Archive for the “Offtopic” Category

I hereby call a time out, all sides.

Everybody, go to your respective corner, grab a beverage of choice, watch a movie, read a great book, get some sleep, and maybe, just maybe, chill the hell out.

THEN come back on Monday, and see if you still feel cranky.

Me, I’ve got a Red Dog, the Sherlock Holmes movie again, The Wizard by Gene Wolfe (holy shit these books are brilliant), and then I’ma get some sleep.

Seeya Monday.

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Here in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul in Minnesota, USA (known as the Land of Two Seasons – Winter and Road Repair), we have a pop radio station called KDWB.

This station has a (mostly) funny morning show called the Dave Ryan Show. They’re mostly idiots, playing to the “oh I’m so pretty, I’m better than everyone else” crowd, while at the same time trying to prove they’re better than that themselves by having skits where they mock vain, pretty pretentious people… which is akin to Microwave Oven manufacturers making commercials mocking people who eat fast food.

Just as a brief side note, and feel free to disagree with my take on it, but if you ever wonder why people in any form of paid media continue to hold to outdated stereotypes and lazy thinking about communities of people, keep in mind… if you’re looking at a show that has paid employees, with paid advertising, they are going to be sucking up to/kissing the ass of a specific demographic of their audience. If that demographic is perceived by the media folks to enjoy feeling smug or superior over another social group, why, the mindless mocking and playing to the lowest common denominator will begin.

I really do think this is why there is both a continued mocking of videogame players as all being basement-dwelling nerds with smashed glasses and pocket protectors in some media markets, and why in other media markets there has arisen a catering TO gamers’ interests and a general attempt at being more respectful of gamers on a regular basis. One group of media is catering to the demographic that desperately wants to believe that they’re still superior to the geeks and nerds they thought they were better than in High School, and the other media types are recognising the reality of gamers as a demographic that, like, graduated, went to college, got an actual well paying job, and now SPENDS MONEY on consumer electronics.

Did you really think there was another reason anyone would kiss our ass? They want our money, and they figure if we think they really like us or respectful of us, then we’ll give our money to them. Which probably works.

In short… changes in gamer portrayal in the media don’t reflect a greater awareness or maturity among the public in general, but rather greed among media executives in particular. Eh, whatever, it’s not like I trust any of them to be unbiased in the first place. Just funny to watch who says what, how they say it, and to whom are they intending to say it.

Watching the TV show “60 Minutes” makes me laugh my butt off. That show is so twisted in it’s portrayal of events, ALL events, that trying to nail down what demo they’re targeting could be a blog post all on it’s own.

Back to KDWB. This is a radio station with a mix of pop hits and palatable white bread rap/hip hop that tries to act like they’re in the forefront of current trends and culture, so the demo they cater to on their talk shows are the “oh my god, I’m so pretty and I was, like, SO popular in High School!” crowd that loves relationship drama and following famous celebrity gossip to escape from the pointlessness of their own meager, shallow lives. Nuff said?

Hehehe… that would be an example of spin to cater to MY targeted demographic… anybody properly cynical and sarcastic with an IQ higher than the temperature of freshly cooked tapioca, and a love of bacon. Mah peeps!

Oh, why do I listen to their show? Sorry, but their morning show simply cracks me up, and since I swore off political talk shows for the sake of my sanity, there are few other choices. My hard drive with my entire MP3 collection vaporized itself, so I’m a radio listener now. :(

Dave Ryan in particular can spin some great chat. He has a wonderful comedic delivery. And the morning drive is sooooo boring. I flip to other channels whenever they start playing actual music, but that thing I said about mocking stereotypes to cater to a demographic? Yeah, our local rock station caters to the “I smoked in High School and drank bud and played football or liked to cheerlead and flash my tits to drunk guys” demo, so they also mock anyone who dares enjoying video games. Sigh. So few choices to listen to that don’t feel like they have to kiss ass and score points by bashing other social groups.

