Posts filed under ‘commentary’

actually, i can believe it’s not butter

there’s a series of videos floating around on the interweb called auto-tune the news where several rather talented musicians turn news clips into entertaining pop songs. using a computer program, the speech from various newscasters is pitched to musical notes, creating a song. what is truly surprising, besides the gormlessness of daytime news anchors, is how good these songs sound. if i were to hear these songs on my car radio, i would assume it was just the latest and trendiest pop or r&b song.

that’s because in essence, they are. if you’ve been to a live concert, you’ll know that while the music is more exciting, the sound just doesn’t seem as polished as the illegal mp3s you’ve downloaded. that’s because the recording has been bent, mixed, processed, and mastered to sound pristine perfect. computer software can adjust the pitch and timing of  notes sung off-key or off beat and as a result today’s radio stations mostly broadcast talentless teenagers, chosen more for the range of their hip gyrations than the range of their voices. if you managed to catch the live, un-processed black eyed peas performance before the start of the NFL season opener last thursday, you’ll know what i’m banging on about.

you might expect this to bother an irascible grump such as myself but actually, i’m really quite fine. i have already been desensitized by countless dispelled illusions of photoshopped pictures, augmented and tucked celebrities, and computer generated trickery in movies. it was only a matter of time before music was affected by our propensity towards artificial enhancement.

if you ever leave margarine on your counter top on a hot summer day, you’ll notice that it does not spoil. because margarine is manufactured in a chemical factory from plastic, sin, and yellow coloring, not even bacterial and fungal decomposers find it fit to eat. so why do we, as higher primates, continue to accept these shameless substitutes for art, film, and music? and if brainless microorganisms have enough sense to avoid dining on margarine, shouldn’t we be clever enough to distinguish between cultural margarine and cultural butter?

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September 18, 2009 at 9:09 pm Leave a comment

reading the paper can kill you

it is hard to enjoy anything currently. just this past weekend, i was at the pub enjoying a meal with a friend. as we shared in good conversation, little nagging thoughts occasionally popped into my head. just how quickly does second-hand smoke turn my lungs into tumorous blocks? is my burger cooked medium-rare infected with bacteria that will liquefy my intestines? have the land burning, communist agents working for the philadelphia parking authority towed away my car for an 30 second-expired meter?

i fully blame this prevalent worrywart-itis on the media. anytime you open up the paper or turn on the ten o’clock news, it is all doom and gloom. corrupt city governments are misappropriating funds, old men in suits on wall street are reducing your retirement funds to the value of last year’s laptop, and toxic cat litter is turning your kitty’s insides to concrete – the list goes on and on.

eventually, someone is going to find a connection between newspaper ink and skin cancer. and because we’re told that watching the television gives you glaucoma and turning on the car radio while driving means you’ll go through the pearly gates backwards and on fire, how will we ever learn about the dangers of newspaper reading? surely not through the interweb, which is filled only with pedophiles and terrorists.

as i write this, i am reading an article that documents how drinking, even in moderation, shrinks your brain. the pathetic scaremonger who performed this study clearly has nothing in life which makes him happy and is seeking revenge on the world by spreading his hate and misery. rest assured, drinking only affects your brain in the short term, and in that short term, alcohol is a magical and wonderful thing. benjamin franklin once said that “beer is living proof that god loves us and wants us to be happy.” in the long term, alcohol in all forms lowers the incident of heart disease and red wines are chock full of powerful antioxidants. so don’t worry about your brain’s cleverness and enjoy your glass of chablis, your ice cold martini, or your pint of lager.

unless youre drinking keystone light, in which case i might start believing that article.

November 16, 2008 at 10:14 pm Leave a comment

bankrupt and blind

every vegetarian and ecomentalist i know has been warning me how all the hormone-infused chicken i frequently eat (and greatly enjoy) will make my eyes rot so i thought it may be a good idea to see the ophthalmologist.

the eye doctor confirmed that all parts of my eyeballs were still intact and working despite my flagrant consumption of GMO foods and my pentium-processor-centric style of living. i used an atari joystick to take an entertaining peripheral vision test and as a bonus, he gave me a refresher course on reading my alphabets. i even got these cool teardrops put into my eyes that dilated my pupils, which happens to be a good excuse to give to a police officer who has pulled you over for driving while high on speedballs. all in all, my eye examination was educational and bordering on enjoyable.

i was then led back into the waiting area, where thousands of eyeglass frames lined every square inch of all four walls. the possibilities were excitingly endless. i could choose frames that would make me appear wise, hip, or homosexual. i could select frames that made me look like an emo rocker, the queen of england, or even elton john. except i couldn’t because my eyes were full of chemicals that prevented them from focusing properly. and even if my eyes could see, the lenses in these frames are covered in all sorts of stickers that advertise anti-polarizations, UV A/B/Cs, and safety warnings which effectively render you blind as a bat when you go try them on.

after groping about for a pair of glasses that fit my mutant, abnormally shaped head and confirming with the sales-woman that i did not look like a complete fool, i went to pay for my new glasses. they say that one’s eyes are the window to their soul. therefore, i was willing to splurge on window frames that would distract people from the twisted soul that lay hidden beneath. i was not, however, ready to be financially ruined. even with my health insurance, i had to pay a king’s ransom for such things such as high index lenses and scratch resistant coating. luckily, the going rate for a kidney on the black market will cover most of these costs and i hear you can function with only one.

i suppose its time to see the nephrologist.

