Thursday, December 27, 2012

Spam email of the week

There is a lady at my work who is not very good at email. That seems like a weird thing to say since email is not a thing that a requires a certain skill set. But she is really not good at it. She is not very computer savvy in general, and is not all too concerned about adapting. For her, the fax machine was the last frontier of modern technology. She faxes everything, and is rather proud that she knows her way around a fax machine. It's good that she knows a lot about the fax machine since she is pretty much the only one who uses it. She also does not understand that you can create "folders" on your computer, and -- only because one time somebody taught her how to save documents -- she saves everything to her desktop. When she is not in the office, you can view her desktop, which is an absolute clusterblonk of crap files. It would completely cover her desktop image if she knew how to upload a desktop image. Also, if somebody emails her information that she needs to relay to me, she will print out the email and highlight the important part -- with a highlighter -- instead of just forwarding me the email and allowing me to process the information with my brain.

But the real special part is when she sends an email. Because what she does is: she puts everything in the subject header. I'll get an email that's all like:

Subject: Mike,client wants circulation numbers  ,can you send me brakedown by zipcode thnaks ?

So those are cool emails. I was reminded of this awesomeness when I received this week's spam email, the entirety of which appears in the subject header.

Subject: I am Mrs Sonia Wilson from Alaska.I am suffering from a long time illness which i feel has not give me the power to fulfill my heart desires for the poor people.write back for more details. Sonia.

Because subject headers are only one line, I had to scroll across the length of a football field to read this, but it was worth it, obviously. This is not the first email we've discussed whereby someone is sick, thus preventing them from caring for the poor and placing that responsibility on me, user of email. What can I say -- I am a sucker for fake people who are sick and can't take care of the poor, and I feel it my duty to fulfill that obligation by making fun of this fake person on a blog because this is a terrible scam and waste of everyone's time. It's also important to note that Sonia is SO sick that she cannot move her mouse past the subject header box. So it's probably herpes.

Mrs. Sonia Wilson requests that I write back for more details, but I'm pretty sure I have all the details I need, which are:

- from Alaska (very important)
- long illness (herpes, probs)
- lacking power to fulfill hearts desires

To eliminate a lot of needless correspondence, I have already sent Sonia my credit card information, which she can use to help "the poor people." I'm not sure which poor people, exactly, Sonia plans to help with my money, but I am sure she will use proper judgment. Maybe "the poor people" in Alaska? Like the Ice Road Truckers guys? Are they poor? Probably if they have to do that, right? Is that show even still on?

Get well, Sonia!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Because you care: the year in our favorite music




We here at So, Do You Like … Stuff?—when we’re not farting around, and sometimes when we ARE farting around—like to listen to music. We think it’s swell! For that reason and zero others, including BECAUSE YOU CARE, here are our 10 favorite albums of 2012, in descending order so as to add to the drama:

Band of Horses, Mirage Rock
J/k that album is terrible. Seriously, what happened to those guys?

No. 10: Family of the Year, Loma Vista
Can venture into corny and poppy at times, but I like it.

No. 9: Wild Nothing, Nocturne/Diiv, Oshin
I don’t like ties but I couldn’t decide. HIPSTER MESH.

No. 8: Two Door Cinema Club, Beacon
I’m somewhat averse to describing albums as “fun”—why should music be fun? It should be dark, weird, and introspective—but darn if this album is not.

No. 7:  Father John Misty, Fear Fun
No doubt the funniest, most honest, most fantastic album from a complete degenerate this year. I think “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” is the song of the year.

Looking good, Father John!

No. 6: The Shins, Port of Morrow
My goal in life is to meet sometime who doesn't like The Shins.

No. 5: Tame Impala, Lonerism
It feels like maybe this is the surprise album of the year. It sure surprised the heck out of me.

No. 4: Mesita, The Coyotes
I am very confused as to how this album has flown so under the radar. It’s really great.

No. 3: Grizzly Bear, Shields
Breakout year.

No. 2: Beach House, Bloom
Greatest band in existence puts out album that almost outdoes previous album, which is utterly unoutdoable.

No. 1: Frank Ocean: Channel Orange
If you’re not down with Frank Ocean, we can’t be friends. We just can’t.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Spam email of the week

Subject: Alert! Your email will be blacklisted soon.

So guys, it turns out I have been the problem all along. I AM THE SPAM. How did this happen? I have no idea, but let's find out more about my spamness from this email that is totally not spam, but the spam police.

Dear  %email%,

Dear Spacebar Spacebar PercentageemailPercentageComma is the way this salutation reads in words. The spam police are hilarious. They just get it, ya' know?

We received complaints about spam coming from your network.

OH SNAP WHO BE SNITCHIN'????????????

Spam bots are sending bulk emails, for the security reasons your email will be blacklisted.

Listen, the three spam bots we employ here have been told repeatedly to NOT send bulk emails or they risk termination. As their supervisor I will come to their defense here -- I do not believe these accusations. Turning to spam bots ... But so help me God if you three betray my trust after I put my neck out on the line ...

To avoid blacklisting please check your Sent folder for unknown emails

I did, no worries. WHEW. "It wasn't me." -- Shaggy. Please don't blacklist me, thus preventing me from getting emails like this, where I am threatened to be blacklisted. Is there anything else I can do to prove my innocence?

and prove that you are human by entering this code 9999 here .

Will typing 9999 into a web link really prove that I am human? Why don't I just describe a sunset? Or attach a picture of my genitals/butt? (Being able to describe sunsets and having genitals and butts are really, when you think about it, the only differences between us and the spam bots.)

Your email will be recorded and spam flag will be removed. No other data will be collected.

I desperately searched the Internet for almost three minutes in the hope that someone out there had Photoshopped a picture of spam -- the nonmeat product -- onto a flag. But alas. Please accept the fact that I looked for this as a sort of joke re: spam flag. Also, it's a relief to know that no other data will be collected after I confirm my human existence. I was willing to provide SS#, CC#s, etc. You know what? Maybe I'll do that anyway, just to be safe.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Holiday special review: ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’

This month we are reviewing cartoon Christmas television specials for some reason.

There are some Christmas specials that do not boast the same notoriety as others, yet remain close to our hearts for personal reasons. “Twas the Night Before Christmas” is mine. I like it because I remember watching it as a kid—that is the only requirement of my positive Christmas nostalgia, that I watched it on television—and whenever I bring it up in conversation, which is more often than I’d like to admit, no one has any idea what I’m talking about.

“Twas the Night Before Christmas” is a 1974 animated special based on the famous 1823 poem by whoever wrote that. Because that poem is relatively short and succinct and unable to sustain 22 minutes of high-flying cartoon action, liberties are taken. The poem, for example, doesn’t explore the strong dynamic between a human family and mouse family that so often prefaces Christmas Eve.

The special begins with everyone in town receiving their letters to Santa back from the post office. Context clues indicate this happens well before Christmas, so I guess the people and mice in this town send their Christmas letters out in spring, just to be safe. Everyone is confused as to why Santa has rejected their letters. Members of a local mouse family check the newspaper—the human newspaper, it's uncertain whether the mice have their own source of media—and discover someone has written a letter to the editor on the town’s behalf claiming Santa a fraud. Father Mouse soon deduces who wrote the letter—his book-smart mouse son and open Santa skeptic, Alfred. Alfred wears a sweater with a big “M” on it that I can only assume stands for “mouse” and not “Alfred.”

Meanwhile, Joshua, a human father and clockmaker, has an idea. He will make a giant clock for the town which, when it strikes midnight on Christmas Eve, will play a very pleasant Christmas song that will convince Santa to return to their town. “Santa hates us, let’s build him a clock,” is a curious premise, but everyone on city council is convinced by the song’s beauty. City council includes a bumbling, stuttering, clueless mayor and several other councilmembers who are literally sleeping during this meeting about the clock. City councils rarely come across well in these Christmas cartoons, and I fear the producers may be editorializing.

Father Mouse shows his son Alfred the harm his disbelief has caused everyone, which includes a scene in which the town’s best artist throws his portrait of Santa Claus into the ocean at sunset. Surely we'd all like to dramatically throw our hopes and dreams into the ocean from time to time, but one can only hope in this case that a dolphin didn't choke and die on the construction paper. Alfred comes around thanks in large part to the clock Joshua has made—proving that even an intelligent adult believes in Santa—which he then breaks by accident, ruining the presentation.

