Monday, October 26, 2009

People I May Heinously Murder: The Marketing Department at Ask.com

As any avid reader of my blog knows, I’m a big baseball fan. As such, I’ve been watching the Major League playoffs pretty much nonstop for the past couple of weeks or so.

During that time I’ve come to loathe numerous things, largely in part because the playoffs have been completely inundated with the same seven-or-so commercials playing ad infinitum each and every game.

At this point, I abso-F’n-lutely hate George Lopez. No one in their right mind is going to tune into TBS for a late-night talk show hosted by this ass-clown.

He’s not funny, despite being a comedian—something that in most professions gets you fired—and his show is on freakin’ TBS. Who thinks TBS when they think late-night talk shows?!

Conan and Letterman are going to destroy your ass and this abomination will get canceled in the first month, meaning I sat through 8 million commercials for your new show for no reason.

This will not be forgotten, Lopez.

Anyway, this isn’t about George Lopez. This isn’t about Hass Avocados, Avis car rentals, Charles Schwab or any of the other commercials that I’ve seen so many times the people at Guantanamo Bay would feel inclined to say “come on dude, that’s enough.”

No, no…this is about the new Ask.com commercials.

For anyone who has yet to witness this atrocity, I’m warning you now. It hurts. It hurts physically and it hurts emotionally.

The scariest part is that there is definitely the potential that the dreadful jingle could get stuck in your head and I don’t want that to happen to any of you, my Faithful Readers.

Now that you’ve officially been warned, here it is for your viewing displeasure…

CLICK IF YOU DARE


Okay, if you’re still reading that means you didn’t destroy your desktop, laptop or mobile device with a hammer and for that, I thank you.

I don’t know how ads like these get approved, let alone created. Like seriously, can you imagine the pitch meeting in the marketing department at Ask.com:

Idiot #1: “Hey y’all, we need a new commercial…something that will REALLY get people talking.”
Idiot #2: “Man, I’ve got nothing.”
Idiot #3: “You know what would rock, a commercial that is both visually unappealing AND completely grating on the ears!!”
Idiot #2: “Wouldn’t people hate that?!”
Idiot #3: “Oh yeah, but it’ll get ‘em talking…”
Idiot #1: “What was that? I wasn’t paying any attention, I was reading the latest installment at “Blank Stares and Blank Pages” on my iPhone, you guys just do whatever. Just make sure it gets people talking. I’ve got to go to some high-powered lunch or whatever rich people like me do…”


And yeah, that’s pretty much how I envision that this monstrosity came to be.

It’s hard to imagine that there was a time when Ask.com was associated with Jeeves, the butler and not a bunch of dancing douchebags, with blatantly limited vocabularies.

You know what’s even worse, whilst doing a little investigating to write this mini-rant, I stumbled upon the actual Askdeals.com section of Ask.com that this commercial advertising abortion is pimping and found a fate worse than death.

The site plays this freakin’ song on a never-ending loop with videos featuring real people—all of whom I can only assume have serious, serious mental deficiencies—singing and dancing along.

If that wasn’t enough, the website managed to crash my computer.

So to the folks in Ask.com’s marketing department, I want you to listen and listen real good…I’m coming for you jerks.

You won’t know when. You won’t know where. But trust me, I’m going to find y’all and make you pay for unleashing this plague upon the entire baseball-loving population.

Home-Sweet-Home with Zombies

I saw a headline today that included the words “Iowa” and “zombie.”

Awesome, right?!

Wrong.

As it turns out, the story is drastically tamer than I’d hoped. Apparently, Iowa is not (yet) serving as ground zero for the early stages of the impending Zombie Apocalypse.

No, no…according to the story from the fine folks at the Associated Press, Iowa was the scene of something far more common and far less bad-ass.

It seems that some drunk dude was at a restaurant sometime around bar close most-likely in search of some pancakes and bacon—an Iowa staple to stave off hangovers and/or allow us to drive our pickup trucks/tractors/Trans-Ams/horses/lawn-mowers home—when he saw some other dude meander into the same restaurant and decided to go say hi to him.

This seems innocent enough, right?! Sure.

Except that the drunk dude wandered up to the other guy and slugged him in the face, twice. Apparently he thought the other guy was zombie.