June 15, 2008 at 5:28 pm Leave a comment

sorry, mr. dow jones and mrs. nasdaq

it is only thursday morning and already, i have spent 8 hours of my week at meetings.

i understand that part of my new job involves communication between various departments in my company. i have accepted that our clients see value in stopping by for a visit to discuss their concerns. i even enjoy speaking with (some of) our customers about how their projects are proceeding and assuring them of the quality of their drug.

but why must all this be done while sitting around an expensive table, exchanging business cards, and turning verbs into nouns while advancing through slide presentations? nothing gets accomplished at meetings, except for setting a time for the follow-up meeting. this is as much of a law of nature as gravity is. or being rained on after leaving your umbrella at home.

below is what my work calendar looks like for this week:

and that is the reason why our economy is going to pot. millions of hours of productivity are being lost while people sit in board rooms, or bored rooms, appearing to nod sagely but really just daydreaming about their next holiday, while a beige man in a beige suit drones on and on, reading from his beige powerpoints.

the cure for the economy is not a stimulus package. nor is the cure for the economy emancipation from foreign oil dependence. and the cure for the economy definitely is not a tree hugging liberal in the white house.

to make right our dows, nasdaqs, and s&p’s, all we must do is outlaw the business meeting.

May 8, 2008 at 1:22 pm 1 comment

my week with the toyota prius

my car was unfortunate enough to need repairs this week so i was unfortunate enough to be loaned a prius for the duration my car was in the shop.

the prius has become a bit of a fashion item these days. by driving this car, you let people know that you care about baby polar bears, conserving the rain forest, women’s rights, and apple computers. a long list of hollywood celebrities drive a prius, including harrison ford, leonardo dicaprio, cameron diaz, kevin bacon, will ferrell, and tom hanks.

but aren’t fashion accessories supposed to be good looking?

the toyota prius is probably one of the most ugly car on the roads today. this is puzzling because clearly, toyota knows how to design a decent looking car. just look at the cutesy yaris, the understated corolla, and the handsome camry (see below).

so the prius is not too good looking. i could possibly live with that if there were enough good things about the car to offset its deformed appearance. the first thing i liked about the prius was the interior space. it was downright cavernous. the headroom is incredible for a car its size and the rear legroom rivals that found in the camry. there’s tons of room to carry 5 adults around comfortably. the automatic climate control was quick to warm up the cabin of the car on the cold winter mornings and the prius’s suspension was adept at soaking up the moon-like craters found on philadelphia back roads.

the car is also whisper quiet at low speeds when only the electric motor is propelling you forwards. at first i enjoyed the serenity and being thoughtful to people living in the houses i drove by. but after some consideration, i have decided that the quietness of the car is actually quite dangerous. if you are cruising about at a low speeds, as you would in residential areas, the car makes no sound. if you are in a residential area, there will likely be kids playing on the sidewalks. when a kid runs into the street to chase after his ball, he will not hear your prius coming and you will strike and kill the child. your license will be suspended and you won’t be able to drive your prius, which saves a ton of gas.

children in back of the car are not safe either because rear visibility is the worst i have ever experienced in any car. because the rear window is so close to being parallel with the ground, and also because of a spoiler that runs across the rear-hatch, you literally have only 6 inches of vertical space to see the things behind you. so after killing all children in front of and in back of the prius, you will surely be locked away in a turkish prison for reckless driving.

another way to save gas is to be scared off the roads. the prius is so unimaginably slow that merging onto a highway will definitely require you to hire a trauma therapist. you’re on the on-ramp, you signal, look left, the coast is clear, you stomp on the throttle, and….nothing happens. everything seems to get louder but your speedometer is not changing. quite frankly, i am surprised that i am still alive and writing this blog post after driving the car for a week. since dead people don’t drive and thus, cannot burn gasoline, the prius’s lack of any forward motivation further adds to the environmental friendliness of the prius. or maybe the car was designed to be slow so that when you strike the child that did not hear you coming, he will feel nothing but a nudge.

i really don’t see any reason for owning a prius. in regards to fuel consumption, normal diesel cars such as the golf tdi, jetta tdi, and upcoming diesel cars from honda all get better mileage than the prius, which is rated at 48mpg in the city and 45mpg on the highway. so if you want an eco-friendly car, get a diesel. if you want an ugly, slow, and unsafe way to get from home to work, you would be better off with a donkey.