                                                           Mice + clocks = Christmas

Joshua is deemed a failure, all hope seems lost for Santa’s return, and Alfred has now ruined Christmas twice. Cue the greatest Christmas special song ever made, “Even a Miracle Needs a Hand.” If you think that title is great, you need to hear the song, which will happily remain in your head for life. Seriously, if you’re not inspired by this song you don’t have a soul, and that’s a fact.

Alfred decides to correct his mistake by fixing the clock, which he feels he can do on account of his extreme nerdiness. Christmas Eve night, the clock strikes midnight and nothing happens. Everyone is sad. But wait! The clock begins to play the song, convincing Santa to reverse course in midair and visit the town. It turned out this miracle just needed a ha—I can’t even. I am going to cry just thinking about it. “Twas the Night Before Christmas” gets a perfect 10 Christmas stars.

Thus concludes our string of Christmas special reviews, in which I have written about several decades-old children’s cartoons for your local newspaper. I hope you have enjoyed/tolerated this endeavor, but either way—Merry Christmas!

This column appears in the 12/20 issue of The Glendale Star and the 12/21 issue of the Peoria Times.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Spam email of the week

Subject: You’ve just been nominated as a Top Doctor!

See that, MOM?

Hi Dr. Dahlin,

I am not a doctor and that is not my last name. But go on.

I’m extremely excited to share that you’ve just been nominated and have an opportunity to win our Top Doctor competition!

Cool! I hope I don't have to do something gross during this competition, like touch my eyeball, or perform surgery. Will this competition be on the CW Network or something, so I can focus more on drinking and fighting than doing doctor things?

NEXT TIME on "America's Next Top Doctor ..."

Host, Mario Lopez: Okay fellow doctors, today is a very important challenge -- Cardiothoracic surgery!

Juanita: I KNOW you just didn't say I look fat in my scrubs!

Me: I SAID you look UGZZ in your scrubs ... 'cause it rhymes, B!%@#! Throw wine glass across the room.

Me: GET HER OFF ME, GET THIS B!%@# OFF ME! I HAVE A PHD IN MEDICALNESS!


Mario Lopez: Unfortunately, you are NOT America's Next Top Doctor. Please hand in your scalpel.

The point is, I am not a doctor. I can barely put a mostly pre-assembled small table together, much less human parts. Nevertheless, I accept the nomination.

This is great news, because you can now gain powerful recognition for your expertise in front of millions of patients and colleagues everywhere.

My expertise at how not to be a doctor is so extensive and far-reaching, I'm not exactly sure where to start. If I had to, I guess, whittle these areas of expertise down to just a few, for the purposes of gaining recognition from millions, I think they would be as follows:

-Guessing the exact time without looking at a clock (within like 5 minutes, CONSISTENTLY)
-Baseball cards ('86-91)
-Knowing where everything is most things are some things are in Safeway

I plan on taking an hour-long video of me doing these things, and then uploading it to some doctor website so I can win this dang competition. I see no other way.

To win one of our Top Doctor awards, simply verify your profile today.

Oh. I  just have to verify my profile on a website? A website that already thinks I am a doctor for some unknown reason? CONFIRM, CLICK. Being a doctor is a mad easy! I guess what they say in the industry (doctors) is true: "It's not being a doctor that's difficult, it's a staying a doctor. Also when you have to touch an old person's butt, which is gross." -- Dr. Dre

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Holiday special review: ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’

This month we are reviewing classic and not-so-classic holiday television specials.

Before I even begin here, I just want to express how much I have always appreciated “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” When I was, say, 8 or 9, Hess gas stations began selling the special on VHS—“Buy 10 gallons of Hess gas and get ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ for only $14.99!” or something; made sense at the time—and I made my mom go to Hess to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime deal. That tape, along with Michael Jordan’s “Come Fly With Me,” remains one of the most precious VHS items I have ever owned. And maybe my wedding video*, I guess.

My point is that I recognize “A Charlie Brown Christmas” as classic, a well-deserved designation.

But here’s the thing with that special, and this goes for Peanuts in general—it doesn’t really age well. This, to me, is how Charlie Brown cartoons have been absorbed by people of my generation: You love them as kid, defend them to the death, you go away to college, come back as an adult and try to watch Peanuts specials again for nostalgic reasons and are like, “What the … ? What is going on? Why is this Snoopy World War II fighter pilot sequence lasting 10 minutes? Why is everyone so mean to Charlie Brown? I am confused and uncomfortable.”

Now, when I speak of how “A Charlie Brown Christmas” has aged, I’m not talking about the animation, which is terrible. The scene in which Lucy is the psychiatrist and the sign on her booth goes from “The doctor is real in” to “The doctor real in is” is a quirk of 1960s graphic limitations/laziness, although NEITHER ONE MAKES SENSE. But things like that and the off-color pigmentations actually add to the special’s endearing quality. Where it really doesn’t age well—and maybe this is just me—is the language.

HOW MUCH FOR A GRAMMAR DOCTOR?

We watched “A Charlie Brown Christmas” with our 3-year-old daughter this year. I thought, “This will be a great way to pass down this Christmas television special classic to a new generation.” I was, as per usual, wrong. Almost right off the bat the s-bomb is dropped—stupid. “Stupid” is a word we don’t say in our house, but it is definitely a word that is totally cool on whatever planet Charlie Brown and friends exist. And “stupid” is always hurled as a personal insult, not merely a description of something intangible. Sample (not actual, but close) quote: “You’re so stupid, Charlie Brown! Why are you so stupid? Your parents must be stupid. Get out of here, you stupid blockhead!”

The experience of watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas” as a family was like this: they’d drop the s-bomb, we’d cringe, our daughter would turn to us and say, “We don’t say stupid,” we’d reassure her that she was exactly right, she would continue to watch the TV with a look on her face that said, “I am confused as to whether my parents support this show they have plopped me in front of,” repeat process.

And that’s besides the general plot device that everyone is just super-mean to Charlie Brown for no apparent reason, which causes him to be an 8-year-old manic depressive. Of course, the borderline offensive language is balanced out by the equally non-PC nature of Linus’ classic explanation of the true meaning of Christmas. Sure, they drop the s-bomb a lot, but while many television specials claim to capture the true meaning of Christmas, by simply quoting the biblical account of Christ's birth, this is arguably the only holiday special that truly does. “A Charlie Brown Christmas” doesn’t get green lit in today's world -- less because of "stupid" than for quoting Scripture -- which is probably why people of my generation hold it so dearly to our hearts.

Unfortunately for me, a father, it’s a special I cannot watch again with my daughter until she is old enough to understand that 1960s cartoon characters insulted the weak link, further spiraling him into a depressed state, until they felt enough remorse to decorate his tree. For that reason, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” gets five-out-of-ten Christmas stars. I know, I am stupid.

*I am so old our wedding was recorded on VHS. DVD, too, but still.

This column appears in the 12/13 issue of The Glendale Star and the 12/14 issue of the Peoria Times.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Spam email of the week

Subject: Rocket Your Christmas Sales

This is clever verbiage. "Rocket" your Christmas sales, like a Christmas rocket. You know, from the timeless tale, "Christmas Rocket," in which a rocket gets lost in space and almost misses Christmas but is safely brought back to Houston when Santa's sleigh also gets lost in space and they work together and learn about teamwork. I made that all up but it actually sounds pretty good and is totally a holiday special I would watch every year. Somebody make that and give me money for it, thnx.

Rocket Your Christmas Sales

OKAY BUT HOW??

If you want to promote Message Broadcaster this Christmas

I do! What is Message Broadcaster? When is Christmas?

then a good marketing list is crucial.

You're preaching to the choir, junk email. In fact, I asked Santa for a "good marketing list" for Christmas this year, and I am confident that request adequately represents the true meaning of Christmas. He better find a way to email that shizz though because if I get an actual physical list that is so lame.

With Message Broadcaster you can market Message Broadcaster to over 11 million U.S. businesses with ease.

Say that again ...

