Rants

Thanksgiving, the Incredible Shrinking Holiday

Thanksgiving, the Incredible Shrinking Holiday

Rants
For those not familiar with the term Christmas Creep -- and no, I'm not referring to the skeevy dude dressed as Santa Claus at the mall who looks way too excited to have little kids sitting on his lap -- it refers to the ever-widening window stores use to stock their shelves with gift items and bombard us with advertisements. While some people still debate whether or not climate change is a real thing, there can be no debate that Santa and his multi-billion dollar operation have inched further and further outside the traditionally defined Christmas shopping season barrier of Black Friday. It has become more and more common to see Christmas store displays and ads not only well before Thanksgiving, but now just after Halloween. Hell, I even spotted displays in places like Home Depot and L...
Is There a Proper Way to Appreciate Nostalgia?

Is There a Proper Way to Appreciate Nostalgia?

Rants
"'Remember when' is the lowest form of conversation." -- Tony Soprano Anyone reading this site or my various social media outlets -- Like my Facebook page today! -- could figure out in three seconds that I trade largely in the past. And often, a past that occurred many years before I was born. In other words, my internet calling card is nostalgia. And I'm far from alone. If the multitude of websites, books, TV shows, and movies that are either informed or dominated by our shared pop culture heritage are any indication, people love thinking about and looking at things that happened a long time ago. If nostalgia were an actual industry -- and time spent wading in it were measurable in dollars -- it would probably rank somewhere just behind pharmaceuticals or tourism in America. ...
I come not to bury jazz, but to praise it

I come not to bury jazz, but to praise it

Music, Rants
I might as well offer my two cents on Terry Teachout's recent editorial for the Wall Street Journal, "Can Jazz Be Saved?", since so many others already have.  In it, Teachout beats the same funeral drum that countless other jazz pundits have for decades - namely that the already small audience for jazz is shrinking alarmingly fast.  He even offers as evidence some results from a recent survey by the National Endowment for the Arts. The survey results Teachout extracts present a gloomy picture for jazz lovers indeed- not only is attendance down, but the median age for jazz fans is fast approaching AARP territory (from 29 in 1982 to 46 in 2008).  He makes the case that jazz, in terms of its audience, is becoming the next version of classical music. This reminds me of the old joke about
Now accepting donations for a DirecTV subscription

Now accepting donations for a DirecTV subscription

Rants, Sports
I'm not sure how things work outside the New York City television market, but we have this annoyingly restrictive setup when it comes to NFL broadcasts.  Whether or not you like the Jets or Giants, they're almost always the only games you get to watch on Sunday afternoon.  And it usually works out that the Jets game is on at 1, then the Giants at 4.  There are no other games broadcast opposite them, and the networks pretty much never cut away to another game even if it's a blowout. What this means is that if you don't feel like a) going to a bar or b) coughing up some big bucks for DirecTV and the NFL Sunday Ticket package, you're pretty much screwed.  The situation got a little better for me when I moved to central Jersey about 4 years ago, as I'm now also in the Philly market and get
Sharon Stone: Idiot of the week

Sharon Stone: Idiot of the week

Rants
I know it's only Thursday, but I feel pretty confident about this selection. You see, it seems Ms. Stone caused a bit of a brouhaha with her comments about the recent earthquake in China. She displayed her tact and political acumen when she uttered the following pearl of wisdom: "I'm not happy about the way the Chinese are treating the Tibetans because I don't think anyone should be unkind to anyone else...And then all this earthquake and all this stuff happened, and I thought, is that karma - when you're not nice that the bad things happen to you?" No dipshit, the earthquake (and resulting deaths of almost 70,000 Chinese so far) is not karma. It's a tragic geological event that has impacted a whole lot of people who have absolutely nothing to do with the treatment of Tibet by the Chines...
More mysteries of the universe

More mysteries of the universe

Rants
Would it unconstitutional to introduce capital punishment for anyone who posts a variation of "First!" to start a comment thread? How about for people who use the words "preggo" or "preggers"? Is there a bigger oxymoron than Ticketmaster's "convenience charge"? For whom is it convenient to spend 8-10 bucks to get a piece of paper printed? Why is it that most reality shows are more obviously scripted than non-reality shows? As far as I can remember, the only true "reality" show I have ever seen is COPS. How did drivers ever find their way around before the advent of portable GPS devices? What did people say instead of "drinking the Kool-Aid" before Jonestown? WTF is wrong with Carrot Top? At what point does a human being look at himself in the mirror and decide this is a ...
Mixed (message) martial arts

Mixed (message) martial arts

Rants, Sports, TV & Radio
CBS recently announced that they will begin airing cage fighting (aka mixed martial arts or MMA) this spring. In reading the article, I was reminded of something I see quite often whenever advocates of the sport defend it - they try to play up the strategy aspect of MMA and how it does actually prohibit a lot of nastiness such as gouging eyes or striking groins. Then they actually try to pass MMA off as some kind of beautiful ritual - in the case of this article, the CEO of an MMA promotion company said, "This is a sport of highly trained, highly talented ... world-class athletes," he said. "It is a chess match when these guys get in there and fight, when you understand exactly what they're doing. It's like a beautiful dance." OK, I'll grant that most of the MMA participants are actual...
Sweaty feet = profits

Sweaty feet = profits

Advertising, Rants
Just when I thought I had seen all the ways unscrupulous advertisers could come up with to separate idiots from their money, along come detoxifying foot pads. If you haven't yet seen any of the commercials for these things, they are a hoot. Here's a typical ad for this miracle product: All the ads pretty much employ the same selling tactics and points, which are summarized thusly: Scare the customer. Inform the target that the world is an icky place, full of dangerous chemicals and substances. Once you've frightened them a little bit you've created in their minds a need for a solution. "What's that you say? The level of cancer-causing Monstronium particles has increased 400% in the last decade? Help me!" Once you've convinced the target of the dangers of these known (an...
Golf and race

Golf and race

Rants, Sports
To absolutely no one's surprise, Dave Seanor (the editor of Golfweek magazine who approved a recent cover featuring a noose) was canned. The firing made sense for a very basic reason that had nothing to do with racism - Seanor made a ham-fisted effort at generating buzz for his magazine, and any person with an ounce of common sense could have predicted the shitstorm that would follow its publication. Pissing off readers (and by association your advertisers) is career suicide in the newspaper/magazine world. But beyond the colossal bad taste exhibited by Seanor, there was a real missed opportunity here. While the actual story accompanying the noose image focused almost exclusively on a single comment made by Golf Channel announcer Kelly Tilghman, it missed the bigger picture. And tha...