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.