With Message Broadcaster you can market Message Broadcaster to over 11 million U.S. businesses with ease.

Are you telling me ... wait - one more time ...

With Message Broadcaster you can market Message Broadcaster to over 11 million U.S. businesses with ease.

So let me get this straight. With Message Broadcaster I can market Message Broadcaster? I can market my medium WITH my medium? That is killing 12 birds with one stone. The twelve birds of Christmas. All dead. Outstanding. I am very much looking forward to sending out a generic email to 11 million businesses talking about God knows what and that each business will immediately delete or post to their company blog whereby they make fun of junk email.

We know times are hard for many businesses so we have decided to do something to help.

You know, THAT'S what I'm talking about. It's about time a terrible spam email recognized the true meaning of Christmas and decided to give something back. Times are tough. For example, many businesses on the east coast were badly damaged or destroyed altogether thanks to Hurricane Sandy. Also the economy in general is not helping. It's a struggle for many businesses just to get off the ground, and people who thought they were realizing their dream when they proudly opened their doors were left to watch with great sadness less than a year later when it became evident their dream had failed for reasons that transcended their own valiant effort. All of these factors and more make it heartwarming to know that this email, from John Watkins (info@message-broadcaster.com), is going to do its part to help.

We're giving you unlimited number of marketing lists from our UK and U.S. database for just $5.

Wow, that is just ... the generosity of that action is beyond words. Here, take my five dollars ... wait, you know what? Make it six. No - Five fifty. Times are hard. And hey, I don't even need the list. Actually, give me the list. I have a business to run here. (I don't.)

To make the process even easier we have added our service to fiverr.com

ARE YOU EVEN SERIOUS RIGHT NOW? Fiverr.com??? This is nothing short of a Christmas miracle! I feel like the little boy from A Christmas Carol who is shocked when he walks past Ebeneezer Scrooge's house and is told from the window, "Boy, go buy the biggest turkey at the butcher, and to make the process even easier, order it at fiverr.com!"

where you can order with all the safeguards of the fiverr buying process.

"Please, send us your money with the peace of mind that, probably, no one will steal your identity. It's the least we can do." -- John Watkins, non-person

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Holiday special review: ‘A Garfield Christmas’

During the month leading up to Christmas, Mike will review popular or not-so-popular holiday specials. This review appears in 12/6 The Glendale Star and the 12/7 Peoria Times.


When I was a kid I took out “Garfield Goes Camping” from the library. I suppose the fact that I only rented books based on comic strips sort of defeated the purpose of going to the library, but at least I was reading. Anyway, apparently I loved the book so much that I never returned it, and out of fear of drastic repercussions never returned to the library. Was it worth it? It was worth it.

Because Garfield was awesome. An obese, sarcastic cat that loves lasagna? That type of genius comes along only once in a generation, and I consider it an honor and privilege that the accompanying televised cartoon existed during the prime of my childhood.  That popular cartoon was parlayed into a 1987 special, “A Garfield Christmas.”

The special begins as all great specials do—with a dream. Garfield is dreaming that it is Christmas morning and he is about to eats loads of lasagna, and one of his gifts is a mind-reading robot Santa Claus that grants all of his wishes. Modern science has yet to reveal what cats actually dream about, but I imagine that is pretty close. Jon, Garfield’s owner, wakes Garfield up to inform him it is Christmas Eve and they’ll be spending the holiday at his family’s farmhouse. ROAD TRIP.

As a child watching this for the first time, it was comforting to know that Jon actually had a family and was not just an asexual weirdo who lived alone except for a slobbering dog and a cat that he fed lasagna. It turns out that Jon’s family is a bunch of country bumpkins, especially his brother Doc Boy, who wears overalls and is bald and still lives at home. Compared to Doc Boy, Jon really made it in life by moving out to suburbia and settling down with his dog and cat.

Garfield, used to that suburban living, is worried he’ll be bored out in the country, a classic cat-out-of-water situation. That changes when he meets Jon’s grandma, with whom he shares a sense of sarcasm and dry wit. (Although it remains uncertain whether or not humans such as Jon and his grandmother can hear Garfield’s thoughts, one of life’s eternal mysteries.) They bond enough for her to reveal to Garfield that she misses her deceased husband, especially around the holidays. If you thought you’d avoid the underlying themes of death and loss during this cartoon Christmas special about a fat orange cat, you are mistaken, although few cats handle the subject with as much aplomb as Garfield.

Garfield senses that Odie, the dog, is up to something and follows him into the garage, where he discovers a box of letters. Christmas morning, it is revealed that Odie had been building Garfield a back-scratcher, a gift that tears down the emotional wall Garfield had constructed between himself and his dim canine housemate. Garfield then gives Grandma the box of letters which, it turns out, were old love letters from her late husband. I kid you not that this is a genuinely emotional scene. I’ve been known to get a bit misty-eyed before reminding myself I am watching, “A Garfield Christmas.”

So Grandma gets a little closure, Jon and Doc Boy get to indulge in childhood nostalgia, Garfield gets to scratch himself, and everyone discovers the true meaning of Christmas, which is all those things.

“A Garfield Christmas” is a tough one to find, but it should air on ABC Family or something this month. In all honesty, this is one of my all-time favorite Christmas specials—it is genuinely funny and heartfelt, and it features Garfield and music by Lou Rawls … I’m really not sure what else one can ask for. It gets nine out of 10 Christmas stars.

Note: This column appears in the 12/6 issue of The Glendale Star and the 12/7 issue of Peoria Times.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Spam email of the week

We have a lot of fun with these spam email posts around here. And by we I mean I. You probably hate them. That said, I understand the point of most of these spam emails is to steal your identity and/or money and cause irreparable damage to your bank accounts and dignity, which is all well and good. Sometimes, however, these emails are so far out there it's difficult to grasp their purpose.

For example, let's say you are a person interested in, oh I don't know ... obtaining oil from China. That is a pretty big expenditure, I would imagine. You probably have a secretary and assistants and stuff. Much of your business involves strong networking connections, flights across the world, political contacts. You probably know Dick Cheney. Dick Cheney is a contact in your phone. I guess what I'm saying is, you're probably not sitting at your computer waiting for an email to serve as a lead re: getting oil from China.

Or, better yet, say you're me, a person who blogs about nonsense and who only sort of knows where the oil thingee is in his Kia Sportage (under the hood somewhere). And say you get an email like this:

Subject: Oil from China

In all honesty, if someone were to send me barrels of oil from China right now, for free -- regardless of how much this could earn me -- it would be a HUGE burden. I would have nowhere to put them and I wouldn't know the first person to call. I would probably ask my brother-in-law to sell them on ebay, and that can't be legal. I am already stressing out about this and I didn't even agree to anything yet.


Dear sir:
This is Alisa from a manufacturer specializing in producing Chemical raw materials in China. Here are our latest product: silicone oil,  transformer oil ,base oil, used cooking oil.Hope the product can meet your needs.
Any question, do not hesitate to contact me.

Of everything that is terrifyingly bizzare here, the differences in font are the most disturbing to me. Also, USED COOKING OIL? Pretty sure I can get my hands on some grease if need be. And you know what? Should I ever need some grease that I can't manufacture in my own kitchen, you know where I'm going to get it? IN AMERICA. That's where. Not to get all political here, but if we, as a nation, cannot produce decent grease ... I just ... I can't even.

