I’m a freelance interactive content strategist and copywriter in Austin, TX. See my work here.
I post about whatever geeky stuff interests me. Sometimes I post funny stuff that I make up. About once a week I post videos of my cat Yeti ignoring me. I welcome reader suggestions and feedback. I seldom get any.
Oh, yeah. I’m also the recording artist currently known as ManChildATX.
Or else I’m just very, very busy and moving in a million directions at once. Or probably both.
In the meantime, you can amuse yourself with this blog, which is full of the blogger’s apologies for not posting frequently enough. Get it? I’m being all meta.
Score one for Paddy Chayefsky. Make that yet another one. Television news continues to approach a reality that more and more resembles the self-interested corporate free-for-all pitched at the lowest common denominator that Chayefsky foresaw in his prophetic screenplay for the 1976 film Network.
Nowhere is this more evident, to me, than in the increasing number of cameos by real-life TV news personalities (notice my avoidance of the word “journalists”) in movie or TV fiction. Where once this was a novelty, it is becoming more and more common. It’s reached critical mass in season 2 of Netflix’s irresistible political thriller House of Cards, showing how topsy-turvy this trope has become.
I mean, it’s not like this is something new. But now the floodgates have opened, and TV news men and women seem to be more eager than ever to play themselves in works of pure fiction.
For instance, it was only when I was “doing research” (read: Googling) for this post that I realized that the woman playing the insipid interviewer of the vice president’s wife in episode 4 was an actual TV journalist, CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield (whom I’d honestly never heard of before). At the time I saw the episode, I thought no respectable TV news person would ever really conduct themselves the way Banfield’s “character” does in the interview with actress Robin Wright’s character. Now I’m not so sure.
Overall the effect of these appearances is to reinforce a feeling that many have already had for a long time: that these people are more interested in pursuing and purveying sensationalist drama than information. Once it was easy to think these cameos were mostly intended to boost the verisimilitude of the host productions. Now it’s obvious that these TV pundits see them as opportunities to promote their own shows and “personal brands.”
The fact that they aren’t worried that these appearances harm their credibility, that they are just as eager in these shows to discuss fictional events with the same “gravitas” they reserve for actual current events, reveals their stark cynicism about the discernment of their viewers. The attitude seems to be, “Everyone already knows we’re just phony gasbags trying to earn ratings, the truth be damned.” How else to explain the prideful glee with which Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow—who devotes almost four minutes of screen time to it—trumpet their appearances in the clips below?
The last clip is a montage of House of Cards cameos from 12 real-life TV news people. Paddy would be too disgusted to gloat.
These are just my pet peeves. I’d love to hear yours.
You’ll see this mostly in older movies and TV shows. A character enters another character’s home or office, and after a greeting, the host will immediately offer the guest a drink:
“Hello, Bob. Drink?”
Sometimes it’s “Care for a drink?” or “Would you like a drink?” but most often it’s just “Drink?”
Has anyone ever offered you a drink like this? Normally people say, “Would you care for a (whiskey, glass of wine, beer, bloody mary, etc.)?” Or something like that. And you’ll never hear it from your lawyer in the middle of the day.
2. Addressing someone by name mid-conversation
I guess this convention developed so that people can keep the characters straight:
“Do you really think so, Jane?”
“I know so, Matilda.”
“But Jane, how can that be true?”
“Oh, Matilda. Sweet naive Matilda.”
I won’t say this never happens, but it’s pretty rare, especially when you start noticing how often characters in movies and TV say it.
3. “I’d like that.”
This one has bugged me since I was a little kid. A character extends an invitation to another character, and instead of saying, “OK” or “Sure” or “Yeah, sounds great” the character will say, “I’d like that.”
“Say, Myrtle, how’d you like to be my guest tonight at the big dance?”
“I’d like that, Jack.”
Actually, it’s nearly as common for the character to follow up this way:
“Say, Myrtle, what say you and me go for a little weekend in the Poconos?”
“I’d like that, Jack. I’d like that very much.”
No one ever says this, do they?
Putting them all together
“I’d like that, Caroline. I’d like that very much.”
What are some other movie/TV dialog clichés we rarely use in real life?
