Thursday, July 19, 2007

You know what I wish?

I wish that 95% of the people at work who ask me, “Can you proofread this to make sure I got the grammar right?” would come to me before that point and ask instead, “Can you work with me to make sure my message is on target, interesting, and provokes a measurable response?” It’s as if these people think that if I correct their comma splices and capitalize the right letters, it will improve their message. If all you’re asking me to do is tidy up your crap, you’re just going to end up with a tidy pile of crap.

Nine times out of ten, I end up re-writing the whole thing and bringing it back. It’s often better to do this than to bring back a one-page letter with more red ink on it than black. I hate going up to a Senior Vice President and ask them to start over from the beginning, but more often than not, it’s the best place to go. What’s your objective? Start there and move forward. Stay on task and on objective and you’ll be fine.

Not to sound all Jeff Goldblum-y from “Jurassic Park”, but just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do something. Just because you have been writing in some capacity since you were five doesn’t mean that you are able to write a letter to customers that gets across the message you intended.

I think that’s the thing people forget most about communication. Communication isn’t what you say, write, or blog. Communication is what’s understood by your audience. If they don’t “get it,” that’s your fault as a company/business/charity/pimp. If you’re the one intruding on their time, you had damn well better make sure that you’re sending out exactly what you want to say in a way that the customer wants to hear.

Every time you send a letter or an e-mail or a brochure or an STD to a customer, it’s marketing. Marketing only works when the right message is sent to the right person in the right medium. Actually, I guess I should say that marketing works optimally in this situation, but I’m from the old school that thinks that any marketing that isn’t optimal is a wasted marketing opportunity. And all the grammar fixes in the world can’t fix a wasted opportunity.

So, stick that in your pipe and capitalize it. End of my marketing/grammar sermon. Back to fun stuff.

I'm a Moron

Yup. I am. It's true.

I've been trying to add more tools to this blog. Links. RSS Feeds. Midgets riding oversized tricycles. I'm still pretty new to all this blogging and Internet stuff. As such, you're not going to find a lot of fancy things on this site. Heck, I'm still having trouble creating links in my posts.

Why am I saying all this now? Well, since I added the RSS Feed, I can see that I've got a number of people subscribing in a reader. That's cool. I'm just saying it because I don't want them to unsubscribe when they realize I'm a total techno-moron at this point. Stick with me, this ride is going to kick some serious arse when I flatten the learning curve a little bit. I'm serious. You're going to want to tell your grandkids (provided all this web surfing hasn't rendered you sterile) that you were there when the Donkey really got things rolling.

Hop on, beotches. We're getting this show on the digital road.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Slap Happy

You know who needs to be slapped? Anyone who’s ever been an audience member of “Deal or No Deal.” Seriously, has there ever been a dumber game show, let alone a dumber audience?

I like game shows. I really do. However, in my opinion, a game should require some actual skill to play. “Deal or No Deal” on the other hand, is the adult equivalent of Candy Land—only for dumber people. What’s the prerequisite for contestants? Can they identify a number between 1 and 25 (or however many cases there are up there)? That’s it. So, basically anyone ages 3 and up is eligible to play. Like I said, just like Candy Land.

So, why are the audience members dumber than the contestants? Well, first of all, they’re there voluntarily with no chance of winning any money. Second of all, the only thing they do is clap incessantly when a contestant picks a briefcase.

Howie Mandel: “I need you to pick out two briefcases.”

Contestant: “Number 5, because that’s the number of times I threw up backstage before the show started.”

Audience: [Non-stop applauding]

Contestant: “Number 3, because that’s how many functional nipples my wife has.”

Audience: [Renews their applauding]

And on. And on. And on. Until I want to break stuff.

Why are they applauding? If someone does something amazing, I’ll clap. I’m not THAT much of an asshole. But, I’m sorry, picking a number at random isn’t applause-worthy. And, clapping for that crap, is just slap-worthy.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The kind of stuff I wonder about:

Who came up with the parody song, “Jingle Bells, Batman Smells”? Seriously, is there any guy under the age of 40 who doesn’t instantly think of “Batman Smells” whenever that song breaks out in December? I did a quick Internet search, but I couldn’t find anything on the origins of this song. It’s like it spontaneously broke out in our collective conscience several decades ago. I don't think it started on the campy T.V. show of the 60s, but I could very well be wrong. Did it appear in a Batman comic first? It sounds like something the Joker would sing. If he was drunk.