Any question, do not hesitate to contact me.
Waiting for your early reply. 
Best regards
Alisa,
Company: BeijingShengShiTianJiao Chemicals Co.,Ltd
Tel: 0086-0311-67799652
Fax: 0086-0311-67799652
Skype: alisaalisa86756
Mail: Alisa@sstjchem.com     
Website: www.sstjchem.com

The rest of this is par for the course -- the company name, if you separate it into "words," shockingly produces Google results, although the websites it leads to are super weird. One thing of note, however, is that Alisa left her Skype address. I would really enjoy finding Alisa on Skype.

alisaalisa86756: Static-y picture of 425-lb woman in a Snuggie surrounded by parakeets comes up. Uh, hello?

mikekennystuff (not my actual Skype address so don't be botherin' me!): Alisa!

alisaalisa86756: Uh, who ARE you?

mikekennystuff: It's me, sir!

alisaalisa86756: Listen yo, I have no idea who you be, so just stop playin'--

mikekennystuff: Alisa, it's ME. you sent me the awesome email about oil from China ... ? Remember? Used cooking oil? Ring a bell?

alisaalisa86756: Wha--OH snap, you mean that bullsh--I mean, oh yeah, that's me ... what's up? Shoos parakeets away, sits up on couch.

mikekennystuff: Okay, so you said to contact you if I had any questions, aaaand, the more I was thinking about it ... Remember the part where you were like blah, blah, blah, transformer oil? My question is: Is that the type of oil Transformers use, like from the movie?

alisaalisa86756: Is this is a joke, yo? You know I don't have time for this, I'm very busy with ... things.

mikekennystuff: Oh, no! I honestly need to know. Because if it IS, I was thinking about buying a bunch of barrels from you and then reselling them to director Michael Bay at a jacked up rate for when he makes "Transformers 8: Revenge of the Revenge."

alisaalisa86756: For real? Oh yeah, no doubt, transformer oil is what all the Transformers need to survive. They all use it ... uh, Globotron, MegaForce ... John ... ny ... Max ... aTron.

mikekennystuff: Are those the new Transformers? I've never heard of them.

alisaalisa86756: Oh yeah, they be the new ones alright. When you work in the transformer oil industry, you know these things. Just don't tell anyone, okay?

mikekennystuff: You can trust me, Alisa! Can I place my order now?

alisaalisa86756: Oh fo sho! Just lemme get a pen ... YO LISA! GET ME A PEN OR SOMETHIN' RIGHT QUICK.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Holiday special review: ‘Frosty Returns’

During the month leading up to Christmas, Mike will review popular or, more likely, not-so-popular holiday specials. This review appears in 11/29 The Glendale Star and the 11/30 Peoria Times.

“Frosty the Snowman” is a special that contains all the essentials of classic, holiday entertainment: a talking snowman, an evil magician, a girl who can easily take a train to the North Pole with a talking snowman she just met five minutes earlier as long as she's "home for dinner," etc. It’s not really Christmas season until you’ve watched “Frosty,” and this year Christmas season began Nov. 23 on CBS.

Not so classic is “Frosty Returns,” the unnecessary early 90s follow-up to the original that now airs immediately after “Frosty” in an attempt to lure Americans into believing the two are comparable pieces of entertainment. Wikipedia goes out of its way to note “Frosty Returns” is not a sequel, since it was produced by Lorne Michaels (?!) Broadway Video and not Rankin/Bass, the company that produced the original and every great holiday special that has ever existed.

Thankfully the special is still narrated, except this time by Jonathan Winters as opposed to Jimmy Durante. I always appreciated the holiday special narrator because as a child, and also as a 34-year-old man writing about children’s specials, it’s often difficult to follow the complex storylines without a narrator’s assistance. For example, the gap between when Rudolph leaves home to when, in like the next scene, he is an adult, is explained by the talking snowman (not Frosty; a different one) with the umbrella-walking stick who informs us that Rudolph was "growing up."

Anyway, the plot line of the original “Frosty” was pretty simple. Snowman comes to life thanks to a magic hat, he thinks it’s someone’s birthday because he’s kind of an idiot, they march through the streets, then he melts/dies but Santa and the girl save him because they believe in Christmas or whatever. The plot line of “Frosty Returns,” however, is not only inconsistent with its superior predecessor, but it also seems to bizarrely adhere to a left wing agenda.

Drunk off “Roseanne” money, John Goodman provides the voice for Frosty, advancing the snowman’s personality from naïve to grunge-era realistic. An evil character develops a spray that makes snow disappear, earning the praise of the snow-hating townspeople who can't get to their cartoon jobs due to a snowstorm and threatening Frosty’s existence. Oh no I hope they can save Frosty aga—zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

By the way, "Frosty Returns" doesn't only rip off the original - it seems to "borrow" from other cartoons as well. For example, there is a kid in this movie who is like the town nerd or something and looks like he was pulled off the set of Peanuts. Also, he doesn't have eyes, which is distracting.



Isn't this lady from a comic strip? Or those birthday cards with the sarcastic remarks about "I am so old I don't have sex anymore and neither do you?"


Oh, a balding cartoon villain with an ugly cat? That's original.


If you’re thinking that an aerosol spray that gets rid of snow would be environmentally unsafe, you are not alone. According to Wikipedia, When one of the members of the town council voices concern about the environmental impact of the untested product, Mr. Twitchell has her dropped through a trapdoor. Oh, councilwoman so-and-so just fell through a trap door, I guess this topic is closed, is how everybody reacts.

Since I am a hippie vegetarian, I have no problem with environmentalism, but I don’t want it in my Christmas specials. All I want is for a person or animal to discover the true meaning of Christmas; I don’t want to learn about global warming. More disturbing, however, is that “Frosty Returns” seems to ignore Christmas altogether. Neither Santa nor Jesus even makes an appearance (I’ll forgive the latter) and the major plot device is not Christmas itself but the “Winter Carnival,” a pagan ceremony where virgins are sacrificed (not true—but who really knows?).

By expanding upon a beloved Christmas tale that needed no expanding upon, “Frosty Returns” reminds us that the most important thing of all is to limit our carbon imprint so that our grandchildren can continue to celebrate this special holiday we call winter. I give it zero Christmas stars.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Spam email of the week

Subject: RE:Re:1Promotional giftsStage lighting Downtown lights up with Glendale Glitters spectacular ...

This email is regarding something regarding something. That something is Glendale Glitters, a holiday celebration in Glendale, the city where I work. The extent of my role in Glendale Glitters is that I have attended it with my family a few times. Oh, also I am in charge of the lighting for the event, I guess?

Hi Manager,

Stop. You had me at "Hi Manager." It's like this email is speaking directly to me, as if it knows everything about me, all of my inner secrets, hopes, dreams, wishes, fears, aspirations, my name ...

Good day. I am Doris from Flystar Lighting Co., Ltd.

Hi Doris. I am Manager from Company That Has Nothing To Do With What You Are Proposing.

We specialize in stage lighting production with high quality & very competitive price.

This is very relevant to me, Doris. I want to hear more, as I am very familiar with stage lighting and electricity in general and how it works. I know that to get electricity you put the wires into the socket holes or whatever and then the lights go on because of the science.

We have been deal with BKL company for 5 years.

I don't know what that means. Is that impressive? I feel somewhat insufficient for not knowing all the
acronyms for the big lighting production companies out there. But here's something I do know: Five years is a very, very, very long time. If I am going to commit to a lighting production company -- and I'm not because it's not what I do and I have no idea what is happening right now -- I want to go with one that has five years experience deal(ing) with a different company I am equally unfamiliar with.

Hope to be one of your lighting supplier in the nearly future.

Listen, Doris, I'll make you a deal. If I ever enter the field of stage lighting production, I promise that you will be like the third or fourth "person" I call -- I want to explore other options first -- provided that, in the meantime, you learn how to communicate like someone who wasn't dropped on earth three seconds ago.

Write me back  please, Let's talk more in details.

See that what's I'm talking about. You really need to fix that.

As if this email wasn't convincing enough, Doris ends with a fantastic color picture featuring the big shots (PUN) of stage lights -- The Stage XB Stalwart 300, MonsterLite Max VI, and other lights with names I have made up. Better yet, the lights themselves appear to be posing for grade school Glamor Shots. This picture is best experienced by imagining that all of these lights have parents that have given wallet size versions of their respective photos out the rest of their light families. Good day.




Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Parenting backfire: Stranger danger

We’re beginning to teach our daughter the important lesson of being fearful of everyone.
This is a slippery slope for all parents, and it definitely has been for us because our daughter is extraordinarily extroverted.

You know how sometimes you are required to talk to a child who is not your own? I have tried that before and it is usually very unsuccessful. The child rarely responds to my inane question or comment and instead stares at me like I am the villain of a recently-viewed cartoon and then cowers behind the leg of a nearby, trusted adult. It is a very uplifting experience.

Our daughter is not like that, which makes me both proud and scared. She will ask a stranger in a grocery store existential questions—“S’cuse me why you be like that?”—from the seat of a shopping cart-car hybrid vehicle before that stranger even knows she is there.