Back on track here… one of the KDWB morning show, ahem, “personalities”, is Lena Svenson, which is simply the most hilariously ethnic radio DJ name I’ve ever heard for a market in the mostly Norwegian/Scandinavian Minnesota area. I truly believe it’s got to be intentionally made up to mock the locals. I’ve got two reasons for thinking so. First, Lena sometimes slips and sounds too intelligent, and she has real talent and a fast wit. So, I think she dumbs down her routine for the demo she’s paid to play for, but mocking them with a name like Lena Svenson really seems in character. And second, one of the more prevalent “I’m a racist, and I’m telling a racist joke but it’s about white people so it’s okay” cultural phenomena in Minnesota is the telling of “‘Ollie and Lena” or “Ollie and Sven” jokes. Which is why I think “Lena Svenson” for a morning show DJ in Minnesota has just GOT to be made up.

The morning show does various skits to distract commutors from the horror of our daily lives, and one of them is this thing they call “American Idiots”. Listeners text in song titles they want the morning show to write song parodies with, and the morning show crew each has to write a parody using the song title, and then sing it live.

These are frequently horrific, sometimes amusing, often very revealing of the inner prejudices of the DJs when you hear what they came up with for lyrics, and rarely, rarely brilliant.

Last week, Lena Svenson did this parody of Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” she called “Indoor Summer Girls”.

She only did a verse or two, but it was brilliant, because it was just so… so “us”, meaning Cassie and me.

So many people here love camping and hiking and living the outdoor life, which is great. I was a Marine for 8 years, I’m not exactly afraid of being outdoors in harsh or extreme environments. I loved camping and getting in crazy, remote, wild areas where you could still feel as though you were exploring the world fresh and new.

Out here, though, a lot of locals take it to this smug, really offensive level, like, if you have a TV, or turn on your AC and close your windows, or if you like chilling out and reading, you must be scum.

Lena’s parody was like the positive anthem for our way of life… the people that enjoy closed windows, low humidity and working air conditioning in the summer, who think being proud and boastful of leaving your windows open and the AC off all summer is idiotic, people who enjoy watching TV or reading a book while eating popcorn, or having movie night with friends instead of getting drunk and grinding against skanky strangers before puking your guts out in the bathroom every night. 

Yeah, I know, chances are good you didn’t hear it on the radio in the Twin Cities that morning. So, why am I blabbing away?

They got such a massive demand for them to replay her 1 minute rough parody that they did a studio version of the song, and play it all the time now.

And you can listen to it TOO!

Download it for free on mp3 at their website.

So.. a free song parody that cracks me up. What have you got to lose?

So go check out Lena’s Indoor Summer Girls song at KDWB!

~~

For extra credit, see how many times I intentionally mocked demographics other than gamers in this article to kiss the ass of my readers when it was completely unnecessary to getting the point of a fun MP3 being available, and where.

For a perfect score, list each different demographic mocked!

Comments 12 Comments »

This is so far offtopic, you can’t even see WoW from this one if you used the Hubble.

Let’s talk for a moment about corporate greed, accounting scandals, corporate misuse of funds, and other assorted ‘creative accounting’ misdeeds.

Large multinational conglomerates, huge corporations that employ hundreds of thousands of people, research, manufacture or distribute thousands of products from dozens of divisions and branches around the world, and see cash or credit profit flow among accounts that pass well beyond 30 billion dollars each year. That’s 30 billion profit, and I don’t mean profit before income tax. 

Is it any wonder corrupt CEOs and other company officers continue to believe that, with so much cash sloshing around so many divisions, in a system too complex for any one person to keep straight without an army of accountants, that they could just dip their hands in the bucket of corporate profit and siphon off whatever they’d like for their own use?

The names of the companies already brought low have become legendary.

Enron. Adelphia. WorldCom. Global Crossing.

The story of John Rigas, convicted former CEO and one of the founders of Adelphia, is a great example. Rigas was convicted for fraud in the embezzlement/looting of Adelphia’s funds on the order of 3.1 billion dollars. By all reports, both of his sons and a few friends were in on it with him.