I’m not going to lie this makes me just a little bit ashamed to admit I’m from Iowa.

I mean come on, some drunk guy goes and punches another dude in the face because he thinks he’s a zombie?!

That’s just ridiculous…and here’s why:

• There is no “thinking” someone is a zombie. Anyone with aspirations of killing hordes of zombies, and potentially surviving the aforementioned Zombie Apocalypse, has to KNOW a zombie when they see ‘em. Accidentally killing non-zombies is a waste of valuable ammunition and leaves you prone to attack by real zombies.



• He punched the non-zombie in the face?! Come on, Dude…that’s just bush league. Everyone knows that you don’t try to f’n punch zombies. You destroy the brain. Sure, sure you can try to slow or disable a zombie and a well-placed kick to the knee will definitely do that, but a punch to the face?! Zombies do their worst damage when they bite, so why in the blue-hell would you want to purposely put your fist in his craw?! It’s just poor-planning, Hillbilly!



• He scampered off out the back door of the restaurant, leaving the non-zombie not only alive, but alert and really pissed off. If he thought it was a real zombie he should have stuck around to make sure the mofo was dead—or is it more undead?!—rather than high-tail it outta there at the first sign of trouble. Plus come on, who in their right mind wants to piss off a zombie and then just leave him/her layin’ there to stew about it.


Now normally, I’ll defend Iowa to the hilt, but today it’s tough.

Which is a shame. I mean come on, folks…we’re a pretty bad-ass state.

We’ve got one of the top-ranked college football teams in the country, we’re ahead of the curve on gay marriage, we have a Taco John’s nearly once every 20-30 miles in every direction and—most importantly—they filmed “Field of Dreams” (a quasi-zombie movie) on our turf. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Despite that bevy of pros (and lack of cons), defending my wonderful, corn-laden homeland feels tough after reading about this drunken jackass.

Someone explain to me how one piss-poor zombie-hunter-wannabe, like this dude, is what gets Iowa into the news. We’re freakin’ awesome!! I mean…for frick’s sake…Taco John’s…

…’tis a damned shame.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

End of an Era


My Faithful Readers, I come to you today with a heavy heart.

Today I have to announce the end of an era.

I recently learned that the MIT Libraries will be discontinuing the storied tradition of overnight shifts during finals week, starting with this semester.

According to the website’s hours listings, we’ll only be staying open until 2am, rather than all-night.

Technically, nothing has been "officially" announced yet, but if it's made it to the website already...it's pretty much a done-deal.

This is unfortunate for many reasons.

First and foremost, I used the finals week overnight shifts as a serious cash cow.

You see, in this job were aren’t blessed with Christmas bonuses or anything like that and given the “trying times” substantial raises are a little hard to come by. As such, working an extra 20+ hours per week in the middle of night is a good way to pad the paycheck a little, especially right before the holidays.

Additionally, I’m going to miss the incredible fodder for delirious, sleep-deprived blogging that overnights provided.

As any avid reader of my blog is aware, the “Dear Diary” series was born as a result of the nocturnal activities of MIT nerd population.

It is a shame that—unless I’m in the mood to begin hanging out in trees outside the dorms—I’ve lost my window into the world of sleepless supernerds.

With the knowledge that “Dear Diary” and my twice-a-year cash windfall are no more, I recommend all y’all spend a minute of silence in memory and then—as we do in Iowa—pour a forty on the curb for those who couldn’t be here.

…’tis a gosh-darn shame!!

My Fourth Blogiversary!!

Although I’m sure most of you had it marked on your calendars anyway, I figured I’d send a little shout-out to myself today on this, my fourth blogiversary.

That’s right ladies and gentlemen, it was on a fateful (read: intoxicated and bored) evening back in 2005 when I finally gave into the lure of blogging, this game on the heels of an equally intoxicated and bored evening where I fell into the life-sucking trap that is Facebook.

Needless to say, it was two pretty big days for me.

Last year, I took a look back at my previous three years worth of random, spastic blogging only to find that I was pretty much a failure at the whole thing.

In three years I’d mustered roughly 50 posts here at “Blank Stares and Blank Pages” and another 30 or so on my sports blog, “Cheap Seat Chronicles.”

