Tuesday, February 24, 2009

2112 Reasons Why Rush Sucks

Today, I figured I'd poke a little fun at some of the most insanely zealous rock fans out there. Man, do Rush fans love their Toronto Trio. NEIL PERT RULES!!!!! The thing is, the rest of the world who isn't a die hard Rush fan, is unable to tolerate them for much more than a few seconds. There is very little middle ground with these guys.

Actually, the title of this post is misleading. I could only come up with 1,742 why our mulletted Canadian friends are crap. But really, there is only one that matters. Two words: Tom Sawyer.

That synth / techno / disco opening shakes my bones like a dentist drill. Not a fan.

I would also like to mention that I can't stand Giddy Lee's (or however the hell you spell it) voice. But the fact is, I do love the music of Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Smashing Pumpkins all of which feature unconventional vocals. Any fan of Tom Waits can't rip Gitty's singing too badly.

Now, if you happen to be of the ilk that loves this overproduced, overrated staple of bland Classic Rock radio (along with Styx, Foreigner, Kansas and the like), relax. No reason to get all butt hurt. There's tons of music that I love, that I'm sure you hate. If your passion for the drumming of Neil Pert has led to multiple fist fights after a few too many Labatt Blues, I respect that. Whatever blows your hair back. Just know that the band you love sucks.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Shameless, Smug, Self Congratulatory Slop

Okay, this is a little bit of bait and switch. I'm actually not talking about the Oscars. Although that title certainly does apply to Spicoli. No, the public self indulgence I plan to highlight today is my own, in this particular post.

It turns out my latest diatribe about how Geico ads suck was my 100th blog entry since I started doing this crap some six months ago. If I had realized it was number one hundred, I would have commemorated the occasion with a better post. Se La Vie.

I know it's not a very impressive accomplishment. But I'm taking a cue from every great sitcom that has been hard up for material and I'm slapping together a clip show. Considering we were treated to the Oscars last night, I figured another masturbatorial celebration in which a self indulgent creative entity basks in the underwhelming glory of their own creation seemed appropriate. Tis the season to kiss your own ass. But I guarantee this will be more enjoyable than Benjamin Button.

A few of my favorite posts to date:

- An Open Letter to Spain's Basketball Team
. This is especially relevant with the NBA season rolling at full speed. My hatred of Pau Gasol only grows and grows.

- Ladies, This Needs To End. This one has cost me. I have alienated a fair amount of girls with my candor on stupid looking boots. This is something that a rapidly aging, single fella like myself cannot really afford to do. But I figure I alienate them anyway, at least this time it's for a good reason. (By the way, I don't know why but for some reason the font is really screwed up in some of these older posts. Blogger can really be a pain in the balls.)

- Sometimes It's Really Hard Being a BYU Fan. I hesitate to mention this only because it dredges up the humiliating, miserable disaster that was last year's College Football season. When you consider Utah's unbelievable run, all I can do is stew in my own shameful jealousy. It should have been my team that punched Alabama and the BCS in the face. But it wasn't. Damn it. Now I'm all depressed.

- The Twilight Post. First I rip on Ugg Boots and then I tear down Twilight. It's a shock that I sleep alone every night. I think I was pretty nice in this one actually. I made fun of the asinine storyline but I also acknowledged a predisposition to indulge in cultural mediocrity myself. So I saw no reason to mock the ladies that love this crap. Also, just about every girl I've talked to about Twilight is happy to admit that it isn't good on any level and that they are a little embarrassed at how much it resonates with them.

I actually bought the first book and started reading it. I read it on the cruise my family went on over the Holidays. As is the custom of most Carnival customers, I sat on a deck chair with the other pasty, fat people and read a horrible, horrible book. Now, I'm no literature snob. In fact, I'm barely literate but I know terrible writing when I see it. I guess it's a pretty big warning sign when the author doesn't even know how to spell her own name.

