Aug 02

Friday Crap Roundup XXV

I’ve somehow made it to the 25th FCR. That’s nearly half a year of these posts. Sneferu was a mere kitten when I started this blog. Today’s he’s a year old.

EXIF_JPEG_T422

And he can hardly contain himself.

We’ve got a few more weeks until Djoser’s birthday in October. I’m sure that will be equally exciting. In the meantime sit back and enjoy the FCR.

Continue reading

Jun 05

History Wednesday: Frequency Manipulation

Today I took my daughter swimming at the condo association pool next to the Command Center. Being an exceptionally nice day in Boise, some of the neighborhood kids were already there. One of them had her iPhone or whatever plugged into a speaker, playing her list of jammin’ MP3s. This experience proved to be exactly as excruciating as it sounds.

EXIF_JPEG_T422

You’d better “Beliebe” it.

Replace Justin Bieber with, say, Wham! and the iPhone with that noted paragon of past 2T culture, Z-103, and you’d have a scene very reminiscent of the Putt n’ Plunge during the mid-80s. Of course, my mind working the way it does I thought to myself, “Hey, it could have been Z-43.”

No, I’m not making an obscure Ed Wood reference here.

Continue reading

May 04

The Twaddle of Twitter

Although I’ve had an account there for a couple years, I’ve only recently warmed up to Twitter. As a writer, when it comes to social media I prefer the free-form style of Facebook. There are certain things which simply cannot be said in 140 characters.

Still, there are plenty of sophisticated people on Twitter who tweet intelligent things. Indeed, attempting to compose a complete thought – complete with the requisite hashtags and replies – in the space provided can be a worthwhile challenge.

EXIF_JPEG_T422

Especially if you’re not saying, “R U A BELIEBER 2? OMG! LOL ❤ #corporatewhore”

I set my Facebook postings to automatically copy to my Twitter account. Fully 75 percent of my tweets come from that. However I’ll go over to Twitter and post directly there from time to time. I’ll do this especially if I want to reach people who aren’t necessarily on Facebook.

Given my penchant for snark, you may be surprised that those of you who “follow” me find yourselves in very good company. Among others, my followers include the Mayor of Boise, a major news outlet, a former NFL player, members of the Idaho Legislature, published authors and even a United States Senator.

473px-Jon_Tester,_official_110th_Congress_photo

Flattop and all.

While this is all well and good, the number one reason I’m on Twitter is to advertise SB. You know, get as many eyeballs on the blog as possible. That said, my numbers were, shall we say, lacking. So a couple weeks ago I came across one of those Twitter “follow back” accounts, which is kind of an electronic chain letter, but without the threats of eternal damnation.

It’s also free. As anyone who’s been online for any amount of time knows, “online marketing” is one of three things on the Internet you never, ever pay for.

nncropped

The other two, of course, are news and porn.
Image credit: Luke Hollins

So did this little ploy work? Well, sure. Within moments I was getting new followers left and right. Now I’m up to nearly 100! Woo hoo! Yes I know having only 100 followers sucks, but let me have my moment, dammit!

The real problem is I didn’t get a lot of follows from the aforementioned sophisticated people. However, I did get a shitload of followers among 15-year-olds who worship Lil Wayne and communicate in wingdings. That’s OK I suppose, but …

Lil_Wayne_PSD_by_psdlab

… let’s just say I’m not reaching my target demographic here.
Image credit: ~psdlab

So, my faithful, sophisticated and snarky SB readers, help a guy out and follow me. My Twitter feed is getting stupider by the day.

Apr 03

History Wednesday: The Incompetent Traitor

Ah, Norway. Home of cross-country skiing, world-famous fjords, and a black metal scene which makes even the worst excesses of 80s bands such as Van Halen or Mötley Crüe look like Gilligan’s Island. Although technically neutral in World War II, the Norwegian people suffered greatly at the hands of the Nazis. A primary cause was one of their own.

QuislingOslo1942

This guy.
Image credit: David.wintzer

Vidkun Quisling’s career started out innocuously enough, as a respected Norwegian military officer with extensive diplomatic experience. In the early 1930s he served two stints as Minister of Defense in popularly-elected conservative governments. Clearly he would have been much more successful in life had he just left well enough alone. Nevertheless despite being a truly awful politician, Quisling let his ambition get the best of him. As a result he stumbled and bumbled his way to becoming one the most notorious traitors the world has ever seen.