Dear Pathological Liar:
My co-workers and I are in the midst of a big feud. We all pitched in together to buy 100 PowerBall tickets. As it turned out, one of our tickets had the winning numbers for the jackpot. Now the two co-workers who actually went to the store to buy the tickets say they should get a bigger share than anyone else. And they are even fighting about which of them should get the “bigger” bigger share, with one of them claiming the actual winning ticket was an extra he purchased solely for himself. The rest of us think we should split the $185 million evenly among all of us. How do we resolve this?
Unlucky lucky numbers
Oh, yeah—I saw that news story about the big lotto jackpot. As it turns out, the winning numbers were from a ticket I had purchased but somehow misplaced. I do remember bumping into two people coming out of the store, and afterwards I noticed my wallet had been moved from my pants pocket to my coat pocket, and the PowerBall ticket was gone. Fortunately, I have a photographic memory, so when I saw the winning numbers in the newspaper, I was able to remember that they were the exact numbers from my missing ticket. So I know exactly how you can resolve this. You and your co-workers can expect a call from my legal team very soon.
Dear Pathological Liar:
I am 7-years-old. When I grow up I want to be a brain surgeon. My parents don’t have a lot of money, so I want to open a sno-cone stand to raise money for my college fund. But my dad says I am too young to have my own business. What can I say to convince them?
Young and ambitious
Your letter really resonated with me, because my father basically invented modern brain surgery, and my grandfather invented sno. Best of luck!
Dear Pathological Liar:
I’m in a bit of a pickle. I told my fiancée that her diamond engagement ring cost two times my monthly salary, as recommended by the De Beers diamond people. In reality, I don’t have a monthly salary as I make my living as a jewelry thief. Last week my fiancée’s best friend and I had a little too much to drink and wound up sleeping together. The details are a little hazy, but I think in the heat of passion I may have told her everything about my criminal career and the fact that my fiancée’s ring is stolen. Now I’m worried she’ll tell my fiancée. What should I do?
Nervous in love
Dude, you are so totally in the catbird seat here. There’s one and only solution for this, but it’s so obvious I can’t believe you didn’t see it. You need to suddenly disappear for a few days, then reappear in a random parking garage, beaten, disheveled and disoriented. When your fiancée picks you up from the hospital, claim total amnesia about what happened and almost everything else from your previous life. All you remember is her and the fact that you love her. Then, the first time you and she see her friend, scream in fear and cry out, “Don’t let her sic the bad men on me again!” This has worked for me dozens, if not hundreds of times.
ARTIST’S STATEMENT: My work photographing full dog waste bags left lying around Austin’s Lady Bird Lake continues. As I get deeper into the work, I find myself feeling that it is less about the dog excrement, and more about the execreble humans who feel entitled to bag their dogs’ waste without discarding it. Though meaning, of course, is in the eye of the beholder. What do YOU see?
AUSTIN, TX—Social networking behemoth Facebook today issued no comments or statements of any kind on whether it plans to acquire a small personal blog for $19 billion. Or not.
The deal would be the largest ever for a site few have ever heard of, even fewer read, and which, despite half-hearted attempts at monetization through Amazon’s affiliate banner program, has earned no revenue.
The purported transaction comes on the heels of Facebook’s announcement that it would acquire WhatsApp, a text messaging service, for $16 billion.
“Ah, I can’t talk about that. I’m writing a fantasy blog post right now,” said Rich Malley, Oblogatory’s founder and Chief Content Officer, in response to the rumors. “All I can say is that nothing would change around here. Our readers—and I mean both of them—can expect us to continue delivering the same uneven content on the same sporadic schedule.”
If completed, the deal is expected to be for $1 billion in cash, with the rest paid over time in stock options, promissory notes, high-end luxury cars, sumptuous meals, top shelf liquor, vacation getaways, and “pretty, shiny things.”
While refusing to divulge actual numbers, Malley says that traffic for his little-known site is “well over nothing.”
“This is all about potential,” said Margaret Fulsome, an analyst of worthless web properties at Funyon-Ruffles, an investment advisory firm. “Zuckerberg must see some fantastic growth there, or else why all the rumors?”
Others weren’t so sure, with some suggesting that accounts of the deal were intended to drive up Oblogatory’s perceived value to Facebook’s competitors.
“I don’t see Facebook doing this deal for $19 billion,” said Fariq Monsoon, an adviser at Goober-Raisinet, once he stopped laughing. “I mean, maybe if Oblogatory can generate a little buzz with these rumors, some desperate company—I’m thinking Yahoo—might give it some credence and come in with a lowball offer, like $1 billion, maybe.”