Just yesterday, the papers held stories that a cellmate of Bernie Madoff, who had been convicted for 11 counts of fraud and sentenced to 150 years in prison, had revealed to this guy that he still had 9 billion dollars secreted away in hidden accounts that nobody knew about.

Why would a ridiculous claim like that be considered possible enough to hit the papers?

Maybe because it’s estimated that while the court appointed trustees officially acknowledge Mr. Madoff of having bilked his customers to the tune of 18 billion dollars, actual accounting analysis suggests the amount that really vanished from his customers accounts over the years comes closer to 65 billion.

65 beeellllllliiiiooooon dollars.

Seems beyond comprehension that a single man could steal more money than some countries have as their GDP, doesn’t it? Like, more money than the GDP of Costa Rica size ludicrous.

And yet, let’s face facts. As hated and reviled as these people are, as atrocious and silly as the lists of things these people bought with their stolen wealth may be, in the end they’re just pikers.

Chump change. Rank amateurs.

These idiots bought houses. Mansions. Gold plated toilets and $50,000 shower curtains.

That’s nothing.

There is one CEO whose exploits in looting their company, in misdirecting profits, in bilking shareholders of earned dividends goes beyond anything those toads could ever have dreamed.

A CEO who not only bought race cars, but had their own company finance the design and construction of a supercar for their own personal, exclusive use that makes the Vayron, the Daimler-Benz T80 and the 2009 SSC Ultimate Aero look like Honda Civics by comparison.

A CEO who not only had his own corporate LearJet, but had multiple custom high performance jet aircraft made for his own exclusive use from redirected company funds.

Hell, this CEO had his own, personal submarine, docking facility, multiple Cray supercomputers for private use, AND…

Hold onto your hats…

A custom satellite that he launched into space outside the control of any international space agency, and his own personal satellite control center. All under his own, exclusive, personal control.

And all deriving from funds drained from his publicly owned company over decades.

Best of all… this CEO has never been brought up on charges for all this spending. He’s never been held accountable to this day.

I am talking, of course, about one of the most amazingly larcenous CEOs in history; Bruce Wayne.

Damn straight.

Let’s look at the public relations blurb put out about Wayne Corporation, reprinted from Wikipedia;

Based in Gotham City, Wayne Corp was founded in the seventeenth century as a merchant house and has grown to become one of the top 10 world multinational conglomerates. Today, Wayne Corp continues to achieve excellence across a wide range of industry sectors and markets, employing some 170,000 people in 170 countries. The current CEO & Chairman, Bruce Wayne, is a keen modernizer and is continuing to grow the business in the financial sector and high end technologies.

Sounds professional, right? Successful, progressive, a forward moving corporation for the new millennium.

But while you can see the surface signs of embezzlement from the documentaries Batman Begins and Batman: The Dark Knight, it’s only when you really get into the behind-the-scenes stories as related by the business journal DC Comics that you see the true scope of his crimes. 

Despite employing over 170,000 employees stretched across 12 divisions, and being shared publicly, Bruce Wayne has long seen Wayne Corporation as nothing more than his own personal piggy bank, to be raided whenever he feels like a new toy.

The question was raised years ago, “Where does he get those wonderful toys?”

Well, the answer is clear. Bruce Wayne is a white collar criminal on a scale hardly ever dreamed of before.

If you think Bernie Madoff is excoriated and derided now, just imagine if the list of baubles HE’D purchased with his ill gotten gains included his own personal submarine! A submarine, let’s be clear about this, with a custom bat logo welded onto the front.

So why is it that we hate Bernie Madoff, but we have nothing but love for Bruce Wayne? Why the double standard?

Hell, Bruce Wayne not only buys whatever he feels like and even has to make up new categories to find ways to spend billions of Wayne Corporation dollars, he even flys all over the world, stealing money from his corporate shareholders in order to woo and bed sexy starlets and vapid headed bimbos by the dozen, all supposedly to maintain a ‘billionaire playboy’ image created purely for public consumption to throw the law off his tracks.