February 15, 2008 at 1:50 am 9 comments

got a runny nose? move to australia

it is a funny thing when you get sick – the world suddenly becomes very small. nothing on earth seems to matter except the inordinate amounts of mucus your nose is producing and how badly your throat hurts when you cough. a giant asteroid could be waiting outside your window, ready to send mankind to the way of the dinosaur, and all that would be on your mind is if enough antihistamine was in your nighttime cough syrup.

of course, right now i am not sick – i am in fact dying. i have something much more sinister than your average cold. a cold is what red-nosed grade schoolers get. if you tell someone that you are sick with a cold, they’ll likely scoff and tell you to “suck it up, nancy-boy.” so what i really had was a cancerous bubonic plague with a side infection of ebola and avian flu.

this was most troublesome when i went to the pharmacy because theraflu doesn’t come in a “cancerous bubonic plague with a side infection of ebola and avian flu” flavor. i found theraflu packets to cure flu and sore throat, flu and chest congestion, cold and cough, cold and sore throat, daytime severe cold, and nighttime severe cold. in the same aisle were various syrups, strips, pills, sprays, and lozenges. when you have a fever, watering eyes, and are coughing up your sphincters, making sense of a pharmacy’s “cold remedy” aisle will bring even the manliest man to tears.

so i called up my GP and tried to arrange for an appointment. i told her that men from the CDC dressed in full body biohazardous suits were asking me if i have wallowed in chicken feces recently, but she said the earliest she could see me is in 10 days. by that time, i will have either been consumed by my black death, or i will have fully recovered. in both scenarios, seeing her would be completely pointless.

so what is a sick person to do? doctors can’t be bothered and you need advanced degrees in pharmaceutical sciences to buy the proper medicine. in addition, the CDC wants to place you under quarantine and your boss wants those TPS reports on his desk monday morning (mm kay?).

the solution to all these problems, curiously enough, is to move to australia. when is the last time you saw an australian with a cold? can you even imagine steve irwin, the crocodile hunter, blowing his nose and sipping chicken noodle soup while laying in bed? in australia, everything can and will kill you; the world’s most dangerous jellyfish, snakes, marsupials, and rugby players all live in australia. any disease from the rest of the world pales in comparisons to the dangers that exist in australia.

and if my boss follows me to australia, then i hope, for his sake, that the man-eating prawns get to him before i do.

January 26, 2008 at 1:48 am 1 comment

whose mountain is it?

in norway, there is a rock drawing of a man on skis that is believed to be over 4500 years old. the word “ski” has its roots in old norse, and if you have a penchant for linguistics, you’ll be interested in knowing that ancient scandinavian historical records speak of a people called the skrithifinns, or “skiing wanderer.”

all this bookish history is jolly interesting, but as soon as you mention skiing in any conversation nowadays, the discussion inevitably will lead to topic of snowboarders and skiers.

let me make it clear right now that i don’t really care for snowboarding. i’ve been skiing since i was in elementary school and i can’t think of a quicker or a classier way to get down a snowy mountain. i don’t understand why i receive looks of contempt and incredulity when i’m asked whether i “ski or board” and i answer “ski.” it is unfathomable to me why snowboarding is considered cooler than skiing when james bond, the epitome of cool, killed baddies in “her majesty’s secret service” and “the world is not enough” on a pair of skis. in addition, snowboarders are reckless, block the bottom of lifts while they strap on their boards, have ridiculous looking goatees, and put their wallets on chains.

in contrast to the storied history of skiing, the origin of snowboarding cam be traced back to muskegon, michigan in 1965 when a frugal man named sherman poppen lopped the wheels off a skateboard to make a toy for his children.

some people say that snowboarders are dangerous but i’m not really bothered because a poor skier is just as bad, if not worse, than a poor snowboarder. an unskilled skier falls to the ground and in an instant, sharp poles fly through the air and impale your skull while two runaway skis sail down the slope like a pair of laser guided torpedoes. a crashed snowboarder lies in a puddle of blood and vomit but as long as you keep your distance, you can avoid contracting the blood borne diseases he might have.

taos ski valley in new mexico is one of the four remaining ski resorts that have banned snowboarders from its mountains. i am glad to hear that this season, the resort has caved in to the demands of the snowboarding scalawags and is opening its trails to both skiers and snowboarders alike.

banning snowboarding is one step forward on the path that leads to communism. we practically live in a police state already; trans fats have been banned in several large cities, if you touch your cell phone will driving a car, you will be sent to a turkish prison, and if you even attempt to bring a bottle of poland spring on an airplane flight, a sniper will shoot you in the face.

this feud then, between snowboarders and skiers over ownership of the mountain is a healthy one. as long as both parties continue their passionate bickering, we will continue to see both skis and snowboards offered at the rental shops and that freedom of choice is beautiful. the day that either skis or snowboards disappear from the mountain will mark the day that liberty dies.

December 29, 2007 at 5:45 pm 3 comments

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