Monthly Archives: July 2007

Is advertising art?

With shit like this, it's hard to argue for the 'no' side.

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Random tidbits from an article about how adults are starting to use emoticons

More than once, Alexis Feldman, the director of the Feldman Realty Group, a commercial real estate company in Manhattan, has been moving forward on a major deal when, she said, “at the 23rd hour, I get an e-mail from the broker saying, ‘Sorry, my client is not interested in the space, too bad we couldn’t make the big bucks’ — then there’s a frown face!”

“I mean, it’s ludicrous,” said Ms. Feldman, 25. “I’m not going to feel better about losing hundreds of thousands of dollars because someone puts a frown face to regretfully inform me.”

Emoticons, she added, should be reserved for use by “naïve tweens on AOL Instant Messenger finding out after-school soccer practice is canceled.”

I've noticed that gays are emoticon-enthusiasts. I wonder if anyone has ever sent the e-mail:

"The test results came back positive. :-( eh?"

Kristina Grish, said that she grew so accustomed to making the :-P symbol (a tongue hanging out) in instant messages at work that it once accidentally popped up, in three dimensions, on a date.

“When the waiter told us the specials,” she recalled, “I made that face — not on purpose of course — because they sounded really drab and uninteresting. And the guy I was out with looked at me like I was insane and said, ‘Did you just make an IM face?’ ”

Tremendous. This is like those people who actually say 'roflmao' (row-ful-mayo) when they want to indicate that something you've said is funny. You know, because laughing is so analog.

Teenagers seemed to easily recognize that the characters 3:-o represented a cow, or that @>–> — symbolized a rose or that ~(_8^(I) stood for Homer Simpson.

It took me eons to figure out the Homer Simpson one just now. I clearly haven't been spending enough time on MySpace.

…Soon there were emoticons for historical figures, like Ronald Reagan: 7:^]

Hey, that's clever!

Wait, why are teenagers referring to Reagan so much that he needs a shortcut? Do other historical figures all have emoticons now? If Hitler had one, do you reckon they'd use the winky eyes?

The Japanese, no strangers to the marketing of cute, devised a smiley which could be read without turning one’s head sideways: {*_*}

You can tell the writer of this article is over 40 because she actually turns her head sideways when she sees an emoticon. I imagine a legion of middle-aged soccer moms reading this article, heads tilted like Saint Bernards, going 'Oooh, I get it! I get it!'

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Drug companies now giving advice on how to discreetly shit your pants

From the website for Alli, a new diet pill with a few minor side effects:

You may feel an urgent need to go to the bathroom. Until you have a sense of any treatment effects, it's probably a smart idea to wear dark pants, and bring a change of clothes with you to work.

Or, as another website puts it, "you very well may shit yourself at, literally, a second's notice."

You can use a food journal to recognize what foods can lead to treatment effects. For example, writing down what you eat may help you learn that marinara sauce is a better option than Alfredo sauce.

Because it leaves a stain that's easier to clean? I don't know if this one is just a general suggestion, but their PR intern hella needs to work on her transitions.

You may not usually get gassy, but it's a possibility when you take Alli. The bathroom is really the best place to go when that happens.

Thanks for the tip, GlaxoSmithKline! After all, no one minds the girl who smells like a large intestine as long as she's skinny.

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How Harry Potter is Charles de Gaulle

[don't worry, this is spoiler-free]

I love how the Internet has drastically increased the opportunity to read smart people writing about really trivial shit. Today's completely meaningless topic: How similar is Harry Potter to The Lord of the Rings? Take it away, Smart Dude:

Though when LOTR came out people wanted to link it with the Second World War, and the Ring with the atom bomb, Tolkien was always insistent that if the book came out of any twentieth-century experience it was that of the First World War, the Great War, in which he fought and in which several of his friends died. And that’s clearly right. The slow coming on of war after a long period of peace, the reluctance of leaders to admit that war is on its way, the dawning sense not only that war is inevitable but also that its scope will be uniquely vast and terrible – all this clearly recalls Europe as its post-Napoleon century of general peacefulness came to a sudden and horrific end.