So, how is it we love him so much?

Three words.

Crime fighter defense.

Bruce Wayne steals money from his shareholders, sure, but he doesn’t really want to use it for selfish reasons.

No, not at all!

It’s not for himself, it’s to help him better fight crime.

Every time he takes one of those starlets to the sack in a luxurious penthouse apartment, and then afterwords ducks down to his billion dollar secret underground network of caves he installed under the Charitable Foundation he named after his mother, he’s not really enjoying it. Oh, no, not hardly.

He just does it because he has to, so he can fight crime better.

So, this raises an interesting question, doesn’t it?

In future cases against CEOs that redirect funds from their corporations for their own private use, why shouldn’t their defense attorneys use the “crime fighting” defense?

Clearly, you can explain it all away as long as you just make it clear to the jury, it was all done with the best of intentions for a wonderful, selfless cause!

Of course, risking your life day in and day out fighting wackos is a bit extreme when setting up a future legal defense strategy.

There is an alternative. Simply make huge donations to non-profit organizations, organize charitable foundations, and spend a lot of money under the table doing good works. Establish yourself as a clandestine benefactor, obsessed with doing the right thing… with other people’s money.

Once you get it set up and running, all that time you spend blowing money on fine whiskey and finer women was just to keep up the outward façade of self-centered arrogance, right? Wouldn’t want your corporate competition to think you were weak and ripe for a takeover, after all.

The crime fighter defense.

Please, let me see it used just once before I die.

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A few nights ago we set up base camp in Rapid City, SD (Hi David!) and began exploring the Black Hills.

We’ve done quite a lot of scenic driving, we’ve seen Mount Rushmore twice (if you include attending the 9 PM lighting ceremony tonight… Cassie has blackmail pics of me down there with the rest of the veterans), we’ve seen a TON of winding roads, hills, valleys, streams, waterfalls, rain, rain, rain, and towns that have fancy billboards that herald a racy wild west past, only to find that they consist of tourist gift shops, ice cream parlors, t-shirt vendors and casinos. Lots and lots of casinos.

Deadwood, Lead, Rapid City, Sturgis, Keystone… casino central.

Oh yeah, Alex has decided he loves Magnetite, but each gift shop up here is more expensive than the one before. If anyone knows where the cheapest online source of magnetite is, give me a shout, okay?

In keeping my eye open for vacation tidbits worthy of appearing on the blog, I think I’ve found two more for this edition. That’s right, you won’t find a boring travelogue here at the BBB, if it doesn’t make me chuckle, I don’t throw it at you. Considering how easily amused I am, that’s not saying much.

First up for your amusement, a few days ago we visited a cave. Rushmore Cave, to be exact. Since we had Alex with us, we didn’t go in for one of the “Adventure” tours, where you have to be able to squeeze through narrow openings to qualify to go. We went with the default visit.

The Rushmore Cave experience, just a little outside Keystone, SD, was very enjoyable. It was my first actual cave tour before, since hiding in a hole in a rock doesn’t count as a “tour”. These were actual cave systems descending, rising, and twisting around, accompanied by actual stalactites and stalagmites. Oh, and the way I was taught to remember the difference is, Stalagmites have a “g” in the word, for “ground”, and stalactites have a “c” in the word, for “ceiling”. The tour guide had some weird other way she told us for remembering which was which, and I just stared at her blankly.

Alex loved it, I loved it, Cassie had fun and it had JUST enough narrow openings and places to duck and squeeze through to make it feel adventurous. And, it gave me a fun perspective for future stories about exploring underground in fantasy novels, which is great for me, let me tell you.

The fun bit relevant to the blog came when we are in this one cavern that they call the wedding chapel, and the tour guide is describing some of the calcite formations in the cavern. She points at a few ribbons of stalactite formations, and tells us, “Those particular formations are called Cave Bacon, because of the way they look like thick ribbons of bacon, with alternating bands of darker and lighter color.”