Confronted with this speculation, Malley issued a one-word response: “Sold!”
Life in Romania sucked under the totalitarian regime of Nicolae Ceaușescu. But during the 1980s, duped black market VHS tapes provided repressed Romanians much longed for entertainment and tantalizing, if embellished, glimpses of western “freedom.”
All of the films were dubbed into Romanian—all of the roles—by one woman, who voiced the dialog for over 3,000 films.
As seen on Daring Fireball.
“I love that little thing.”
No, that wasn’t Dr./Mrs. Olbogatory discussing my manly endowment. It was her comment on the Bem (pronounced “beam”) HL2022B Bluetooth Mobile Speaker that I bought at Costco a few weeks back.
Dr./Mrs. Oblogatory tends to be ambivalent, at best, about new home technology, so her endorsement says a lot. It says that the combination of form and function in this little device meets her high standards. It’s small and it’s not ugly, both of which rank high on her list. It works great and sounds amazing for its size, which are high on my list.
I paid about $40 for it. It’s not in my nearest Costco anymore, nor is it on Costco.com, but it is on Amazon. It’s listing for $50.42 as I write this, but the price fluctuates often, and it qualifies for 2-day shipping with Amazon Prime.
I listen to a lot of voice programming (NPR, baseball, podcasts, etc.) when I’m in the kitchen, and the iPhone’s speaker, while amazing for its size, isn’t loud enough. Playing this kind of audio through our home stereo didn’t cut it either, because the dynamic range of the podcast-type programming I listen to isn’t a strength of our full-size speakers. I don’t like wearing headphones for very long, and I didn’t want some big, expensive dock-type device. In short, I needed a little something-something to amplify audio from my phone. For 40 bucks, I took a chance on the little Bem.
It works great. It comes with a little patch cord, so you can connect it to the iPhone’s headphone jack, or you can connect via Bluetooth. I do both. The patch cable connection sounds a little better, but Bluetooth gives you more mobility with your phone. Another plus about the patch cable is that I can use it with my iRig iPhone guitar interface and use the Bem like a mini practice amp.
How does it sound? Great for a little tiny speaker. It’s especially ideal for the talk programming I use it for most.
Are you going to get room-filling sound out of this little guy? No, but you’ll get ample smartphone sound reinforcement and good clarity in a small, wireless package.
When it’s time for a new tube of toothpaste, open the tube and empty it into a pile on the side of the sink (or, for the fastidious, into a clean cereal bowl). Then, when you need toothpaste, just dip into the pile. Saves scads of time squeezin’.
Children are a drain on productivity. Don’t have them, or leave them with relatives.
Simplify your email: divide all messages into two categories, essential and hyper-essential. Transfer messages into one category or the other, then look at neither.
Skip time-consuming showers. Instead, slather your body in hand sanitizer and allow to evaporate dry. As an added bonus, you’ll never launder another towel again.
Schedule all meetings to end before they begin. At the end of the year, you’ll have an extra month to play around with.
Take your house off the grid and put your dog on a magneto-equipped treadmill.
Pray via text message.
Switch to a 100% locavore diet. (Personally, the only exception I make to this rule is when locavores are out of season.)
Confine all weeping to the last Saturday of the month.
The Spleen: Our Overlooked Center of Empathy
Saving the Planet, One Beer Can Pull-tab at a Time
Data Collection Data Metadata: Existential Threat, or Hope for a One World Utopia?
Profound Truths: Hidden Meanings in the Ad Lib Mumblings of Michael Cera
From Blacked Out to Clued In: Life Changing Insights from My Near-Fatal Alcoholic Binge
Happy Human Puppies: How Maternal Licking Can End Juvenile Crime
Workshop: How to Upcycle an ICBM Missile into Toothbrushes for the Undeveloped World
Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned from My Wise and Kind Robot
What If We Created a Global Ponzi Scheme of Love and Niceness?
Urine Luck: You Are What You Micturate
The New Credulity: If It’s Too Good to Be True, It’s Probably Worth Sharing
Dear Pathological Liar:
I am a 17-year-old girl. My mom is really old-fashioned, and thinks I am too young to go to the prom without a chaperone. What can I say to convince her I’m trustworthy and responsible?