I was recently reading a book by a British author set in England and a kid in that book was singing a variation of “Jingle Bells, Batman Smells.” I find that amazing. A parody song that’s known by all English-speaking children on both sides of the Atlantic.

So, I want to know. Where did this song come from? Who started it? Don’t get me wrong, it’s brilliant in its content and keeping with the tempo of the song. I’ve just got some questions. Why Batman? Of all the people and/or things that could smell, why Batman? Why?

I’ve always been a Marvel Comics guy but all things considered, Batman is pretty badass. Even with all his badassness, I don’t think he would smell. Remember, he’s multi-millionaire Bruce Wayne by day, so I’m sure he’s got some pretty good hygiene. If you were to choose a superhero to smell, I’d go with either Aquaman and his funkalicious fish stank, or the Flash. Why Flash? Well, he’s always running, so I’m pretty sure he’s always sweating, too. One of these guys should be the one that smells. Not Batman

Thursday, July 12, 2007

You know who I’m surprised still has a job? Well, besides me. Paul Harvey, that’s who.

How can he still be gainfully employed on the radio? Have you ever listened to his broadcasts? I have the unfortunate pleasure of being bombarded by his “news” reports during my five-minute commute to work in the mornings. I’ll pull into the parking lot around 8:30 and sure as shit, this geriatric tripe-slinger is making yet another assault on the airwaves.

Who listens to this crap willingly? Does he have any fans out there? I’d give you an example of his feckless babble, but it’s hard to get the full effect without his patented pauses between random syllables. Screw it, I’ll try:

“Good Morning Americans. Chevrolet has started production on a new line of transportation. These ‘cars’ as they’re being called, require no cranking to get started and use keys to open doors and trunks. [Insert random nonsense]. Now page 2. Jeannie Pulaski of Cleveland writes in, ‘Citrocal has done more for my bone strength than my usual morning glass of crushed lime and powdered milk could ever do. Thank you Citrocal.’ I saw a movie the other night. It was nothing but a bag of popcorn popping for 3 minutes. Someone told me it was a microwave and not a movie screen. Then I fell asleep on the can. A bank robber was caught over the weekend after he wrote his hold-up note on the back side of his grocery list. Police apprehended him between the dairy and canned soup sections of the store. And, now you know . . . [abnormally long pause which makes me pray that this is the final grand mal that does him in] . . . the rest of the story.”

I swear, I feel like he’s having mini-strokes between the words in his segments. The guy gets less than10 minutes of air time every weekday, you’d think he’d be a little more polished with his broadcasts. But no, it’s like listening to a senile octogenarian paraphrasing random articles from USA Today and pausing every 3 seconds to open up another piece of hard candy.

And, how can it be news when a quarter of his segment is an advertisement for Citrocal, Oreck, Bose, or whatever he’s shilling? And, to top it all off, he gets paid more for his 5-minute segment than I get paid in a year.

Here’s the funny thing, though. On his website, it says “Paul Harvey, The Voice of the New Millennium.” Seriously? This is the voice that will define the years 2000–3000?

Lord help us all.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

For a while, I thought my car was a lesbian. It turns out, it was just a former Duke University basketball player.

It’s going to take a while, but let me explain. I read an article a while back that stated over 50% of all people name their cars. I’ve always been one of those people. That is, until I purchased a 1999 Toyota 4Runner SR5 almost two years ago.

I wanted to name it, I really did. It’s just that nothing seemed to fit. Sure, I could have gone with the “4Skinner” if I wanted to be obvious and gross (which I usually am). But, this car was different. It was the kind of car I always wanted.

The 4Runner is my fourth car ever. When I turned 16, I shared with my older sister a white, 1979 Chevy Malibu Classic with a powder blue interior. It was inherited from my grandparents when they upgraded. Almost immediately, it became known as “The Spooge-mobile.” I’d like to say I was responsible for that nickname, but alas, it was never meant to be. It earned its name when my friend Elmo snuck into it one summer night with his girlfriend as it was parked outside my front lawn. His amazing derring-do went unnoticed by my father who at one point walked within 10 feet of the car. The name, and apparently the mess, stuck.