Rowling’s stories, by contrast, are obviously, even ostentatiously, modeled on the arrival of World War II. (The real WWII is referred to in the books, but the war with Voldemort is also a fictional copy of some of its themes.) Here too there is reluctance to admit what’s coming, not because peace has reigned for so long but because the wounds and traumas of the previous war are so fresh. Surely the Dark Lord could not have returned? Surely we could not be facing such conflict again, and from the same source? Surely the very families who lost members so recently could not be in danger again? Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic, practices denial and appeasement in ways that clearly recall Neville Chamberlain, while Albus Dumbledore (in the political wilderness at Hogwarts) is equally clearly the Churchill of his world, insisting that everyone face hard facts. Once Voldemort and his minions take over, the historical parallels shift from wartime England to Germany under the Nazis and (to a lesser extent) Vichy France. There are bureaucratized purges of the racially or ideologically impure, forced governmental registrations of citizens according to bloodlines, an underground Resistance movement, etc. (You can even see Harry as a kind of Charles de Gaulle, oddly enough, as he becomes the charismatic point of focus for the Resistance.) The whole political/military structure of the books is everywhere modeled on the experiences of the Second World War.

 Cool, huh? Tomorrow: How "Where the Wild Things Are" is really about Darfur.

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How low does the dollar have to go before we start calling it the peso?

dollar price per euro

Today the U.S. dollar is at $1.36 against the euro and $2.03 against the pound. Here in Denmark, a dollar will buy you 5.4 kroner, meaning that a meal in a restaurant with tablecloths costs around $22. Last time I was in Paris, a cup of drip coffee set me back $4. Now it's up to $4.75. A beer in London at a cheap neighborhood pub is now at least $6. At a club, $9.

The Canadian dollar, once considered the North American rupee, is now equal to the U.S. dollar. The Australian dollar, which was worth 50 cents when I lived there in 2001 ("Everything half off!" should have been on their tourist brochures), is now 86 cents. I don't understand macroeconomics well enough to figure out why this has happened — or why gold and copper are both at all-time highs – but I'm sure I'll find a way to blame Bush somehow.

Meanwhile, here in Denmark, I will simply continue living like Fieval in "An American Tail," joylessly gnoshing my medieval-prisoner diet of rye bread and butter and sucking on lemons between mealtimes to avoid The Scurve.

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Isn’t it ironic? Yeah, I really do think

We had a conversation the other night about all the terrible terrible music you used to like when you were a teenager, which ended up inspiring the following Messenging:

Logan says:

hey so, im going thhrough my itunes deleting music and guess what i came across…..

Logan says:

that Jewel CD

Mike says:

ha!

Logan says:

should i delete it???

Mike says:

the shame…

Logan says:

or am i required to have it

Mike says:

Listen to it. I'll bet it sounds hella embarrassing

Logan says:

im listening to who will saHEEHAve your soul

Logan says:

o shit, i know the words

Mike says:

haha

Logan says:

this song was last played in 2003

Mike says:

and last enjoyed in 2001

Mike says:

I think last time I cleaned out mine, I came across Teknotronic. 'pump up the jam, pump it up…'

Logan says:

ewwww john mayer

 

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“I’m also pro-kitten, pro-daffodil, and pro-little-kids-eating-ice-cream-cones. Take that, Obama!”

As a demonstration of the sheer douchebaggery that characterizes the choice Americans face in 2008, this is a recent campaign ad that Mitt Romney is running in Iowa, New Hampshire, and other places I can't find on a map:

So let's recap. You should vote for Mitt Romney if you're anti-pornography and drugs, and pro-Piano of Sadness and B-roll footage that looks like a tampon commercial.

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Fake action movie one-liners

To celebrate the release of the fourth movie in the unnecessary, undead 'Die Hard' series, Slate Magazine held a little contest to come up with the best vintage Bruce Willis-era one-liner. None of these rival the crushing retardation of 'Yipee kai yay, motherfucker', but they could all convincingly be followed by a gunshot or explosion.

"Welcome to America, douche bag."

"Less talk, more dying,"

"Myspace friend add … denied!"

"Blink, and you'll die in the dark"

"I'm the decider"

"My karate will disintegrate your genitals."

"Dénouement-ized, man-kisser!"

"Consider this negative eBay feedback."  

