. That Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef” ad and the GEICO Gecco. The “Where’s the Beef” ad apparently put Wendy’s on the map. That GEICO Gecco is just everywhere. Is the Gecco supposed to be making me laugh? Or is he cute? Or is it just that he’s ubiquitous? We buy what’s familiar. Yeah I’ve heard of GEICO before, I’ll go with them. It works. I’ve spent a lifetime listening to ads consciously or subconsciously and they sure as hell work. I was 36 years old when I first needed to call upon the services of an exterminator. Who did I call? 864-6900 for Suburban Exterminating. Suburban Exterminating. There’s a jingle associated with that that I have to sing to conjure that number but it’s in there, in the recesses of my mind. It was an ad that played on the radio station that my bus driver in High School, over 20 years ago, listened to every morning. Goddamn right that advertising works.

In summation, I realize I am out of my league even questioning the process of advertisers, the smartest people on Earth, I imagine. Those sexy little bitches. Mmmmmmm.

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The Puzzle Over the River Kwai

Every time we build it, they take it right apart again.  My son is two years old.  He can do the little Melissa and Doug “puzzles” where you are basically just matching the wooden piece with the painted picture below it.  He’s very good at those.  Down at the library they have these big-pieced puzzles of various different drawings; a fire truck, Max and monster from Where the Wild Things are, an aquarium scene.  Occasionally we will give one of these a crack.  They are definitely above his skill level and right at, if not a little above mine.  We will start by dumping the 30 some odd pieces out on the floor (with other kids weaving in and out of the area) and begin.  He picks a piece and puts it down to start and I do the same.  OK, what do you got there buddy?  A hand? OK, let’s see if we can find some more of his fingers, OK this looks like a finger, maybe try it like this…  Good enough, we are plugging along.  I start describing to him my process of looking for the pieces with flat edges and working the left side of the puzzle.  He continues, with some guidance, to work the body of Max (in this case).

So far so good.  Now I am about 18 pieces in from the left, I have all of the monster’s right side of his body complete, looking for his left arm to bridge the connection with my son’s progress.  Buddy, help me look for the monster’s arm.  “Fire Truck” is the reply.  Oh No, I know where this is heading.  “Fire Truck.”  C’mon buddy we started this one, let’s finish and then we can work on the fire truck.  “Fire Truuuuuck.”  Okay, I am a grown man, I in no way NEED to finish this puzzle, in fact, I arguably wanted to start this puzzle in the first place but he was into it, so we did it.  I am now 20 pieces in with my son’s 4 connected pieces together we are about 8 pieces shy of completing this puzzle.  I in no way intend on giving up now.  I could claim that I was trying to teach him some sort of lesson about completing what you start but the fact of the matter is I came so far and I couldn’t give up now.  It’s that little part of you that no matter how many times you play Scrabble or Rummy, you still want to win, not really sure why you do as it is completely inconsequential  whether you win or lose, but you still are driven.  I had that drive.

Now it’s a full on Zoo in the library with kids running around grabbing puzzle pieces, different toys being fought over, my son is still remaining within arm’s reach but disinterested in my quest for wholeness.  I am sneaking a few more pieces onto the puzzle (The monster’s left arm!). Only about 4 away now.  “Nooooo, Fire Truck!”  Now he’s mad, his 2-year old patience is on empty.  “Nooooooooo!” as he starts dismantling our (my) creation.  The grown up in me rationalizes this in a split second, I am surprisingly satisfied with how far we’ve come and can nearly visualize where those last 4 pieces would go anyway.  OK buddy, help clean up, you hold the bag.  “Fire Truck puzzle!”  Of course buddy, let’s just finish cleaning up this one then we’ll get the Fire Truck.  He complies.

We bring the Max puzzle back to the rack and grab the Fire Truck puzzle and recommence on the floor.  Ok buddy, this looks like the front wheel, do you see another piece that looks like a wheel?  “Nooooo, Max puzzle!”  Futility ensues, back to the rack commander, there’s no one in charge over here anymore.