I really was embarrassed to be seen reading it, so I tore the cover off it to hide my shame. I got about a hundred pages into it. After the author referenced Edward's "cold and perfect face" for the three hundredth time, I gave up. There is little use in reading a book you hate, just to be ironic.

-Five Girly Songs I Like. I did a total of ten posts where I highlighted five songs from bands that I love. They never really got a very big reaction. I guess I needed to live out my "journalist for Rolling Stone"fantasy. Since I've done the last one (I think it was Jimi), the website I used to embed the songs has ceased to work, so those posts are now pretty much broken.

The fact is, very few people give a crap about why it is that I love the music that I love. It's okay. My feelings aren't that hurt. It's a little arrogant to assume that people would care. But this particular post had a different angle. It was based on guilty pleasures and self deprecation instead of over eager, gushing snobbery. I'm still going to do some music based entries, but they won't be ones like "5 Songs by The Who" (as great as they are). Instead random things like "5 Best Whistle Solos" or "5 Horrible Covers of Great Songs". I'm looking at you Puff Daddy.

My most popular post:

In N Out is Incredibly Average. If I had it to over again, I would have entitled that entry "Those are good burgers, Walter. - Shut the f*ck up, Donnie." Opportunity lost. This popularity (in both comments and hits) surprised me, since I didn't think it was that amazing. Who knew hamburgers were such a passionate issue?

One post I thought was pretty darn good and nobody seemed to give a crap about:

Frank Caliendo Sucks. I actually know a couple of people that like his comedy, so I expected a little bit of backlash but I got nothing (no comments, low hits). This actually has a pretty funny story about it.

In November, my cousin's wife had a baby. I went to the hospital to visit them and my cousin told me about this funny little occurrence. Over the past couple of years, he has told several of his friends and his wife's friends the cat story. That damn story has really stuck to me. I'm not complaining. If I didn't enjoy telling it, I wouldn't recite verbatim over and over. So when my cousin found out that I had posted it, he blasted an email with my blog link to many of these people who had heard the story from him.

The entry that happened to be right above the Cat Story was another post entitled "Frank Caliendo Still Sucks." in which I revisit my gripe with Fatty MaGoo and his unfunny impressions. Well it turns out that my cousin's wife is best friends with a girl named Michelle. Michelle's last name? Caliendo. Yeah, she's married to Frank Caliendo. And my cousin innocently sent her an email with the link to my crappy blog with an article on the top of the page about how some schlub thinks that her nationally recognizable husband is a hack.

Folks, it's a good chance Frank has read all about how I think he sucks.

On thing I've learned over the months:

I don't need to hyperlink every friggin' reference I bring up.
Wow! I sure did like the hyperlink tool in the early days. For some reason, I thought it added a little depth but it was really just irritating. Take this entry about how the X games suck. There are fifteen links in the first two paragraphs. What the hell? The thing is, people stop clicking them after like the third one. And it's kind of a pain in the ass to find all the pictures. I mean, in the opening sentence I mention the x games and include a link to the logo. Pointless. Also, most of the links are dead within a few days anyway. I like to think I have learned my lesson. The only links I have now are worth clicking on.

Well that's it. This post has effectively been the DVD commentary on a movie that wasn't that good to begin with. Of course at my current rate of posting, it will take about nine years until I write another hundred posts. So odds are good we won't have to do another one of these retrospective look backs for quite a while. Enjoy.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Geico Needs to Burn in Hell

And not for the horrible Caveman ads. They've been beaten into the ground and haven't been close to funny in three years. But they aren't as bad as their new ones.

Geico has a new ad campaign that features a stack of money with googly eyes meant to represent the money you should be saving with their services. They then play Rockwell's "Somebody's Watching Me". It's just awful. I mean it is insultingly awful. Look, I understand that advertising pays for the free TV I watch on a daily basis. But it seems to me that if I was shelling out millions of dollars on advertising that I would want to avoid pissing off my potential customers.