When I turned 20, I shared another car with my two younger brothers—a 1986 gold Chevy Celebrity, also inherited from my grandparents. Immediately, I dubbed it “The Golden Shower.” The name stuck and when I sold it to my friend, Big Ter of All You Need to Know, he even provided it with the license plate AU SHWR1. Hilarious.

When I turned 25, I bought my first new car, a green 1996 Toyota Camry. I liked the car, but I never loved it. At the time, I wasn’t sure where I was going with my life, so I wanted something safe and reliable with decent mileage in case I had to commute. And, commute I did, racking up over 27,000 miles in the first year. It was a workhorse, but the 4-cylinder engine lacked the horsepower to really be a horse. Hence, it became “The Green Donkey.” The name never seemed right, kind of like the car never seemed quite right. Everything made sense, but it didn’t inspire greatness.

So, 9 years later, I bought the 4Runner because I always wanted an SUV. With about a 2 mile commute, I figured the gas prices wouldn’t kill me and bought a flawless truck with less than 50,000 miles on it. I loved it. Still do, in fact. But, I couldn’t get a sense of who the car wanted to be.

Was it a boy or a girl? I couldn’t even tell you. Sure, it had the rugged abilities of a manly man. But, I could tell that it had been pampered immensely in its previous life. It gave off that weird she-male vibe which eventually led me to believe it was a lesbian. However, since it never really set off my gay-dar, I figured it had to be something else. So, I made it my mission to wait the naming out.

One of my brothers has the perfect name for his car. He’s got a 1998 or so Honda Civic with about 175,000 miles on it—The Ronald Colman. Here’s the story behind it. My brother loves the movie “A River Runs through it” and there’s a great scene in there where an uncle casually mentions that “People say I look like Ronald Colman.” If you’re not paying attention, you’ll miss it. Now, even before I knew who Ronald Colman was, I was sure this fat, older uncle looked nothing like the guy. But, it’s the way he nods his head incessantly at everyone in the group as he says it, utterly believing it’s true that just kills me. Fifteen years after watching that movie my brother and I can tell each other “People say I look like Ronald Colman” and start giggling like little school girls.

I wanted a name like Ronald Colman for my 4Runner. Something only my brothers and I would find funny. Then, it dawned on me. In the 80s, we had a basketball hoop attached to our garage, 8-1/2 feet up. As teenagers, we loved having the ability to dunk on something besides a Nerf hoop or an old tub of Baskin Robbins Ice Cream nailed to the wall. Inspired by an emerging Air Jordan, we did 180s and 360s and windmills and anything of his we could possible imitate. As we became bigger Bulls fans, we started emulating all the players from that team. My favorite to emulate was none other than number 20, Eugene Lavon Banks.

Gene Banks wasn’t anything special as a player. He averaged a modest 10 points and 5 rebounds over a two-year stint with the Bulls. He wasn’t a great leaper or a tenacious defender. He wasn’t anything much except for the owner of the ugliest bank shot I’d ever seen. He’d be working in the post, spin free towards the middle of the lane and throw that ball hard off the glass. Half the time, it looked like he was trying to shoot the ball through the backboard. It would carom awkwardly off the iron and nearly concuss anyone who tried to grab it.

One day while goofing around with my brothers in the driveway, I attacked the hoop with reckless abandon. As I split the double-team of my younger siblings and soared towards the hoop, instead of yelling, “Jordan!” and hammering down a ferocious slam, I chose to yell, “Gene Banks!” and threw the ball off the backboard as hard as I could. As the ball went flying over the fence and into the neighbor’s yard, the only sound we could hear was each other laughing.

“That’s totally Gene Banks,” my brother said to me.

Even at the ages of 15, 13, and 11, we knew a disastrous bank shot when we saw one. For years, during any pickup game, I would pull out the imitation and, nine times out of ten, we’d have to stop the game to compose ourselves afterwards.

Now, the three of us are spread across three different time zones. We haven’t had a pickup game in well over a decade. The net is down off my parent’s garage. But, I still have the Gene Banks imitation in my back pocket for whenever I need it. And now, I have a car that makes me remember summer evenings in the 80s.

Welcome home, Gene Banks. I’ve missed you.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Here's one good reason to work in an office: You get to hear things you might never hear again.

For example, here's something I overheard today.

"Did you just sneeze? It sounded like someone ran over a dog."