It takes a village to build a tent fort

Every once in awhile I’ll get the urge to try to do something different and creative with my son.  These usually end poorly or, at best, halfhearted approximations of what the goal was.  I can equate this to those pinterest pictures of these amazing things that look so easy to do and never are.

I’m not saying I had a bad childhood because I didn’t.  I had what I would describe as a pretty average childhood.  One thing that appears absent from my childhood are things that stereotypically one is to do with their child.  These are things like:

  • Nursery rhymes
  • Building forts
  • Making paper airplanes, paper hats, etc.
  • Playing hopscotch
  • Card games like Go Fish, Old Maid, etc.

I think you get the idea.  I don’t know how to do any of the above listed things (or didn’t know I should say).  I’ll take some of the blame for that as perhaps I was exposed to them and don’t remember or maybe no one actually remembers them and you just re-learn them when you become a parent (although my wife seems to remember every detail of all of those things along with the color shirt she wore to school on her 9th birthday).

So here’s what happens.  I find myself struggling through a WikiHow on how to make a paper hat as my son sits patiently waiting to be adorned.  I can’t imagine, and in fact know, this wasn’t how parents of old did things.  Maybe it’s a dying art, like one of those things that was just passed on from generation to generation almost subconsciously that just isn’t done anymore.  It’s like those team picking rhymes kids do like one potato, two potato, three potato, four or whatever that no one is ever really taught but everyone all kind of knows and accepts as a legitimate way of determining teams.  That goes back to that generational thing where the kids on the block are this kind of fluid group, some older, some younger where the traditions get passed on ad infinitum.

I guess that is kind of back to my original problem.  It appears in the modern age in America people are more segregated from each other, on the whole.  Everyone wants to move into their own houses, many of my friends wanted to move out of the state.  In the old days, people shared a big house or apartment together and some continuity of that unit had been continuing year after year and replaced by the younger generation.  That common knowledge of the family was ubiquitously passed on, almost unknowingly, (i.e., how to make a paper hat).

So there I was in my segregated little house just me and my boy on our own island and I with the determination of creating a cool tent fort for us.  I was tempted to go online and google, “how to build a tent fort” but NO, not this time.  How hard could this be?  I grabbed 5 king-sized sheets and got to work.  I looked around the living room for things to tie the sheets to.  They had to be at the correct height AND sturdy enough to hold the sheet.  Not many options.  OK, the coat rack, the door, those are 2 good anchor points.  But nothing else to tie the other side to.  The room’s too big.  Perhaps, the real problem is the predominance of the open floor plan in the modern age.

OK, I’ll attempt to tie another sheet to this first sheet to string them further across to anchor to the curtain rod.  Boy is now getting impatient and jumping on top of the sheet as I am trying to tie it.  I feel embarrassed to even reprimand him.  What am I going to say?  Get off that sheet, Daddy is trying to tie this here to make another weirdly positioned sheet that resembles more a privacy screen than a fort.  Whatever, I’ll work through it.  OK, this looks horrid.  This is unfun.  He can’t even hide under here, let alone me.  And is that what we’re supposed to be doing under here anyhow, hiding?  ABORT mission.  Let’s try a smaller space, his bedroom.

Untied all the sheets and scurried upstairs.  After another 20 minutes of frustrating and similar attempts at stringing theses sheets across my son’s bedroom we finally had some semblance of a fort (more like a canopy, but it’ll have to do.)  With a few door-like flaps in place, I was able to hide under a sheet and my son would peek-a-boo around and laugh.  Wait, am I supposed to hide from him, him me or us hide together?  Whatever, he’s laughing, he appears to be having fun.  Round and round he goes, laughing every time he sees me, he likes the novelty of it, a few funny faces thrown in for good measure, all is well in the world again.  It does beg the question though, what about next time?  I don’t want to disadvantage my son in being unable to make a solid tent fort when he is a father, wait again, is that my goal here?