This is a tough problem. But I remember when I went to my prom. I was testing a new prototype of the Lear Jet. Man, what an impressive entrance. That year my date was Madonna, but it wasn’t like we were an item or anything. I was far too young for her, and aside from the fact that I wasn’t really into her type, being enrolled in high school and MIT at the same time was really keeping me busy with school work. But my mom did Madonna’s eyebrows, and Madonna owed my mom for something like five months of eyebrows, and so she worked it off by being my prom date. But she was really nice, and sent me a note afterwards with a check for $500,000 inside. But naturally I returned the money because with all I had already earned off of my artificial heart valve invention, I felt Madonna needed the money more. I was really sad a few years later when I had to sue Madonna for copyright infringement over her theft of my song “Papa Don’t Preach.”
Hope this helps.
Dear Pathological Liar:
In the winter, I find it difficult to keep the temperature consistent throughout my house. I can be freezing in my study, then walk into the den and it will be sweltering in there. What’s going on and how can I fix it?
Blowin’ Hot and Cold
The answer to your problem is something called zoned radiant capacitive heat, which I invented, although I am having to sue the people at Hallawell Industries to have my patents enforced. My lawyer is Samuel Alito, a Supreme Court justice who is a good friend of my dad’s. He took the case to help me out, and also because he’s got a personal grudge against the CEO of Hallawell over the way he abandoned my dad, who had to save that entire village in North Vietnam all by himself. Yeah, Alito and my dad are tight. Just don’t tell him I made out with his wife once! Ol’ Sammy has a vicious temper! I saw him and my dad beat a guy to death with frozen tires one time.
Let me know if this works.
Dear Pathological Liar:
I received some bad news from the doctor. While I will probably eventually be OK, I will have to spend some time in the hospital, and some of the treatments could be quite painful and disfiguring. What do I tell my three children, aged 6, 3 and 2, to help them understand without freaking them out?
Sick and Soon to Be Tired
Oh, yeah, I know all about those painful and disfiguring treatments. I was trekking the Brazilian rainforest by myself once, and had just discovered an unknown tributary of the Amazon when this troop of monkeys came out of nowhere and beat the living shit out of me! Man, I was almost scared there for a second! But I quickly fashioned a shotgun and ammunition out of materials I foraged on the jungle floor and I was able to repel the monkey attack. But this one little monkey was hurt worse than I was and I could tell he was sorry for what he’d done. So I nursed him back to health with these herbal poultices I made up using my knowledge of the pharmacological properties of every single species of jungle fruit. There were some nasty side effects and it was tough on the little guy’s system, but he pulled through. I eventually taught that little monkey sign language and he is now the mayor of a small town on the edge of the rainforest. We still exchange Christmas cards, and I am the godfather to three of his seven children. He is contemplating a run for pope. One of the remedies I concocted for him now forms the basis for every single type of commercial chemotherapy drug. I have tried and tried to get the pharmaceutical industry to use some of the other concoctions I used to heal my monkey friend, but they are too dumb to understand the biological processes involved. Just yesterday, I was forced to sue them in Federal Court because I am sick of seeing people suffer unnecessarily. The judge said he was probably going to just issue a summary judgment in my favor and award me the $8 billion, but he wanted to think about it. I should know tomorrow, or the day after, at the latest.
All my best.
Advertiser: Feline Foodies Cat Food
Synopsis: A woman stands in her kitchen holding her cat. She pets the cat and we can tell there’s a great bond between them. With sadness, the woman speaks to the cat: “I’m so sorry, Mr. Waffles. I tried everything, but I just can’t find a cat food that you enjoy. So I guess this is goodbye.” She opens the oven door and is just about to put the cat inside when a neighbor walks in and sees what’s going on. “Wait!” the neighbor cries with alarm, holding up a can of the product. “Try Feline Foodies.” The woman, still holding the cat, stands up and closes the oven door. Her eyes brighten as she speaks with a hopeful tone, “Feline Foodies, huh?”
Bumper: Finicky feline? Don’t kill it—feed it Feline Foodies!