She also has a sixth sense for soliciting strangers who so obviously do not want to be bothered. If you are 96 years old and walking around Trader Joe’s with an oxygen tank behind you and a look that says, “Get out of my way—I only have so much time left on Earth and I need to buy this asparagus,” then you are the person she will specifically target to serenade with her version of “Call Me Maybe.”

She is also not intimidated by anyone. Just weeks ago, while walking around Tolmachoff Farms for some family pumpkin-picking, we found ourselves about to cross paths with a very tall and large man wearing a cowboy hat who had stern eyes and who was walking quite menacingly. Our daughter looked up, way up, and greeted him by saying, “Hey cowboy.” Taken aback, he tipped his cap. It was quite awkward in the moment, but imagining her saying something like that when she is, say, 21, made it much, much worse.

After pleading to hug the older gentleman standing behind us in the checkout line at Safeway, my wife and I decided we needed to have a little talk with her. This talk occurred in the car a couple weeks ago after picking up my in-laws at the airport, so they were included in the discussion. And all the better considering it was my in-laws who instilled in my wife a healthy (questionable) fear of all unfamiliar human beings, a warranted skepticism thanks to the harsh realities of Brooklyn life.

Nevertheless, it was a struggle for all of us to explain to this 3-year-old child how she should not talk to strangers while simultaneously trying not to stifle her outgoing nature. Our apprehension at providing her the wrong message was nullified by the fact that it didn’t appear she was paying attention anyway.

We then stopped at Paradise Bakery for lunch. Upon entering the restaurant, our daughter laid eyes on a middle-aged man, pointed at him and yelled at the top of her lungs, “STRANGER, STRANGER!” The man was a good sport, telling our daughter she did the right thing, even though he posed no obvious threat and just wanted a sandwich. By the end of their conversation, she wanted a high-five and a hug. It seemed in the span of five minutes she had managed to take our advice while also maintaining her personality.

That concludes this week’s installment of “Parenting backfire.” There will be more weeks of this, I am sure.

Note: This column appears in the 11/22 issue of The Glendale Star and the 11/23 issue of the Peoria Times.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Spam email of the week

Subject: Creative Design and Development Services

Seems somewhat legitimate -- and exciting! -- right? This email is from a person, or something, called "Janvi." It's also in giant blue font.

Hello,

Hello.

Greetings of the day!

Greetings of the day to you, too? I have never heard this expression. Did "Hello" not qualify?

My name is Janvi, and I am working as a Business Development Manager in a Firm.

Like, THE firm? The one where they tried to kill Tom Cruise? That is dangerous, Janvi! Get out of there while you can! You can't, you say? You're in too deep? That sucks. Oh well, we might as well discuss a search engine optimization plan.

We are a Web Design and Development firm based in India, with over 4 years of experience.

I like how you bolded it and all, but four years isn't that many years, Janvi. Also, India? I KNOW you're not talking about outsourcing o'er here. Mo fo I work in Arizona -- we officially recognized Martin Luther King Day last week. We sure as heck ain't sending any business to India, wherever that is. So that's off the table. Still, preach your game.

Since your company offers Web Design and Development services to its clients,

It does not. But go on.

may I propose a business association between my firm and yours?

You may. I will assume that in India, weekly community newspapers are described as firms. Also I sincerely hope this proposal includes/IS a chart because I am a moron.

Our primary focus is around:-
  
Is that a face, Janvi? Or did you add a hyphen for no reason? Where is the smile? First you wish me all the greetings of the day and now you can't even preface a chart with a smiley face? MIXED SIGNALS. Whatever. Here :-) It's called diplomacy.

SEO
Web Design
Web Development
PPC
Flash Design
Graphic Designs
Link Building
Database programming
E-Commerce Solutions

This is my favorite chart that has ever existed. How long did this take to put together? Six weeks? Seven weeks? A thousand weeks? For someone touting web design expertise, the proof is certainly in the proverbial pudding of this chart. Mmmm ... pudding chart. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, this chart. What does it mean? Are some of these categories or are they all just things? It doesn't matter -- I am sold. Expect a call from my firm shortly, just as soon as we finish putting this article together about the local wildlife photo contest winners -- an article that, coincidentally, is lacking SIGNIFICANTLY in e-commerce solutions.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Taking it to the bank, literally

I’m pretty open to advances in technology, even if I’m often relatively late to the game. I think I’m part of that niche generation that was young enough to witness and accept the tech boom, but old enough to still be confounded by it. I am caught in the middle. If something weird happens to our laptop, I will literally just hand it to my 25-year-old brother-in-law and say, “Fix it.” Yet I am often the troubleshooter for my parents. (The troubleshooting is usually me telling them to just click “yes” on a pop-up box or telling them to call my brother-in-law.)

I embrace technology, so much so that it becomes for me a source of embarrassment to do something the old way. In fact, I will often blame outside factors for my inability to do something rather than just admit I have no idea what’s going on. Last week during some correspondence with a customer, I received an email that was like, “Please confirm via E-tear or scan and attach E-confirm form from web hoster.” I responded something along the lines of, “Unfortunately, I am unable to do that because of our operating system. :( How bout I just fax it, m’kay?” I didn’t even know if this made sense, but it was easier than having to admit my lack of understanding and risk having to learn a new thing.

Still, overall I think I’m adept at implementing technology into my everyday life. I mean, I’m the guy who uses the Great Clips app on my phone to check-in and gets to cut in front of the 8-year-old kid who’s been waiting with his mom to get his haircut for 20 minutes. There is, however, one facet of life where I am voluntarily old school in my approach—the bank.

Don’t get me wrong, I bank online, receive paperless statements, all that jazz. But when it comes to making physical deposits, I still do it the old way. I wait on line—the actual line with people, not the Internet—for the teller.

There is a reason for this. Many years ago when it was revealed we could, as Americans, deposit cash and checks into the ATM, I obliged. Granted, I was very nervous about this, and it took a considerable amount of courage for me to insert two weeks worth of pay into a machine. But I did it. And the machine lost it.
The amount of red tape and heartache it took to resolve this issue forced me to promise myself that I’d never succumb to the allure of bank deposit technology ever again. Ten years later, we live in an age where we can scan a check ourselves and deposit it through our phones. Do you have any idea how badly I want to do that?

Alas, I cannot. Besides the young children hanging perilously from the velvet rope maze, I am always the youngest person standing in the bank line because: who stands in the bank line anymore? Last week I stood in line for 15 minutes to deposit $20 into our daughter’s savings account. When I finally reached the teller, I became engaged in a familiar conversation:

Teller: Okay … twenty dollars? Is that, uh, all for you today, sir?

Me: Yes.

Teller: You know you can—

Me: I KNOW, I know.

Teller: Would you like cash back?

Me: Har, har. I use the Great Clips app, ya’ know …

Note: This column appears in the 11/8 issue of The Glendale Star and the 11/9 issue of the Peoria Times.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Spam email of the week

From: CHEVRON OIL COMPANY

Today's email is from my old friend, Chevron Oil Company. Unfortunately, Chevron, a multi-gazillion dollar oil company, could not attain the domain "@chevron." (Thankfully for all, they were able to get that as their Twitter handle, so if you like your oil updates swift and hilarious, follow @chevron.) Nope. They had to shorten it to @chv. Ya' know, THAT, or this email is complete bullshit.

Subject: Greetings!

The subject is "Greetings!"

Greetings!

Color me greeted.

I am Prof Abdul Wahid. a staff of the Chevron Oil Company,

Why, hello gas professor. You know, my wife oftentimes calls me the gas professor, so it appears we have an identity conflict here. Ha, ha, ha! Of course I am referring to farts. You probably get that a lot. Anyway, where were we? Oh yes, you are a staff of the Chevron Oil Company. That is interesting. Do you mean you are a long piece of wood or metal the Chevron Company carries around so it doesn't fall down? How did you write this email, considering you are an inanimate object? Probably because you are a professor, too. I'm sorry for all these questions. Please continue.

This email is to notify you that your email address as been selected by
the Board of trustees as one of the final recipients of this year Chevron
Oil Company promotion cash grant donation to celebrate the 30th
anniversary celebration.


