Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category



16
Mar
07

The Postman Always Bleeps Twice

    R2D2
Doot doot. Beep beep.
[allposters.com]

How charmed am I that the U.S. Post Office is dressing up hundreds of public mailboxes across the country as R2D2?

Of course it’s all part of some bizarre marketing scheme tied to the release of a new stamp. But I’m willing to forgive that, because it’s just so fun. Despite all that is wrong about the most recent three movies of the series, I’m very happy to see that there’s life in the old droid yet.

03
Mar
07

Packaging Majors of the World, Unite!

    Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
These red-headed stepchildren of the Hershey family are not festooned in playful holiday colors.

Rite Aid is trying very hard to be a toy store or a carnival side show. It’s Eastertime apparently. I might not have known but for the enormous duckies and bunnies hanging in the doorway, threatening to take my head off the moment I pass through the automatic doors. For the entirety of January and February, we had oversized frogs holding fluffy hearts that read: I LOVE YOU! In December, we got “Plush Bear Figurines” dressed as toy soldiers, and statues of bears leaning on snowshovels or something.

When I walk in with freshly sharpened darts looking for a wall of balloons to pop, hoping I can win one of those anthropomorphic monstrosities, all I get is a dirty, yet slightly worried, look from the manager.

I get the Camel Lights and leave quietly.

These days, Rite Aid is selling the hell out of its Easter candy. Which is to say it’s selling the hell out of the same candy it was selling the hell out of for Valentine’s Day. But in different wrappers. The chocolate’s been done over in pastels, distasteful even at the best of times, instead of the reds and whites and purples of the festival of love. I think it’s hilarious that the same stuff on super-discount-clearance, everything-must-go sale last week is now in another package and going for the regular price.

What is the difference, I ask, between a miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in a red foil and one in a robin’s egg blue foil? Packaging is an exact science — to be sure. And what a bizarre science it is. My alma mater, Michigan State University — to which I still give money as a sappy, gullible alumnus — had one of the premier packaging major programs in the country. Apparently. Someone would introduce himself to me in front of a keg as a packaging major, and after I sized him up as someone I would or would not like to sleep with (usually not), I would sort of admire him as one of those people who figured out how to fit an IKEA kitchen table into a box the size of an index card. But now I know he’s really just spending his days flipping through a palette of colored swatches and dressing confections. He and his peers could be a Bravo reality show.

Or maybe he’s making a mint as an investment banker, like everyone else (but me), regardless of his major.

Whatever. Personally, I’m holding out for the yellow and orange and brown ones that come out in October. Far superior.

(You know, I saw a Fear Factor-themed Easter basket today. What… does it contain raw bull testicles that we are Triple Dog Dared to eat? Instead of Easter grass, is the basket filled with mealworms or maggots or nightcrawlers? Bravo. What better way is there to celebrate the Resurrection of our Savior?)

Better than the Reese’s are the Hershey’s Miniatures. Well, except for Krackel. Krackel sucks. Everyone knows it. (So watch out for the pink ones.) When you were selling candy bars to pay for your seventh grade trip to Chicago or Washington, D.C., or … oh, I don’t know … Stratford, Ontario, no one ever bought the chocolate with crisped rice. It was all about the Caramello knock-offs or the Hershey’s with Almond.

Krackel. Feh! Fie upon it! I just eat the Special Darks and the Mr. Goodbars. Nothing else even matters. Not even the ridiculous, waxy, stomach-turning regular Hershey bars.

Only in America could we make something out of chocolate that no one likes.

21
Feb
07

My Kingdom for a Shredder

Thumbing through the— excuse me, attempting to thumb through The New Yorker or The Economist, my best attempts at quietly turning pages are often thwarted by a vile, vicious advertising technique: heavy paper stock.

Running my thumbnail along the edges of the pages to find my place doesn’t work anymore. I hit a heavy-stock ad and stumble, and 10, 15, who knows how many pages skip on past. I have to open the magazine at ad’s point of insertion. Then I rip out the offensive page in one swift stroke, crinkle it up and stuff it in my bag or pocket so I can drop it into a trash can (or burn it) later. Then I count over one by one to find my place.

Of course this is the point. They want the magazine to open to these pages. If the thing should drop, they want it naturally (or unnaturally) to fall open to their special place.

Subscription cards used to be the worst of it. Opening up a magazine, several would come flying out in all directions. They still do.

Surprise! Remember me? Subscribe to me!

I am often amused when people pick them up and hand them to me — as if I want the thing, as if it isn’t a blessing to be momentarily rid of it. But I have to take it, don’t I? Or face the shame of being a litterbug.

Sometimes I go through a magazine first thing and rip out all the crap and shake it upside down until the cards fall out. I curl the volume in my hands, undulating it this way and that, relishing its supple pliability. I marvel at the ability to open it to any page of my choosing at will. Then I read, uninterrupted, as I speed through New York City’s tunnels.

Do they think this insistence on presenting itself will embed the ad further into my subconscious? I hardly see how. The only reaction I seem to have is to silently but vehemently curse the advertiser and throw away the ad as soon as I can. A pox on you, Microsoft! Oh, no. Maybe they are sticking!

20
Feb
07

Death and … (Well, You Know…)

Three things are inevitable in this world. In order of difficulty: Death, taxes and the propensity for party guests to stain one’s rugs. (This, among other reasons, is why white carpet is a cardinal sin.)

Death… well, let’s not get into that right now.

And I am coping rather well, I think, with the recent news that I owe thousands of dollars to the governments of the United States and the state of New York. That’s the big news in my life, at present. I just did my taxes last night and accidentally opened an artery. Those paper cuts can be a bitch.

At this rate I’ll be serving government cheese and generic brand soda crackers at the Oscar Night gathering we’re planning for Sunday. It’s not a party, I hasten to clarify. It’s a very small gathering.

At an Easter party we threw last year — bloody marys and mimosas; boiled eggs, kielbasa and saurkraut — a few of our thirstier guests wreaked unintentional (i.e., drunken) havoc on our floors, spilling red wine or cranberry juice (or both — who brought the wine anyway?) on literally every rug in our apartment. The colors in our rugs run from beige to gold, gray to brown. Mostly neutral tones, except for a blue, white and gray rug in the bedroom. You don’t exactly need a map to hit the lighter, easy-to-stain areas, but our guests were a consistent lucky shot.

A tempest in my head roiled and sent electricity coursing up my spine every time I saw someone teetering this way and that, red wine or a strong cape cod sloshing dangerously close to the edge of his or her plastic cup.

I had been told that cold water and salt will usually lift the color out of a wine stain. So I got all Martha Stewart and managed get the stains out. I kept calm and maintained a good host’s smile — and, to a degree, conversation — while I flitted from spot to spot all night, liberally sprinkling Morton’s. (When it rains, it does indeed pour.) The rugs remained largely unspoiled, and I felt spiritually and emotionally purged. It was a triumph.

After that trauma, however, I think we’ll have white wine this time on Sunday. And white cranberry juice. (But I’ll have my spot remover, my yellow rubber gloves and a salt shaker at the ready, stashed behind the couch, anyway — just in case!)




the untallied hours

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