In the year since I’ve done slightly better, and by slightly, I mean light-years better.

Not only have the posts gone up significantly—here at BSBP I’ve written 241 different posts in the last year and over at CSC I’ve written 50 posts—but I’ve also hit the 10,000 and 20,000 readers mark, I’ve been offered a quasi-job (read: unpaid), my sports blogs have instigated Major League trade rumors and potentially one actual trade that came to fruition, tons of readership and interaction from strangers all across the country and even a few slaps on the hand from my employer.

All-in-all, I’d call that a pretty solid year, wouldn’t you?!

I got into a real groove after a trip to the Midwest last October and it never really slowed down until this summer when my attentions were drawn largely to my sports blogging after receiving “An Offer I Couldn’t Refuse” from the sports blogging site “BleacherReport.com.”

Since August, however, I’ve fallen into a serious rut thanks to a big ole batch of writer’s block and a very busy social calendar.

As you’re reading this, my blog is rapidly approaching the 25,000 reader mark—a fact I’m quite proud of, especially given the total lack of worthwhile content in recent months.

My hope is to really get going both here and at CSC again very soon.

I just took a much-needed trip home and got to relax and just chill out with my family and friends (and gobble up some Taco John’s) and I can’t help but feel more refreshed and ready to get back into the swing of things.

Lastly, but certainly not least, I want to thank all y’all who continue to frequent my blogs and read my mindless, ass-ramblings. It makes it all feel worthwhile when I get a string of replies or at least a big ole spike on the traffic stats.

Here’s to hoping the next year is even better than the last one.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

TBS Hates the Minnesota Twins

As any avid reader of my blog can tell you, I’m a pretty big baseball fan.

To that end, I’m a huge Minnesota Twins fan.

As such, the past couple of weeks have been very exciting. The Twins scratched and fought and clawed their way back from the brink to win the American League Central Division in a thrilling one-game playoff against the Detroit Tigers.

For their efforts the Twins earned a date with the New York Yankees in the first-round of the playoffs.

For anyone who doesn’t follow baseball very closely, the Yankees are $200+ million behemoth that currently employs three of baseball’s top four highest paid players.

The Twins are a small-market team that has survived (and thrived) over the years largely on solid scouting, shrewd player development and spend-thrift tactics.

To get a good grasp on what a David vs Goliath story this really was, one could look simply at the overall payroll of the Twins (roughly $65 million) versus the aforementioned salaries of just the three highest paid Yankees (roughly $75 million).

Anyway, bitching about salaries notwithstanding, the real problem was how badly TBS—the station covering the playoffs—treated the Twins throughout the series.

From day one the Twins were treated like an afterthought. The announcers never gave them any credit or even a fighting chance.

Often times the announcing was so abysmal I had to mute the TV for fear that I’d throw a book or a baseball or myself through it in a desperate attempt to quiet the mindless ass-rambling of Chip Caray.

For their part the Twins played some very tight ballgames, but just couldn’t hang with the Yankees and eventually were swept out of the Division Series three games to none.

All of that I can handle.

I was upset by the Twins’ inability to put games away.

I was upset by the announcers’ inability to not suck at life.

I was upset by the umpires’ inability to see with anything better than 80/80 vision.

What upset me most, however, was that during the decisive game three matchup between the Twins and Yankees, TBS decided to pan the crowd and zoom in on some of Minnesota’s “finest specimens.”

They did the same thing in New York, mind you, zooming in on celebrities like Jay-Z and Kate Hudson or well-dressed business men and hotties in Derek Jeter jerseys.

In Minnesota, we got this:



That’s right folks, of the 54,735 people in the stands that day, the powers that be at TBS decided to flash these two on the screen for all the world to see.

Sure, sure we got the occasional snapshot of some worrisome looking Nordic gals in their pink Joe Mauer jerseys or some wholesome, sideburn-bearing gentleman in crooked TC caps. But it was these two fine specimens that the TBS crew decided to focus on.

Of all the audience shots, these two received the most prolonged screen time; so much so that at my Twins party (which, living in Boston was more of an anti-Yankees party than anything else) the entire populous in attendance broke into uproarious laughter.

Not cool, TBS. Not cool at all.