No matter where I go, that’s right, I twist the universe to bring me into contact with SOME form of bacon… even rock bacon.

MMMmmmMMM Bacon!

Oh, as long as I’m on the subject, the triple bacon sandwich at Arnold’s Classic Diner in Rapid City is delicious on sourdough bread.

The second fun thing happened this morning, when we ducked over into Wyoming to visit Devil’s Tower. We heard it was lonely, the poor thing.

We did the walk around Devil’s Tower, got some nice pictures, had a lot of fun in the open air. Saw some deer, saw a lot of rock, it was nice. Did I mention the rock?

When we visited the Visitor’s Center, there was this lovely painting by Herbert A. Collins illustrating the legend of Mato the Bear hanging over the fireplace, and it immediately became my favorite part of the Devil’s Tower visit.

I’d dearly love to see Blizzard add this particular event as a variation of an Old World Dragon Boss, handled like Kologarn is in Ulduar, a boss so huge you can only face him by being on top of a mountain.

Check this out Bear Blog readers!

Isn’t that awesome?

Yeah, that is one badass bear. Mato The Bear. Know the name. Fear the name. Just shush about the tail. :)

How would you like to be out there exploring in Azeroth, and have to scurry to find higher ground to escape from the giantest freaking BEAR of all time?

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So, we’re on vacation to South Dakota.

At the time of this writing, I’ve been driving for two days through rain, and assiduously avoiding the internet. I know that MMO Champion has released tons of new info on Cataclysm, and I am proud to say I don’t actually have any interest in the details at all. I COULD check it out… but naaah.

As we have traveled through the delightful reaches of South Dakota, there have been two wonderfully trippy moments to share.

Both moments happened in Mitchell last night.

First, we went to the Corn Palace, a fine testament to the struggle of early Americans to come up with marketing ploys to suck people into bringing cash into their city.

No, that’s not sarcasm. The Corn Palace put on a 15 minute movie, and in the first 15 seconds, the movie made it clear, two guys back in the day of the wild west, before South Dakota was a state, were chatting, wondering to each other “What can we do to bring people to our city and spend money?” The answer? To steal someone else’s idea. “Another city has a wheat palace, and a different city tried to make a corn palace to compete but failed to build it. Why don’t WE steal their idea, build a corn palace, and use it as a draw to sucker people from miles around to come see it, and while here, spend their money on food and rooms to sleep?” “Good idea!”

To prove the efficacy of their idea, here we were, 80 years later, sitting in the Corn Palace, about to buy souvenirs, room booked at a local hotel, and dinner about to be purchased. Just another group of tourists, suckered in to see the Corn Palace. Go us.

Still, the actual first amazing trippy thing? The Corn Palace was filled with tacky gifts to buy. As Alex gleefully filled a bag with selected shiny rocks (only $4.99 per bag!) I browsed among the stuffed Jackalopes and carved corn sculptures (with stickers saying Made in China!), and made a glorious discovery that harkened back to my earliest childhood.

What did I find?

I found a display of candy… candy CIGARETTES!!!

Oh hell yes, these were the shit. I’d go to the Five and Dime store, and buy a couple packs of fake candy smokes, and pretend to light up outside. The candy tasted like crap, but they were cigarettes! A paperboard box stamped with a realistic logo, the little tax stamp faked at the top, the whole deal.

I hadn’t seen these in decades, and here they were!

I just had to buy a pack.

They sit here on my hotel desk, reminding me of a simpler time, a better time, a golden era of America. A time when seat belts didn’t even come on cars, where kids could sleep on the back seat during long rides, where everybody smoked, even the kids, where you didn’t care about cholesterol; you cooked with Crisco lard straight out of the can by the ice cream scoopful, where the hot new thing was this kickass video game called Pac-Man, and the rich kid down the block had an actual video game on his TV at home, this badass game two kids could play against each other called PONG!

Damn right, Pong was real, bitches! Now that’s hardcore.