Do I move to a commune to relearn the traditions of old?  Do I find a Dad board and post for public opinion?  Do I talk to Dad friend’s of mine?  Likely none of these.  Likely, I will google it and try again with that advice.  My WikiHow instructed paper hat turned out pretty darn good, after all.

Maple syrup in the 80’s

I’ll say it again. We’ve been lied to. I have this idea of the 1980’s as a low point in consumer history. I was born in 1978 and my feelings here are based on no research other than the way I view it. In the ’80’s people weren’t overly concerned with health in the way they are now. Things like organic foods and environmentalism were at best starting to form. I remember getting our first recycling bin in the 90’s and it was scary. We’re going to have to do what?

Growing up we always used Aunt Jemima pancake syrup on anything “requiring” syrup.  My first exposure to ‘real’ maple syrup was probably when I was 15 eating at a country kitchen in upstate NY where they wouldn’t be caught dead serving Jemima. I was immediately repulsed by it and have carried that impression into adulthood. It wasn’t until I had a child and I started to think about the crap I was putting into his body that I fielded a change.

Real Maple Syrup. Ingredients: 100% Real Maple Syrup.

Aunt Jemima Butter Lite Syrup (the one my wife and I were using while doing Weight Watchers and newly married).  Ingredients:  High Fructose Corn Syrup, Water, Cellulose Gum, Salt, Natural And Artificial Flavor, Caramel Color, Sorbic Acid And Sodium Benzoate (Preservatives), Sodium Hexametaphosphate.

I mean, yes, I could go on a whole discourse here about unnatural vs. natural foods but the main point is that in the 80’s people didn’t question things like this.  Real Maple Syrup was (and still is) expensive, Jemima is cheap and it kind of tastes like maple syrup.  I was eating “maple syrup” until I was 15 without ever tasting any ‘actual’ maple syrup.  The main thing absent in the Aunt Jemima Ingredient list, you guessed it, Maple blankin’ Syrup.

I mean my family was certainly no beacon of health and I am sure many people, even in the 80’s, were probably eating real maple syrup, but me and the people I knew weren’t.  You’d probably be a weirdo then by doing so, much like you’d be a weirdo for breastfeeding your child then (which my parents still view as strange).  These days, you have to pay attention around every corner to avoid the lies of the past.  The supermarket is just one example of where we are and have been lied to by people that don’t care about us and do care about making money at the cost of poisoning us.  So much so, I was proselytized into believing I actually liked that toxic viscosity soaking my pancakes (god knows what was in the pancakes themselves that I was eating).

My son and I made some pancakes this morning and happily ate them with 100% Real Maple Syrup.  I have begun to love the taste of the Real stuff and my son will hopefully have no reference point for Aunt Jemima’s hellcraft and be repulsed by it if ever presented to him.

Reinventing myself

I have reinvented myself thousands of times.  My journal has just become a graveyard of lists of ways to live tomorrow.  A usual list:

-Exercise first thing in morning

-Start Weight Watchers

-No alcohol

-No TV

-Meditate

-Read

You get the idea.  It’s such a half-assed idea of how to live life.  Every time I write one of these lists, I envision myself doing these things and feel better.  Then tomorrow comes.  Tomorrow.  That’s the problem with these lists, it’s always what I will do tomorrow.  Ok, I’m just going to watch the rest of the shows on my DVR then I’ll stop watching TV, tomorrow.  Well…I’m going to be starting weight watchers tomorrow so I might as well get that tub of Ben & Jerry’s tonight.  I have had more death row equivalent meals than all of the combined history of Alcatraz.

If I was truly committed to any of these ideas, I would do one right now.  Like right now, not sit here and do the easiest thing of all which is write the list.

 

 

After a brief delay

Madtown.  Waiting on hold for a corporate representative has got to be one of the circles of hell.  This particular hold dialogue was designed to make you crazy.  DESIGNED that way.  It must be.  Here’s why:

-Every time you call, you wait at least 45 minutes.  At least.  Not an exaggeration.  This has to be said first in order to keep in mind and in context with the below reasons.