Listen Geico, in addition to this asinine commercial, you also have the appalling caveman crap and the talking lizard. You can't have three different, unassociated ad campaigns going at the same time, especially when two of those three are terrible! You can't! It's against the rules. I will grant you that the talking lizard is kind of cute. Throw an English on any kind of animated, talking animal and you've got me hooked. Especially a monkey. Nothing is more entertaining than an English accented talking monkey. But this only serves to illustrate just how low my standard of entertainment is. Talking monkey. That's all you need to amuse me. But you fail to meet even this minimal threshold with your crappy caveman bullshit and the googly eyed wad of cash. Damn it!

The thing that irritates me about this is the pure laziness of it all. Was there really a marketing meeting in the corporate offices at Geico when some black framed glasses wearing, soul patch having, tight sweater wearing advertising douchebag revealed the long anticipated campaign of googly eyed money and the company president shouted, "Brilliant!"? I some how doubt that ever happened. I would imagine any sensible person in this imaginary meeting would have asked, "Why would the money follow them around and look at them? If the money has eyes, wouldn't it need feet as well? Really, what is the point of this crap? Is this the best you could come up with? Honestly it's more confusing and irritating than clever and entertaining. How much are we paying you to throw this garbage together?"

But the answer to any of these concerns is the following: "It doesn't matter. As long as we buy up tons of ad space and have something that is memorable, than we get our name out there and that's all that matters." And therein lies the problem. Their objective isn't to entertain their audience. It is to annoy them. They are actively trying to piss me off. I may hate the commercial, but at least I remembered it. And my ranting and raving only plays into their game, which only pisses me off more.

But you know what Geico? Go to hell. Go to hell for taking the cheap way out. Go to hell for insulting and antagonizing me. You want to antagonize me? Antagonize me, mother f*cker! Get in the ring mother f*cker and I'll kick your bitchy little ass. PUNK! (GNR Rules.) Go to hell for manipulating me into hating you just so I would recognize your brand. And most of all, go to hell for failing to entertain me. There is a reason I tune in to NBA basketball, Lost, 24 and other shows yous sponsor and it isn't to consider which auto insurance to buy. So if you want there to be a part of my brain that thinks fondly of your service when I do make that decision, you should try your best to please me during your very expensive prime time exposure. Dance, monkey! Dance!

Also, I have heard from many people that your coverage totally sucks. So you can go to hell for that too.

Update: I just thought of another separate ad campaign they have out. The ones where the celebrities explain customer's experiences with crappy Geico. These are actually pretty funny. Which makes the googly eyed money stack that much more inexcusable. Damn it Geico, you know how to entertain me, but you defiantly refuse to. Seriously, go to hell.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

It Slices, It Dices, It Lies to You Face!

A few days ago I was rifling through some old posts on the blog and came across a new comment on a previous entry. A few months ago I shared an amusing self deprecating anecdote that featured my own failure and humiliation. It seems to be somewhat of a theme. You can read the whole thing here. In short, I got a job at Costco and tried to pick up on a chick while working there and I, or rather the contents of my cart, scared her away for good. No hard feelings. It really was funny.

While recounting the events that lead up to me getting a job at Costco that summer, I threw in a random jab at Vector Marketing and their CutCo Knife bullshit. Here is the extent of my CutCo rip:

I was home from college for the summer and I needed a job. Always a sucky spot to be in. It’s hard enough to get a job, much less one that will only last for three months. I have sat through my share of scams being advertised in the want ads as “12 dollars an hour! No commission! No door to door sales!” You know what, Vector Marketing? You can take your CutCo Knifes and blow it out your lying ass.

Someone I don’t know, calling herself Jill took it upon herself to stand up for Vector Marketing by posting the following comment two months after the original post:

Pretty funny post. Anyway, Vector Marketing would have been a way better choice, especially because you had taken some/a marketing classes. On one hand you would not have bumped into Nicole, on the other, she wouldn't think you were a freak.