The Board of Trustees for a multi-gazillion dollar oil company sat around a table trying to decide how to disperse the company's profits -- which is something companies do (?) -- and what they ultimately settled on was selecting from a pool of random email addresses. So far, this makes sense. Also, according to Wikipedia, Chevron was founded in 1984. Also, the name is Chevron Corporation and not Chevron Oil Company. Tell me what I won.

We are giving out the donation of {$850,000.00}
USD to 12 lucky recipients as this year promotion in support from the
W.H.O, UN, and the EU in-accordance with the enabling act of parliament.


The Enabling Act of Parliament states: It is hereby decreed that all public oil companies must celebrate their respective 30th anniversaries two years early and by giving out over $10 million to people who use email rather than just like, lowering the ridiculous cost of gas a few cents for everyone. DECREED! (Gavel slam). I don't want to get all political here, but in my opinion, this was our country's finest Parliament legislation. Also, big ups to the World Health Organization, which is somehow involved in this?

Fill out below information and contact the Chevron Oil Company promotion
Department payment center via email contact below:
1. Full Name:
2. Complete Address:
3.Occupation
4. Telephone Number:
Contact Person
Tell: +234-80590-48178
E-mail: prof.abdul.wahid@live.com


If there's anything more legitimate than "Professor Abdul Wahid at live.com," I've never heard of it. Also, for occupation, should I put my current one or the one I plan to have (none) once I get my money? I'll put "none," to be safe.

NOTE : If You Recieve This Message In Your Junk Or Spam Its Due To Your
Internet Provider


Me: Hi, Cox? Yeah, this is Mike. Listen, long story short -- you guys almost cost me 850 grand. I got this email about how I won 850 grand because I have email, and LUCKILY I checked my junk folder. But it shouldn't have went there. You need to change my Internet whatever to make sure this doesn't happen again.

Cox Communications: Uh, we honestly don't have anything to do with your specific email filters.

Me: Oh, really? Why don't you tell that to Professor Abdul Wahid!

Cox Communications: I honestly don't know what you are saying. We just provide the Internet connection. You probably have your email junk filter set to high. Or -- and this is just an opinion -- what you received really was junk, in which case, do NOT send any personal information in reply.

Me: Oh. Uhhh ... You guys do my phone, too, right?

Cox Communications: If by "do" you mean "provide service for your landline," yes.

Me: Can you tell me how to dial a number that is 13 numbers?

Cox Communications: I can, but it will cost you $850,000.

Me: Darn it! Figures. Patch me through to Parliament will ya'?

Cox Communications: Sure thing ... hangs up.

- - - - - -
H/T to great friend of So, Do You Like ... Stuff, Bill D., who provided his junk for this week's installment.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Sandy’s impact should affect us all

There were several factors involved in our decision to move from New Jersey to Arizona five and one half years ago, but if we had to boil it down to one reason, it was weather. We moved to Arizona for the weather.

Now, by “weather,” with regards to back east, I mean the brutally cold winters; de-icing the car on a dark, frigid Monday morning; blizzards and snowstorms that, great as they were as a kid, were nothing but inconvenient and dangerous as adults; incessant and unpredictable rain during all seasons that made it near impossible to make outdoor plans; unbearable summer humidity. By “weather” I never meant a natural disaster.

That’s what Superstorm Sandy was and is—a natural disaster. And it’s a very strange feeling to be here now, far removed from New Jersey and New York physically but not at all emotionally, spiritually. Our families and friends are all still there, and while they are all thankfully safe, they are living amidst the wreckage of a storm from which it seems impossible to fully recover.

I realize the Valley has its share of east coast transplants, but I find it necessary to extrapolate on what wrath this storm has wrought for those with no connections 2,500 miles away.

Anyone who has watched the news in the past two weeks knows that lives were lost; houses and places of business and livelihoods were destroyed; power has been out with no clear sign of its return in some areas; food and gas have been scarce and people are fighting for them as if characters in some post-apocalyptic movie. We’ve all seen the footage and heard the horror stories. If there’s one common theme running through all of the discussions we’ve had with family and friends back east—and remember, these are people who’ve endured Sandy relatively unscathed—it’s that no amount of footage can do justice to the first-hand reality.

Of everything lost with the exception of lives, and so much was lost, the most tragic has been dreams. Of a better life, one lived far removed from the everyday struggle, adjacent to the magnificent vastness of God’s blue ocean. My parents differed from nobody in their dream to be retired in a house down the shore. That dream has stemmed from childhood for generations of east coasters. Fill in the blank for the beach of choice everyone spent a great portion of their summers—ours was Point Pleasant. The ghosts of our childhood walked on creaky wooden boards and breathed in the salty air and wished it were possible to do this 365 days a year, not just the summer. Those summer days and nights made it possible to endure the less favorable weather detailed above. We chose to opt out, yet I’d always maintained a tinge of jealously when hearing about those days over the past half decade.

The Jersey shore is not damaged—it’s gone. It exists in basements miles away from where it once was, a path of destruction mapping its route. My parents never realized their dream, and now never will. Better that than those who did and watched it wash away.

The east coast deserves our prayers, donations, and empathy. Not just now, in the storm’s immediate aftermath, but indefinitely, when the news cycle has refreshed and our attention is again diverted.

The east coast should inspire us, too. In times like this, it’s common for an area to rally around its collective strength, and as someone with Jersey ties, I can say that strength is real. A few days ago my brother-in-law, after texting me some of the hardships and inconveniences they’ve been enduring, finished with this: “This Thanksgiving is going to be unlike any other.” If he feels that way then we should feel that way ten-fold from here, where the sun shines relentlessly.

Note: This column appears in the 11/8 issue of The Glendale Star and the 11/9 issue of the Peoria Times.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Spam email of the week

Subject: Your Chinese Partner

When I so much as scroll across this email, I get a pop-up box that reads, "To display language characters correctly you need to install the following language pack: Chinese Simplified." I declined to install a Chinese-to-English software program on my hard drive because, I figure, if anyone is sending me something in Chinese, it is probably irrelevant to me because: ? Nevertheless, even though I did not install the software this email is still strangely legible. Because it is in English. I am confused, yet elated.

Also, I didn't even know I had a Chinese partner. How was this not made known to me earlier, MOM? I have always desired a Chinese partner in some sort of endeavor, so this is very exciting. I wonder what his or her name is. Let me scroll to the bottom ... it's probably something very Chinese ...

Sincely
Jack Davis
Engineering manager

That is so stereotypically Chinese it's borderline offensive. Oh, you can't spell "sincerely," Jack Davis? Rearry?

Let's take it from the top.

(Friendly note: If you are not the right ones, pls kindly reply simple words like”NO”,thanks.)

It's hard for me to tell if I'm "not the right ones" here at the outset, although considering I was prompted to install language software to decipher this email, it's probably safe to say that I am not the right ones. But let me read the email first and if it doesn't apply to me I will respond with simple words like, "NO." In fact, would it be unimaginative of me to just go with "No" itself as a response? I can't think of any other simple words right now. I also considered not responding at all, but that might send mixed signals. Eh, I'll worry about it later.

Dear Sir,
 
Thank you for your attention.
 
Our company is a professional manufacture of plastic, rubber parts from China.


"Plastic, rubber parts" is bolded in blue font for emphasis. There is zero confusion right now that we are talking about plastic, rubber parts as opposed to something else. However, are these parts plastic AND rubber at the same time? That is INSANE.

As you know ,it is low material and cheaper labor in China. I think we can help you to reduce the cost.

Being able to get plastic, rubber parts from China at a reduced cost will greatly help me in my job as publications manager for a local weekly newspaper. "I like this story about the candidate for the district's school board, but where are the plastic, rubber parts?" is something I find myself saying literally every second of every day. This email has nailed it. I AM the ones, it turns out. One question though -- what does "it is low material" mean? Also, what does everything mean that is happening right now?

Besides, our company specialize in moulding ,tooling CNC,machining, we can offer all kinds of plastic produce according to customers' 2D/3D drawing and samples.

Besides, even if you don't need plastic, rubber parts from China, our company also does moulding, tooling CNC, and machining, which are things, I guess. And plastic produce, too. Like plastic lettuce.