-The hold dialogue alternates between music and announcements that all end abruptly, are followed by a pause, and then go to the next music or announcement.  They are trying to make you think that someone is picking up when they aren’t, just to keep you on your toes and your blood pressure rising.  Sadistic.

-The announcements.  The most common is, “We know your time is valuable and we are working hard to give you the same care we give all of our callers.”  This is infuriating for a number of reasons.  I assure you, they do not value my time.  No one that makes you wait over 45 minutes for anything values your time, that goes without saying.  Then my mind just goes to all the ancillary reasons this announcement exists, like some corporate research focus study group that indicated that when people feel they are being valued they are less likely to complain or some nonsense like that.  And then, the obvious, that not enough staff work there.  Yes, they give attention to every caller, great, but their staffing is not appropriate, clearly, and why am I sitting here trying to analyze the staffing procedures at this company, just answer my call!

-The next announcement:  Again, “Due to the attention we give each caller, you may experience a brief delay.”  BRIEF???!!!  When does it stop being a brief delay?  I’ll extend a generous 15 minutes as the BRIEF window.  Now every time this announcement airs in the 15-minute to 45-minute+ window is just like getting slowly kicked.  Kick, kick, kick, kick.

-Another announcement:  “We can’t wait to serve you.”  I mean seriously?  Is anyone anywhere expected to believe this?  Regardless of what your focus group said and then , of course, there is the last reason, coupled with this.

-The representative is invariably rude and unhelpful and whatever answer given generally requires a follow-up where you will need to call this number again, and again, and again, and again.  Purgatory.

Life’s choices

My wife stepped in dog poop today.  She asked me if I would rather step in dog poop or human poop.  Restraining myself from asking what kind of question that is, I decided to answer but realized I had to come up with a rationale.  Here goes:  Stepping in dog poop is part of the human experience.  Most of us, at some point, have likely stepped in dog poop and had to deal with it.  I would be hard-pressed to come up with a scenario where I would even have the opportunity to step in human poop.  I’m sure there are others, but the only scenarios I could think of were stepping in poop left by a vagrant on the street or somebody that was sick that just had to go.  In both of those scenarios the poop is not run-of-the-mill poop, as likely a dog’s would be, but sick person poop (assuming the vagrant is in one way or the other sick) which is exceedingly more disgusting than non-sick poop.  My answer in short:  I would rather step in dog poop.

Bear, not Goose

I would rather fight a bear over a goose.  It seems unlikely but if given the choice, I truly believe I would go bear.  A goose is completely irrational and unpredictable.  If you have encountered an angry goose, you may agree.  They are erratic and give out this velociraptor hiss when threatened.  When I say, when threatened, I mean if you look at it in the eye from 300 yards away or closer.  I mean, yes, a bear is an extreme other choice, but I, at least feel I could fight it in a logical way, the bear would circle me and we’d posture at each other until one of us (the bear) decided to make it’s initial attack.  A goose would likely gun for my nuts, spit them out, then sever its own neck, because a goose is stinkin crazy.

A day at the beach is no day at the beach

Taking a 22 month old to the beach by yourself is no small feat.

Supplies:

-Diaper Bag

-Umbrella

-Daddy Chair, Baby Chair

-Sand Toys

-Clothes Bag

-Lunch, Snacks, Bottle, Water, etc.

-Baby

I am about 6’4”, bearded and fat.  No one expects me to be lugging a baby around let alone doing something challenging with said baby, but hey, he likes it and I marginally enjoy it myself.  People just look at us and laugh right in my face.  It’s okay, I’m used to it.  It also helps that I tend never to look anybody in the eye.  The first time I did it, it took me two trips to the car and back.  At the end of packing up, 4 separate groups of beachgoers applauded.  How about helping if you’re watching that long?  I wouldn’t have accepted help anyway in earnest, just not in my personality.