Now it was a complimentary comment that was in no way mean spirited. Although that link she sent is pretty amusing. I think it’s a little strange that Vector has people trolling the internet looking for critical comments on crappy blogs to defend their good name. Apparently there is a lot of anti Vector commentary, since they have gone through the trouble to publish that fancy petition Jill provided. By the way, nothing adds to your professional credibility like a petition whose opening sentence is “Vector Marketing is an awesome company!” That sounds like a High School pep rally, not a respectable response to criticism.

The civil tone of her comment was refreshing since anonymous blog comments can get pretty nasty. I recognize that by publishing my thoughts on the interweb, I am inviting people to disagree with me. If you are going to voluntarily publish details of your life, you need to have some reasonably thick skin. I’m looking at you Paige. (Another story for another day.) So I don’t want to launch a spiteful retort to Jill’s comment because I like Jill and thinks she's a nice person. But I am going to relay my experience that led to my skeptical attitude toward our friends at Vector. Of course this experience happened several years ago, so I can't vouch a hundred percent for authenticity of the details. But any reader of this blog knows to take anything I say with a grain of salt. (An expression, I've never understood.)

Picture it. Provo, 2001. (I've been watching a lot of Golden Girls recently) I had just got out of a Winter Semester at BYU. Provo is a terrible place to try and find any kind of summer work. There is a huge student population and they're all looking for some kind of income and hopefully something they can put on a resume. There are several companies that recognize this ambition (desperation) and they lure gullible (greedy) students into leveraging (exploiting) their networking skills (Missionary experience) into aggressively selling some kind of product that no one really wants.

Here’s the part where I could go off now on a screaming, mouth foaming diatribe about pest control and security systems sales jobs that are the moral equivalent of Catholic Church’s selling of indulgences hundreds of years ago. Sure it’s indefensibly wrong, but you can make a lot of money. My buddy Spencer loves to rant about this, so I’ll just link you to a few blog entries where he takes them to task much better than I could. Here’s one. Here’s another. Seriously, they are worth reading. Especially the second one.

So back to summer of '01. I started combing the want ads for summer work, ever aware of the exploitative nature of my job environment. I came across an ad that said something along these lines, “Vector Marketing: Twelve dollars an hour, no commission, no door to door sales.” Most hourly jobs were running between seven and eight dollars an hour. This seemed like a good lead however the ad said absolutely nothing about what it is I would be doing. Not even a two word description. This was a red flag. They weren’t saving money on their ad space. No, this was definitely a company that had something to hide. But it was worth checking out. So I called them up, figuring a five minute conversation would get the complete story.

“Hi, I was calling about your ad in the paper.”

“Great, it so happens that we are having an ‘Opportunity Meeting’ today at 2:00. (What luck!) Bring a notepad and our regional supervisor (or whatever bullshit title they made up) will give you the information you need.”

“I just have a few ques- "

“Our regional supervisor will answer any questions.”

“Could you just tell me what the job entails?”

“Come on in and we’ll tell you everything you need to know.”

“Couldn’t you just spend thirty seconds over the phone and give me a two sentence answer to that simple question?”

“It really is a lot easier if you just attend our opportunity meeting, today at 2:00.”

“But it does pay twelve dollars an hour.”


“No door to door sales, no commission?”


“Are there sales involved?”

“Again sir, it would be easier to let the opportunity meeting cover all your questions.”

It really was kind of a fun game. Trying to trick the nice girl who answers the phone (it could have been Jill) into telling you the forbidden information of what the hell this mystery job entails. It was summer, I was unemployed and bored so I took the bait. My buddy Gregg and I went to their crappy meeting and oh man, it was entertaining.