I didn’t spend 59 cents on a tacky souvenir, I bought a gateway to my childhood. A childhood where, if someone had ever suggested someone would be stupid enough to spill hot coffee from McDonalds on themselves and then sued McDonalds for not posting a warning label that the hot coffee would be, like, hot, that we naively would assume they’d be laughed out of court, and then mocked for the rest of their lives.

Yes, a time of innocence, before reality crushed my spirit into endless cynicism that doubles in this world as being a realist.

Hey, I can really spin some words out of a pack of candy smokes, can’t I?

The second amazing thing I’m going to leave more to your imagination.

We went to a truck stop across the street from our hotel for dinner.

It was a truck stop with a fairly large home cooking restaurant.

Our waitress had a tattoo on her face. A tattoo that stopped me dead in my tracks with complete and total brain lock.

It is NOT overstating things to say that my brain tried to process what my eyes saw, and then broke.

I’ll preface this by saying, I drove a truck cross-country for a couple years after I got out of the Marines. A full tractor-trailer, 18 wheeler, yadda yadda rig. I lived out of the sleeper cab rather than use hotel rooms on the road, I ate out of truck stops and diners, and I saw every bit of the continental US.

I learned that there are certain… unsavory facts the kills the romance of our heroic long distance truckers.

One of those facts, is lot lizards.

Lot lizard, and I’m totally serious, is the term truckers use for women of negotiable affection who cruise the truck lots by night, looking for cash in exchange for hauling some ash.

Lot lizards. That’s what they call ‘em.

Well, a lot of truckers are single and want to hump anything that moves. And a lot of truckers are family drivers that want absolutely nothing to do with lot lizards.

So, since the way lot lizards get business is by walking up and down the lines of rumbling, idling trucks tapping on windows and propositioning the drivers, there have been two methods developed on the down low to signal ones’ interests.

The drivers that want nothing to do with lot lizards can easily find and buy stickers that show a sleazy looking female lizard with scales and hideous lipstick, with a big circle/bar symbol over it, to signify “No lot lizards”. I’ve also seen handmade signs that just say, “No Lot Lizards”, for use by truckers that don’t own their own rigs but drive company ones.

Then there are the guys (and presumably ladies) that DO want to make a lot lizard hookup.

Hey, it’s just like gold sellers. Everybody says they don’t use ‘em, but SOMEBODY is keeping them coming back, right?

Well, for truckers looking for lot lizards, there are these pictures you see of a sexy lady in silhouette, usually of solid silver color. You can get them as stickers, you can get them on bumper stickers or license plate frames, and you see them most prominently on big trailer mud flaps.

Yes, that’s what they mean. If you ever bought one and displayed it and had no idea what it meant, however it may have started, that’s what it means in the trucking industry now.

So, truckers who are seeking the attentions of the lot lizards make sure they display that prominently on their truck somewhere.

Which kind of trucker was I?

I’ll put it this way.

After a long day of driving, anybody rapping on MY truck window waking my ass up pisses me off. I’m a tired, grumpy old bear, leave me the hell alone.

So this brings us right up to last night, at a truck stop diner, a family restaurant, and our waitress… all properly attired in clean, neat uniform… hair up in a bun, pleasant smile… and one of those leaning lady nudes TATTOOED ON HER FACE NEXT TO HER RIGHT EYE!!!

I’m serious. I looked at her, my eyes noticed a tattoo on her face, my eyes tracked over, identified the image… and my brain tried to process the sequence of events that would lead a woman to choose to have THAT tattooed permanently on her face forever, and my brain simply went “Uh, wha? Huh? Whadafu?”

I still have no idea. Not a clue.

And you know what?

I don’t really want to know. I’m just going to chalk it up as a “Wow, every time I think I’ve seen it all, I find out that I haven’t even come close” moment.

So, with that lovely image ringing in your minds, I shall say farewell. May you enjoy your week of constant barrages of WoW info, while I check out the rough loveliness of the badlands of South Dakota, the Mount Rushmore faces, and as many nice meals out as I can scam out of Cassie.

Bye!

Comments 14 Comments »

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