I ask this because I don't know: Are there people, like, on earth, responsible for creating 2D and 3D drawings of desirable plastic produce? If so, and if you are one of those people, please leave your name and phone number in the comments because I would like to speak with you at length about this.

If you need,we can quote you a good price.

"If" I need? Pfft. Quote that shizz, yo. I think I speak for everyone when I say I'm tired of having boring old Americans making my plastic, rubber parts at inflated rates. We're about to start a revolution here. Do you guys want to see what the revolution looks like?
 


It looks like that. Bam. Breathe it in. Not literally; that plastic and rubber is crazy toxic.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The importance of face time

Face Time is a built-in app on the iPhone whereby one can video chat with a fellow iPhone user. It’s possible we use this feature more frequently than the regular ol’ phone audio because our respective parents would prefer to see their granddaughter rather than just hear her. They couldn’t care less about us, honestly. I don’t even make an appearance in the majority of our Face Time sessions, and spend most of them shirtless while washing dishes. (I am usually close to naked around the house. I am always hot here.)

These calls offer varying degrees of success, and by that I mean they are almost always unsuccessful. For example, we attempted to Face Time with my dad last week and it kept freezing. When this happens, it typically freeze-frames on your worst possible expression. So our daughter became frustrated that Pop was not answering her and confused as to why his funny face was stuck. At least with my parents, we can quickly come to a mutual decision that it isn’t working and end it.

It’s not so easy with my in-laws, and they have a faulty router that makes freezing the norm. My wife has taken to saving the pictures of the awful freeze frame shots of her mother, and has created a collage entitled, “Nanie’s expressions.” Regardless of how not well it’s going, my in-laws always want to try again, and their router will always fail again.

Because that’s the thing with Face Time—you need to be on an Internet connection to use it. Or so we thought. We Face Time-called my in-laws last week. They were driving home at the time, but my mother-in-law decided to pick up the call anyway. Now, I don’t know if the new iPhone updates allow for Face Time on 3G, or if this was a total fluke, but wouldn’t ya’ know it—it worked. The phone sat on the kitchen table in front of our daughter as this ensued:

Mother-in-law: AHHHHHH! IT WORKED! WE’RE DRIVING! Hi baby girl! We’re driving! Can you believe this?

Father-in-law: HA, HA, HA! It’s a miracle! How’s my baby girl doing? We’re driiiiiviiiiing … do you see us driving, honey? We seeeeeee youuuuuuu! We’re in the car. How is this happening? Talking to his wife … Hey, show her the car. She wants to see the car.

Mother-in-law: Tony, STOP! It’s a red light. I can’t believe this … how is my girl? Did you have a good day at school today?

Daughter: I—

Father-in-law: HOW’S MY GIRL? Do you see us driving, honey? I don’t understand how this is happening. Mike—how is this happening? We are driving …

Me: From the kitchen sink. I don’t know, Da—

Mother-in-law: Tony, you missed the turn! Are you even paying attention? Wait, hold on, honey … Talking to her husband … Did you give him the papers before? Because I don’t see them here. Where are your glasses? The light is green now, ugh! Anyway … How is my honey, doing?

Daughter: I’m doing go—

Father-in-law: I don’t know where the papers are. I can’t believe we are Face Timing in the car, HA HA! How is my honey? Did you show her the car?

This proceeded all the way until they arrived home, at which point we were all treated to a play-by-play of them trying to find the keys—which my father-in-law had somehow misplaced on his way from the car to the door—to open the door. When they finally arrived inside, the call switched to WiFi and subsequently froze.

Note: This column appears in the 11/1 issue of The Glendale Star and the 11/2 issue of the Peoria Times.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Spam email of the week (Pt. II)

Subject: Hello

Of course the subject is "Hello." "Hello" is a topic of conversation and not a mere salutation in Spambot Land, where the money is free and the rivers flow with the blood of the identity-less.

Hi!
I am Ms minnie how are you!


HI MS MINNIE I AM GOOD AND YOU? GOOD ARE YOU THE MOUSE OR AN EVIL SPAMBOT OR BOTH? NICE WEATHER TODAY GO LOCAL SPORTS TEAM

hope you are fine and in perfect condition of
health
.

Actually, Ms. Minnie, if you really want to know, I have been battling some acid reflux -- do you not follow my blog? -- and recently my jaw started experiencing this weird, sharp pain and also my toe nails are just ... they're not healthy, is all I can really say there. Overall I am fine though, thanks.

please do not be upset by receiving this email from me as we never
meet or know each other before.


What upsets me, mostly, is that sentence. Listen, Ms. Minnie -- if you're going to send out emails to people you don't know and are already anxious about this becoming a source of frustration for them, the least you can do is come correct with the grammar, y'namean? "as we never meet or know each other before ... ?" I want to physically remove that "sentence" from this email and set it on fire in the desert and leave it there to rot and then pour gasoline on the ashes and burn it again. No, I'm not upset. Please continue.

I will be waiting for your mail because i
have something VERY important to tell you,


You know what, Ms. Minnie? I'm just going to say it -- if it were THAT important, you'd tell me now. Forget this.















Seriously though what is it? The secret to life? JFK? Biggie? TELL ME I CAN WORK FROM HOME MAKING $5,000 A MONTH, GO AHEAD SAY IT! You win, I am emailing you back now. Where should I send the email? I have never done this before ...

please write to me through my
private mail box
:

Sounds nasty. This email is from "miine4lov@gmail.com" but I'm supposed to reply to "mine4love@gmail.com." Which one is your private mail box -- the one that is bullshit or the one that is bullshit? Now I am upset. I don't usually curse. My toe nail just cracked in half. I will have to get back to you later.

*Hat tip to Don D. for the spam*

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Spam email of the week

Subject: Very important to you! is not spam

I know we call this feature "Spam email of the week," but this email, according to this email, is not spam, so my apologies. It ended up in my junk mail folder and it was sent by contato@casaemail.com.br, or if you prefer, fonseca.dir@terra.com.br -- those are just too many dots -- and which are both people or things I am unfamiliar with. Nevertheless, not spam. And not only is this not spam, it is very important to me. ! I am therefore assuming this is about my family or fantasy football team(s).

Hello, I would like to offer you the best email list today on the market,

ARE YOU EVEN SERIOUS RIGHT NOW? How lucky am I? The best email list on the market? I don't know what I did to deserve this -- other than periodically check my junk email folder to see what dumbass nonsense was in there -- but my hard work has obviously paid off.

Just a few questions: a) What constitutes the best email list? Is it better than the one I currently have, which features all of my aunts and uncles and a few people I haven't spoken to in a long time and people I don't recall meeting at all but somehow they got in there? I mean, I have my uncle Tom's WORK email on there, and he doesn't give that out to just anybody. Your list is better than that? Hard to imagine. Also, b) what is an email list? Is that like, for sales or something? I am not in sales. This is not important to me. c) How did I get on your email list? I don't know who you are and I don't like you and I am not in sales. Please take me off. After you send me the email list, obvs.

please visit our website and good sales

Is that a terrible sentence or a salutation? If the latter, it feels sort of old timey to me. I picture two men in top hats walking down the street in 1900 ...

Man 1: Good day, fine sir! Tips top hat, notices man is opening the door to a window store. And good sales!

Man 2: Good day to you, too, my good man! Tips top hat, notices man is opening the door to a top hat store. And good sales!

Man 1: Thank you! But I mop the floors here.

Man 2: Please visit our website!

Man 1: What does that mean?

Man 2: I do not know.

http://www.casaemail.com.br

I actually clicked on this link as it was embedded into the email and it did nothing. And by nothing I mean absolutely nothing; like it didn't even pretend it was going to open a page or whatever. This made me think that maybe some firewall was preventing it from opening and destroying all the hard drives in our office. Or it could be there are just too many dots in there, as I had previously feared.

Thankyou.

One word. And no, thank YOU. This was indeed very important to me, in the sense that it was useless and annoying and I wanted it to go away immediately.