This incredible opportunity of a lifetime meeting was being held in an empty office with stained carpets next to a bowling alley. There was a beat up white board and some cheap folding chairs arranged in a semi circle. These weren’t even the nice folding chairs you borrow from the ward. They were the thin ones painted brown with one short leg making it rock back and forth. The kind that are always incredibly cold to sit on and made an amazing amount of noise when you folded them up. There were about twenty or so people (marks) sitting on said chairs who were also drawn by the promise of a relatively high wage. Some were wearing what were clearly their Mission suits, some were sporting the “I’m an Accounting Major boner that hangs out at the TannerBuilding all day” business casual look of a blue dress shirt and no tie. Gregg and I strolled in twenty minutes late wearing shorts and t shirts.

The head douche, who I imagine was the mythic regional supervisor (we missed his introduction which I’m sure included a detailed resume) was prattling on about some Steven Covey horse shit and pumping up the gullible (again, read greedy) among us into some fanciful dreams of easy money.

The head douche was a pretty interesting guy. He wasn’t much older than me, but he struck me as the kind of guy that really really wanted to an AP on his Mission. The kind of guy who carried around a brief case at Zone Conference and was completely shameless and unapologetic about his ass kissing and back stabbing. He’s the guy that would get off by busting you down for singing a Led Zeppelin song while trackting and would talk shit about you to the Mission President. The kind of guy who realized at about 20 months in that he never will be AP and then spent the rest of his time sleeping in, going to movies, ripping the actual AP’s and jacking off. And this particular douche was wearing a double breasted suit that he kept buttoned up the whole time. His smile was relentless and desperate. Genuine enthusiasm cannot come from someone who is fundamentally phony. Sorry pal, you could be offering me the job of a lifetime, but you have no credibility with me.

We sat there for some time waiting to have our simple question answered, only to be met with more warmed over Tony Robbins “90% of success is just showing up” kind of bullcrap. It was interesting to watch the crowd. The more intelligent among us saw this for the bait and switch that it was. But there were a few who were eating it up. They were eagerly answering questions and sharing past successes (almost always having to do with their Missions), trying very hard to impress the head douche. And how do you impress a douche? You out douche him.

After an hour, we still had not heard one word as to what the hell this job entailed. We heard all about Vector’s financial success. Strange that such amazing success translates into holding your recruitment meetings in an empty, bowling alley adjacent building with some pretty obvious water leakage. We heard all about the financial success that comes from setting ambitious goals. We heard all about a few case studies of college students that started at Vector and were now titans of industry and heads of state all over the world. But my original question of what the hell do we actually do to earn twelve dollars an hour had yet to be addressed. It was then that the head douche asked this question: “Who knows what the word ‘ergonomic’ means?”

One of the more vocal marks looking to impress the head douche shot his hand up, so excited that he knew the answer: “It means something that was designed to synergize with the human body.”

Impressive the way he was able to both use a Covey approved buzz word and make the answer sound creepier than it needed to. The head douche was pleased. He then opened a flat box on the stained folding table in front of him to reveal a complete set of CutCo brand knives.

“The ergonomic design of CutCo brand knife handles is its premier feature. This is Vector Marketing’s competitive advantage over its competition.”

I remember thinking, “Is he really going to sell us knives? Oh my crap! He’s really going to do it.”

He then launched into a steak knife infomercial with all the subtly and grace of a horny high school kid trying to cop a feel. It was forced and awkward. He actually cut a soda can and then followed that demonstration of brute strength up by slicing a tomato razor thin. Dude, at least be original. You should try to avoid being a living, breathing parody of yourself. What was he expecting our reaction to be?

“Holy crap! He cut a penny in half with those scissors! And they’re ergonomic?! I must own them! And I must sell them to everyone I know! It will be the easiest thing ever! There’s no way on earth I would end up alienating every friendship I have by trying to obligate every one I know into buying something they don’t really want. No, it will be a natural experience. One that will in no way portray me as an oily charlatan when I pressure my Aunt and Uncle to replace something they already have five of at our next family reunion. It can’t miss! Good thing I took the initiative and showed up at this fantastic opportunity meeting! 90% of my success is already achieved!”