In the 1930s far-right politics were the rage in many parts of Europe. So in May 1933, Quisling and others founded the Nasjonal Samling, or National Unity Party. Clearly inspired by Adolf Hitler’s and Benito Mussolini’s fascist movements, NS attempted to become Norway’s answer to the Nazis, with Quisling establishing relations with the Nazis and the Italian Fascists. He even gave himself the title of Fører. However unlike Hitler’s well-organized machine of evil, the NS proved to be about as effective as the Keystone Kops.

KeystoneKops

Presumably with “Yakety Sax” playing in the background.

In sharp contrast to Hitler and the Nazis, Quisling and the NS never enjoyed any appreciable popularity among voters. In Norway’s 1933 election, Nasjonal Samling received a mere 2.5 percent of the vote and failed to elect anyone to the Norwegian parliament, the Storting. Rife with factionalization, by 1935 it appeared the party would quietly fade away.

pogs

You know, kind of like pogs.

Despite Quisling’s virtually nonexistent PR skills and his penchant for pompous, stupid gaffes, he somehow managed to keep the NS afloat, albeit just barely. In the run-up to Norway’s 1936 elections, Quisling boastfully predicted his party would win at least 10 seats in the Storting. In reality, NS performed worse in the polls than it did three years earlier. At this point neither the Norwegians nor Quisling’s supposed allies in Italy and Germany took him seriously.

Norway tried to stay neutral when World War II broke out in 1939, but shit got real for them anyway in April 1940, when the British mined the channel separating the North and Baltic Seas, including Norwegian waters, in an effort to close Axis shipping routes. In response, Germany invaded Norway the following day.

Meanwhile Quisling, who nobody listened to, tried to get everyone to listen to him. In his usual hilariously bombastic style, on 8 April Quisling burst into the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation’s Oslo studio and proclaimed himself head of a new government with his buddies as ministers. If you took over your local Top 40 pop station and issued a fatwa against Justin Bieber, you’d achieve similar results.

But now that I think about it, you might get some traction out of that.

The Nazis, recognizing some sort of friendly Norwegian government would be advantageous, supported this. King Haakon VII, however, flatly refused to recognize Quisling’s Norwegian government, and the actual Norwegian government voted unanimously to support the king. Quisling attempted to have the legitimate government arrested, but officers simply ignored his orders. Realizing Quisling didn’t have the juice to pull off a coup d’etat, the Nazis brushed him aside and occupied Norway their own damn selves.

However, in NS the Nazis still found a group of useful idiots to help them run the country. The Nazi Reichskommissar Josef Terboven gradually assimilated NS members into the occupation government. Finally in February 1942 the Nazis agreed to let Quisling become “minister-president” of Norway, ostensibly making him the country’s leader. In practice, however, Terboven retained effective control over Norway.

Quisling's_office_at_the_Royal_Palace_1945

Quisling did get a sweet office out of the deal, though.

During his three years in “power” Quisling took part in the usual fascist idiom, such as banning Jews from the country and attempting to establish his own cult of personality, going so far as to declare himself a descendant of Odin. He attempted repeatedly to become truly independent from Germany, meeting with Hitler on several occasions for that very reason. As usual, he was ignored. His incompetence as a national leader was further exposed when Norwegian resistance operatives smuggled intelligence on the German V-2 missile from Berlin to Oslo … on Quisling’s own airplane. The intelligence eventually made its way to London.

Deeply despised by his own people, Quisling’s regime, such as it was, came to an end in May 1945. Norwegians responded with unbridled jubilation. King Haakon VII and the legitimate government under Prime Minister Johan Nygaardsvold – who spent the war in exile in London – were restored to power. Quisling was arrested, tried for treason and executed in October 1945. Even before the end of the war “quisling” had become a synonym for “traitor” in several languages. The military officer who just wanted to run the country instead became quite possibly the most hated Scandinavian of the 20th Century.

Today Quisling’s only appreciable support comes from elements of the Norwegian black metal scene. Yeah, he should have left well enough alone.

Mar 17

More Embarrassing 80s Videos

A little over a month ago I wrote about a couple video relics from the 80s which stuck with me over the years. As a writer I find this is a pretty good well to go back to. If my site stats are any indication, you agree. So here we are again.

If you know what the image below is, this will all be review. As for the rest of you, prepare for an education.

guard

No fair Googling or using Tineye.

You Can’t Beat Our Meat

I had the “honor” of working at the Wendy’s in the 2T in 1991. Before I say anything else, let me assure from personal experience that this is 100 percent REAL.