Anyway, thanks everyone for stopping by today, and good sales to those who enjoyed it! To those who did not -- you are a terrible salesperson and I hope you get fired. No offense.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The lil’est slugger

We signed our daughter up for Lil’ Sluggers baseball on Saturday mornings. This was a risky move on the heels on Soccer Tots last fall, during which she had an all-out meltdown in five of the six sessions. Nevertheless, it’s important she remains active, and even more important I move forward with my plan of imposing the sport of baseball on her whether she likes it or not. It is my responsibility as a father.

Luckily, she seems to like baseball naturally. She has a baseball tee set in the backyard. Yes, it is pink, since “apparently every manufacturer in the world feels the need to gender-specify.” (- Wife) She also has a glove, which is also pink because I simply could not find a regular kid’s baseball glove. All the other (boys) gloves had pictures of Transformers or Spongebob Squarepants on them because: baseball. It is no longer possible to purchase a normal baseball glove for a child, fyi.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, she does enjoy hitting off the backyard tee, so we figured this could possibly translate well into her becoming a genuine Lil’ Slugger. The first session was a couple of weeks ago. It turned out our daughter was the only girl in the class, something I actually did not notice until my wife mentioned it when we arrived home. I was proud of myself for not noticing, thinking I’ve successfully reached the point where I do not judge Lil’ Sluggers based on gender alone. Upon further consideration, I realized I didn’t notice because I actually could not distinguish whether several of the kids were boys or girls.

One of my major concerns about these classes is that they are run by teenagers. I have no problem with teenagers (not true) except that they don’t have much experience with 3-year-olds. Especially my 3-year-old. She will run away as you are talking, and I doubt that’s something a teenager deals with on a day-to-day basis. Her coach for Lil’ Sluggers put my mind at ease somewhat when he said he’d been playing baseball his whole life. He then, however, in giving a broad overview of the game, described runs as “points.” I think he did this because he felt the kids could relate to points better than runs, but I almost pulled her out of the class right then and there.

To my surprise and delight, she has really taken to Lil’ Sluggers. I don’t want to say she’s the best Lil’ Slugger—there’s a lefty who comes dressed in full uniform who hits the ball fifty yards off the tee and who is either on steroids or 6—but she is definitely the lil’est. And she’s hanging with the boys. When she hits the ball off the tee, she feels the need to chase the ball down before she runs the bases because she doesn’t want anyone else to have it. Once we work that kink out, we may have something.

Better yet, there are kids in the class who are even more distracted than our daughter. There is one kid who I’m not sure has participated in anything yet; he just runs around in circles near the tennis courts. This makes me feel good for some reason. Still, our daughter has the attention span of a falling leaf, so I’m unsure how long the fun will last. It’s also the reason I doubt baseball will translate well for her as she gets older—And that's why they call it a double-switch ... hey, where did you go?—and why I want her to experience it now.

I mean, who knows if she’ll ever grow up to become every girl’s dream—a big slugger. For now, this will work.

Note: This column appears in the 10/25 issue of The Glendale Star and the 10/26 issue of the Peoria Times.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Spam email of the week

Subject: Auto insurance (9/17/2012)

I work at a weekly newspaper, so it's important I'm up to speed (pun) on the latest news re: car insurance. Also, FINALLY someone has the wherewithal to include the date of the sent email in the subject header. I mean, is that so hard to do? Like many people who use email, I am not able to sort my email by date, and thus I am frequently saying things like, "Argh! Where is that email from whoever about whatevs from Tuesday the 23rd? WHY IS MY DEFAULT EMAIL SORT SETTING ON 'CAT MENTIONS' AND HOW DO I FIX IT?"

Our company is part of a platform of nearly 37 million people,

Whoa, slow your roll, playa! Not even a greeting? No, "Hello Beloved," or "To my sincerest" or "DEAR NEWSPAPER?" I'm offended.

Okay I'm over it. Go on with this thing about your company being part of a platform, which doesn't mean anything or make sense.

mostly United States and Canadian based.

Cool. Like many, I don't want to be dealing with no ASIANS. Continue.

What we do gives us the ability to present our end users with a first choice when they look for anything on any of the major search engines.

That is very specific and explanatory. I like how what your company does gives it the ability to do something. A lot of companies are like, "We do this," and I'm like, "Okaaaay. But does it give you the ability to do something?" No response. Also, what about the end users? What if the end users try to search something on the Internet and they don't get a first choice? I hate when I Google something and the first choice that comes up is the 107th choice.

But wait. If I understand this correctly, and I don't, what your company does is provide auto insurance quotes to Internet users who search for anything. So I could be like, let me search for "home remedies for acid reflux," and then BAM -- auto insurance quote that I didn't even need or want, and I still have acid reflux. This seems like a thing a lot of people would want and like.

We're looking for a preferred source to send our users searching for auto insurance in Glendale and surrounding markets.

LET ME BE THAT SOURCE. Again, I work at a newspaper, so it only makes sense that I'd be on the front lines of providing Internet search engines a place to find auto insurance quotes. In fact, let's do this now. When are you in the office and in what time zone?

I’m in the office weekdays from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM Pacific time.

Sweet.

Yours truly,

Mike Beale     
Service Analyst, SPS Search     
Phone: (877) 709-6971, ext.  1194


Mike Beale is a service analyst for SPS Search, although this email is from mikeb@ngportal.net. Also, I called the number -- really, I did -- and per the recording, the company's actual name is "SPN Search," which, whatever. I also dialed the listed extension, which led me to one of the creepiest away messages I've heard in some time, and which failed to mention an actual name. I detected a sense of irony that a company claiming to specialize in search engine results cannot nail down a name for itself, but I wasn't sure if that was actually irony or just weird, so I Googled "irony" and now I have a different car insurance company, so the day was not completely wasted.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The strip mall right-of-way, where everyone is wrong

The Arizona strip mall is a phenomenon unlike any I have ever seen. It is also the most dangerous place in the world.

Let us begin with the strip mall itself. If you have a business in the West Valley, you exist in a strip mall. The only free standing structures in this state are houses, so the only way to be sure you’re not in a strip mall is to find a bed. Unless you’re in a mattress store, in which case you’re definitely in a strip mall.

This is all well and good I suppose, except that there is no way of knowing what stores are in a strip mall unless you drive into one. Driving into a strip mall, however, does not come without risks. That is because the dyslexic child engineers who designed strip mall parking lots here did so in the most confusing way imaginable.

Here is my experience driving in any strip mall here: I am driving safely. Here comes an intersection. It looks like I don’t have a stop sign here but let me just be cautious because … yep, they blew their stop sign. I guess pick-up trucks with eight wheels have the right-of-way regardless. Okay, I will continue to drive straight, and here is another intersection. This parking lot has a lot of intersections for a parking lot. Anyway, I must not have a stop sign at this one because I didn’t have one at the last one and I am going straight, so to have one here would make no sense—nope, this time I have a stop sign. I will wait. Looks like this elderly woman thinks she has a stop sign even though she doesn’t. I will wait here until she realizes it. BEEP! MOVE WOMAN! Okay, I should be fine if I continue to drive straight to my destination … wait, the road is turning? STRAIGHT DOESN’T EXIST. Is this one-way? There is a car coming at me head on. I better park before I get killed. Uh oh, SPEED BUMP.

This frequently experienced scenario, however, does not even account for my least favorite part of strip mall driving. That would be driving along the strip itself, the road by the store entrances.

Obviously, this is a high foot-traffic area, and I have always exhibited the proper caution while driving. This is also, however, a road, made of asphalt, so it becomes increasingly frustrating to account for pedestrians bursting out of stores and into the street without so much as a passing glance.

It’s like a video game, really. Trying to drive the strip mall strip while avoiding pedestrians who walk right into the street. Some don’t even pick up their head up until my bumper is an inch away from their thigh, and then they have to nerve to look at me like, “Can I walk here?” And I’m like, “I’M THE CAR. PICK YOUR HEAD UP.” Then I wait there as they walk as slow as humanly possible back to their monster pick-up truck, at which point several other people have left the store and are crossing, and I can never leave.

Oh, and this must be done while avoiding the obnoxious guy illegally parked on the strip with his hazards on because his wife is “just getting one thing.” All of this makes for a fantastic experience, where the only “right” of way is your own.

Note: This column appears in the 10/18 issue of The Glendale Star and the 10/19 issue of the Peoria Times.