"Toodles"

"Veni, vidi, vici, sugarplum"

 

And here's a contest from last year. Inspired by Snakes on a Plane, they asked for the best obvious-movie titles:

Apes at a Rave

Flies in the Fruit Basket

The Creature Waits in the Structure

That's Not Sangria!

Handcuffed to Tigers

Thigh Nazis Dance!

Kittens for Breakfast

Football Team Who Was Bad, But Then Became Good in the Championship Game

Two Heterosexual Individuals Meet and Get Married

Catch Phrase! (starring Will Smith)

Titanic Two: Two Titanics!

The Uplifting Retard

A Film About Black People (Made by Jewish People)

That Guy From That Movie You Kind of Liked Gets Kicked in the Crotch But Learns Lesson Later

The Lord Helps Nonthreatening Southerners

I Am Explosive, Bosomy

This Movie Really Fucking Scared Japanese People

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10 thoughts on Harry Potter

  1. Don't worry, I won't spoil anything. I do wonder how long it will be before we can discuss this entire book as simply another part of the cultural lexicon, though. It's not like people get mad at you for saying 'Kevin Spacey is Keyser Soze' anymore.
  2. I love how much the final Harry Potter book ties into the previous six, even going back to Harry's 11th birthday. Characters are genuinely affected by what has come before, and the book doesn't bother with any 'Last time, on Harry Potter…' kind of recaps. If you haven't been paying attention, you simply miss out. With all the talk of us 20-somethings being the 'MTV generation' with fruit-fly attention spans, we sure consume a lot of entertainment that requires thought and dedication. The 'Full House' era of episodic entertainment, where every problem is solved after 22 minutes (or 200 pages) and we all move on to next week's misadventure, is just another thing we seem to have buried with the '90s.
  3. Hype, at a certain point, is a terminal condition. No matter how great a book is, it's just a book. The best movie you've ever seen didn't, fundamentally, do much more than entertain you for two hours.
  4. The part of a story where everything is revealed is always disappointing. You just go 'Oh', and the previous 500 pages become a little more moot. Explanations are the opposite of intriguing. Does anyone really think that 'Lost' is going to have the same resonance, mystery and rewatchability once you find out that the smoke monster was just a government plot, or an alien housepet, or a purgatorial security guard? Oh.
  5. One of the braver choices of the 'Harry Potter' books is for the writing to grow up with the characters. As the characters have aged, so has the vocabulary, themes and plotting, slowly shifting from whimsy to determination. While the first book presented all the magical trappings as some kind of theme park, by book seven they are both routine and terrible. It makes me wish every happy, sappy children's book had followed its protagonists into adulthood.
  6. That said, though, even HP7 is, at heart, a children's book.
  7. I tend to have a reflexive, scoffy response to anything as widely popular as Harry Potter. I resisted 'The Da Vinci Code' for eons because it seemed like the literary equivalent of 'Walker, Texas Ranger' or something. I think why I love the Harry Potter books, and am still struggling to make peace with 'Da Vinci', is that Rowling has much more humble ambitions. Harry Potter is simply a solid story, solidly told. She's not trying to blow your mind with revelations about ancient institutions, or impress you with her historivia. No one thinks they're any smarter after they finish all seven HP books.
  8. Thank GOD the whole thing doesn't wrap up with a moral, or some lame allusion to current events. After reading about Rowling's increasingly expanding political positions this year, I thought I was gonna be confronted with shit like, 'The Dark Lord set fire to forests of Hogwarts. Just like how President Bush has charred the hopes of the Iraqi people.'
  9. In that way, these books are both modern and old-fashioned. There is no trace of meta-anything in Harry Potter. No Tarantino time-shifts, no fourth wall-breaking, no Oprah's Book Club language about how Hermione's wand makes her feel like a woman. Just nonstop tension, high stakes, 3-D characters, absurb coincidences, and lots of speeches explaining all the shit that has baffled you for the last 10 years.
  10. Can we start lobbying Peter Jackson to direct the movie of the final book?

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Bringin’ all the grandsons to the yard

I'm still in Potter-sponsored social isolation, but this is the only thing that has replaced my look of furious concentration with laughter this weekend:

Thanks, UBM

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