Advertiser: LaGree Wealth Management
A well-groomed, expensively dressed man is driving his Maybach through a wealthy community. He pulls into the driveway of a large estate, presses a remote in his car and the filigreed wrought iron gate opens. He’s home. As he cruises slowly up the long drive towards the grand mansion still some distance away, he surveys his domain with satisfaction: the laborers tending to the extensive manicured gardens, the poolman cleaning the olympic-sized pool, the glass-walled jewel box of an outbuilding where his many other pristine luxury vehicles are garaged and displayed. Suddenly he slams on the brakes and stops short. Over a tall, ivy-colored stone wall he sees the movement of a commercial construction crane on the neighboring estate. A closer shot of the crane arm shows it lowering some kind of massive dome onto a tower. Down the length of the crane arm are the words, “Felkman Fine Home Astronomical Observatories.” Close up on the man—his face looks stricken.
Bumper: LaGree Wealth Management: Which Percent of the 1 Percent Are You In?
Advertiser: McSwill’s Lite Beer
A balding, fat, middle-aged man is lying on a lounge chair on a crowded down-at-the-heels resort beach somewhere in the coastal U.S. He’s restless. His average-looking wife, tanned to a crisp, dozes in the chair next to him, earbuds in and oblivious. The man notices a gorgeous young bikini-clad woman walking in their direction. Through quick shot-reverse shots, it is apparent this sex kitten is headed straight for him. A close up on her face shows her seductive smile. Just as she nears, the man starts to rise from his chair. The young woman brusquely pushes him back down and stands over him, straddling the chair. As the stunned man glances over anxiously and sees that his wife is still oblivious, the young woman reaches for something at her side. A close up shows she has a beer can holster affixed to the bikini bottom at her tawny hip. She draws an ice-cold can of McSwill’s Lite from the holster, hands it to the man, winks and walks on. Close up of the pull tab opening, releasing sudsy McSwill’s Lite with a pfft. The man’s wife stirs as he takes the first dreamy sip. “Hey, where’d you get that?” the wife says in a whiny nasal voice. The man shrugs. He glances around. The woman has vanished. He closes his eyes, takes another delicious pull at the can. “Got another one?” the wife asks. “Nope,” the man says, smacking his lips with evident satisfaction.
Bumper: Some things you’ll never have. But you can have a McSwill’s.
In deciding what to ship, Amazon said it may consider previous orders, product searches, wish lists, shopping-cart contents, returns and even how long an Internet user’s cursor hovers over an item.—WSJ: Amazon Wants to Ship Your Package Before You Buy It
“Hi, honey. How was your day?”
“Oh, pretty good. Anything in the mail?”
“No, but you got a package delivery from Amazon.”
“Really? I didn’t order anything from Amazon.”
“No? Well, look, honey, if there’s something you’ve been wanting to tell me about your sex life…”
“Huh? What are you talking about?”
“I’m talking about the 55-gallon drum of personal lubricant that got wheeled into our den this afternoon.”
“Who’s Larry? Your, um, boyfriend?”
“Boyfriend? No. Larry’s the guy at work who pulled up the page with the 55-gallon drum of personal lubricant on my work computer while I was in a meeting.”
“Well, does Larry have a wet vac and a barrel dolly? Because the goddamn drum is leaking and now we have an oil slick in our fucking den.”
“Not oil. That stuff is water-based.”
“Whatever. Tell your dipshit friend Larry he needs to get his ass over here, get that lube drum out of our house and clean up our new laminate floors.”
Dear People of People (Magazine):
“Infesta and Johnny, 10 Years After the Bachelorette: How Does Their Love Survive?” So screams the cover of your latest issue.
Based on my own personal experience, if I had to guess how their love survives, I’d say it survives on three things:
1. Cheap box wine
2. Highly effective contraception
3. Talk therapy
But, hey, that’s just me. I admit it: 10 years ago I was one of the people who said Infesta wasn’t worthy of Johnny’s love. When she threw cold oatmeal in his face during the all-important “final attrition” episode, I thought it was lowdown and mean. Ooh, Infesta, I said to myself, you are a belly-crawling snake of a woman!
Well, it just shows to go you! Here it is 10 years later and Infesta and Johnny are keeping their love alive! Their inspiring story serves to prove that no matter how venal, stupid and sociopathic someone is, there is a reality television program to help him or her find a suitable mate.
There are so many Infestas and Johnnys out there. I can’t wait until their offspring start breeding!
Keep up the great work, you’re fabulous!
M. Ravid Ladley