As those of you who have worked fast food know – which I assume is damn near all of you – the job sucks. It’s sweaty. It’s greasy. You don’t get enough hours to qualify for benefits, and you have to wear the same goddamn shirt every day. You’re also controlled by corporate shills who just don’t understand the “younger scene.”

EXIF_JPEG_T422

“But, but, everybody loves Justin Bieber!”

And no, I didn’t live in the “good old days.” Consider this 1989 training video on “grill skills,” which I was instructed with in those dark days. It’s a bit slow at times. I’m posting only the second half, but stick with it and bathe in its innate cheesiness. The first half features a lot of the late Dave Thomas blathering about your “important job” in a curious accent. If you really want to watch that, it’s here.

Who’s up for chili?

Check out the rap and country rock excellence here. It’s somewhere between Biz Markie and, um, Billy Ray Cyrus or something. Incidentally, they had me wearing the exact same teal shirt featured, unfortunately without the glitter.

I was so glad when I got to leave and go to Idaho State later that year. You have no idea.

Canoe, Canoe?

Oh man, every time this spot appeared on MTV I cringed. Just cringed. Even though at the time I had no chance whatsoever of dating a hot chick – and if I somehow managed to succeed I would have blown a gasket – I knew this was just … wrong. If you kids think the marketing for Axe is over the top (and you’d be correct), you should have seen what it was like a generation ago.

So from the same pheromone experts who brought you such venerable female magnets as English Leather and British Sterling, Canoe allows you to talk to hotties familiar with international maritime signal flags, and smell like you raided a 10-year-old’s Christmas stocking in the process.

“We now return to Julius Caesar on an Aldis Lamp.”

I don’t know about you, but to this day I’m pretty sure if the first words out of my mouth in any singles setting were, “Oh! Canoe canoe?” a restraining order wouldn’t be too far behind. Afterwards, every once in a great while MTV would redeem itself by giving me a glimpse of the mystery girl in the Smiths’ “How Soon is Now?” video, but usually this crap was followed by more crap like Night Ranger.

The Proto-King of Cars

OK, this never aired nationally per se, but the basic concept plagued several media markets throughout the country in the 80s. The 2T was one of them. As a matter of fact, this guy like the 2T so much he actually moved there from somewhere back east later in his career. I want to say he was originally based in upstate New York, but I’m not 100 percent certain about that.

Anyway, meet Dave Campo, the undisputed master of local used car ads. In the 2T he worked for an outfit called Latham Motors, which was at the time the local Chrysler dealership. Sadly I was unable to find any Campo-era Latham Motors ads, but in his heyday his modus operandi was the same for all his clients. Take a look:

“With all the candy!”

Campo made what the industry calls a “shitload” of ads during his career, easily over 1,000. To this day anyone who lived in the 2T while he was active can recite the basic ad structure word for word, myself included. Campo died a few years ago. His favorite client Latham Motors went under at around the same time. Yet his legacy lives on in loudmouth used car TV spots to this day.

Is the US a lucky nation or what?

Feb 16

That Miku Thing on YouTube

I’m in the 2T this weekend with my daughter. One of our favorite bonding activities is watching YouTube videos together. She’s into things like Annoying Orange, Kids React and, um … Fred.

fred

Seriously, they gave this guy a TV show. Twice.
Image credit: Scott Bedard

But the most perplexing YouTube icon we’ve come across is Hatsune Miku. Now this requires some explanation. Through software developed by a Japanese company, Miku is a programmable anime character who can sing and dance to anything you want. I think that’s how it works, anyway. Creating videos of a fictional Japanese singer is not high on my to-do list.

At the risk of sounding cliché, Miku is big in Japan.


Really, REALLY big.

As one can imagine, this is a perfect formula for creating YouTube videos for people who can’t get dates. There are well over 2 MILLION of ’em, in all their glory. Unsurprisingly most follow J-pop or anime themes, but others dare to be different.

Example: my daughter HATES Justin Bieber. Fortunately Miku has a video for that.


This sums up her feelings on the matter pretty well.

Another example: if you know me well, you know that one of my favorite bands of all time is Rush. If you know Rush well, you know that they’re about as far away from J-pop as one can get. Yeah, I think you know where I’m going with this one ….


Absolutely dumbfounding.

CRACKED.com update: Unfortunately both of my submissions were sent back to the pile. I’m not too concerned about it, though. I have plenty of other submission ideas, and content that doesn’t make the cut may just wind up here.