After the entire knife shpeel, he then finally got around to describing the career opportunity that lay before us. We, as Vector Marketing reps, would be responsible for setting up sales presentations in people’s homes. Would we keep track of our hours on a time sheet and be compensated at twelve dollars an hour for doing so? No. We would be paid twelve dollars for every sales presentation, which usually take about an hour. Slightly different than twelve dollars an hour. Of course, that is after our initial deposit of a couple hundred dollars for our set of display knives. We then are paid a commission on any sales that are closed.

“But the newspaper ad said ‘No Commission.’” I said to the head douche.

“But you are paid that twelve dollars as a base and any added sales is gravy!”

“But there is no flat rate of work. We are paid only on the number of presentations not the amount of total activity. That’s a commission.”

“Not technically.”

And how are we to find people to present our wares to, you ask?

“How many of you have family and friends that would be interested in this incredible product? I know the girls at my sister’s Relief Society Enrichment night would love an opportunity to see what a quality set of cutlery is capable of. And if you don’t have any family in the area, door to door sales are amazingly effective. And hey, we’ve all knocked doors before on the 'Mish'. It’s not that bad.”

“Didn’t the ad specifically say, ‘No door to door sales’?”

“Well, door to door sales are not required but they can provide some fantastic opportunities. But you know what? Let’s all start out by writing down five people that you know that would be interested in this presentation right now. That’s sixty bucks you have on your paper. And that’s assuming you don’t make a sale and we all know you will nail it. Heck, depending on the sale, those five people could cover you initial deposit!”

At this point, my buddy Gregg nudged me and showed me his meeting’s worth of notes he had been doodling:

(This of course is a recreation I whipped up on Paint. By the way, the guy isn't Asian, his eyes are closed. I figured if I ever licked a set of balls, I would probably close my eyes while I did it.)

I laughed very loudly and unapologetically. It made the head douche a little uncomfortable. We then stood up and walked out while he was in mid sentence.

Seven and a half years later, I now find myself as a sales professional. A real salesman that consults with real businesses by selling them actual solutions to actual problems. Slightly different from selling penny cutting scissors door to door. And let me tell you something, this kind of garbage gives us legitimate sales reps a bad name. People smell this greasy bull crap a mile away and they resent the hell out of it. It insults and manipulates them. If CutCo Knives are so wonderful (and they very likely could be) then sell them at Bed Bath and Beyond. That way, when a customer needs a knife, they could go to the store and buy what they need, when they need it. I promise you that no one in the history of time has ever said to themselves, "Man, I need a good fillet knife but I just don't want to go to the store and buy it. If only a stranger would knock on my door, unannounced and uninvited and aggressively sell me a deceptively priced knife. Oh well. Guess I'll just get in my car and buy it the way I buy every single other thing in my life."

I don’t know what it is about us Mormons that makes us such easy prey for this kind of crap. I really wish I knew. What irritates me the most about it all is the way they shamelessly try to parlay the skills and confidence we developed on our Missions into the most hackneyed of sales jobs. It's shameful the way they often exploit the organizations of the church like Priesthood Quorums, Relief Society and Home Teaching assignments and turn them into a sales pipeline. There’s something deeply wrong with that. It’s not quite the same thing as the money changers that Christ threw out of the Temple but it’s along the same lines. Now before I go overboard with my indignation, I don't think it is nearly as bad as APX Security Systems reps lying to the elderly about crime rates to scare them into buying a crappy product. But I do think that this whole wheeling and dealing, Glenn Gary Glenn Ross culture cheapens the church and its members.

By the way, you gotta love the way I get all sanctimonious and righteous at the end of an entry that included several swear words, references to “jacking off” and “copping a feel” as well as crudely drawn balls. Such is the complicated paradox that is me.