Sunday, December 26, 2010

Guilt Inducing Advertising

I have a lot of respect for the men who make good advertisements. I suppose this comes from a few reasons. Firstly, some of them are paid to make people laugh and buy things (sort of like what i wish would happen to me). In that way, they're like street performers who are never hassled by police. In another light, these ad-men who work on Madison avenue (Mad Men, if you will. Huh, that's sort of catchy sounding. Maybe I'll make a TV series about it.*) are paid to prey on our deepest desires and fears. Sort of like what the boogey-man would do if he were to ever sell out and stop hiding in my closet, playing my desire to go to the bathroom against my fear of being eaten by him.
*Wait, really? They already made it? Damnit.

Of course, every now and then, this backfires, and the Mad-Men make a commercial that I find so offensive that I boycott the product. Blockbuster was recently guilty of this. Not that it matters to them; I go to Blockbuster about as often as I start conversations with pretty girls I don't know. But anyway, you can see the offending commercials here and here.

Basically, the commercials point out that Blockbuster gets new releases instantly, while you need to wait for them from Netflix. I resent this on two levels. First, the ad is appealing to my desire for instant gratification, my greed. They are implying because they are suggesting that I cannot wait for a movie, and that I should not have to. Unfortunately for them, this doesn't work. Previews released long in advance of movies ensure that I am highly skilled at waiting long periods of time for movies. Furthermore, I resent that they assume my appetite for instant satisfaction is so large that they think I'll fall for it. Acknowledging that at some level, this appeal works makes me feel guilty. At this rate, I'll wait an extra 28 days after movies are released to Netflix just to spite Blockbuster.

More importantly, this commercial doesn't work for me because the things in questions are things I am used to waiting for. Anyone who has been in an ER knows that 28 days is a pretty accurate estimate of how long you'll be there before someone sees you. Similarly, a restaurant that makes you wait 28 days is something I would personally like. Once a month is about how often I go out to restaurants. I would just drop by the restaurant one month before I intended to go; this sounds pretty easy to deal with to me. Waiting 28 days for a dentist gives even more of an excuse not to ever go to them (as if I needed more excuses not to visit someone who stabs me in the mouth).

If they really wanted to make this commercial work, they'd make it something that I'm absolutely unable to resist for 28 days. I don't know what that is, but I can tell you this: it's not showering.

Hope everyone is enjoying the holidays!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I Mess Up While Dreaming II

I'm a firm believer that dreams can be manifestations of things that concern you. Last night, I had that confirmed in an amusing, but unpleasant way. 

Dream-Self is walking through Central Park. As I walked, I saw a bill of money flitting past me. I stopped to pick it up, and looked at it. It was a fifty dollar bill! Or at least, it was what I imagine a fifty dollar bill would look like. "Cool," Dream-self says, and pockets it. Then I noticed that there was more money whisking its way across the ground. "Ah. Money," Dream-self realizes. "This is very strange. Why is this happening?" I picked another bill up, and saw that it was a fresh twenty dollar bill. It was around then that I noticed a few people running around stuffing their pockets with the bills that were floating everywhere. "This is a socially acceptable practice," Dream-self notices. Still, I didn't follow suit and grab money by the fistful like everyone else was doing. I left the park, re-entered from another entrance. I casually stooped to pick up another twenty.  "No big deal, here. Act natural, not like there's money flying around or anything" Dream-self  thinks.

So out of thousands of dollars floating around, I grabbed 90.  "This is super-duper! Maybe I could grab a few more, and get a lot of money. Like, $250." Make it rain, Dream-self.

Anyway, it turned out it wasn't that big of a deal. Somehow or other, Dream-self found out that all of the money was counterfeit, and in a cunning (i.e. incomprehensible plan), the counterfeiters planned to get it into circulation without exchanging it for real money. So at the end of the dream, I had 90 fake dollars. I wasn't even that disappointed with this for some reason. I briefly wondered if it would be possible to spend it anyway, but then decided that it would be immoral.

This is about when I got a phone call that woke me up, but let's recap.

1) Wealth is out there for the taking. My reaction is curiosity more than interest or greed.
2) Everyone is grabbing money. I'd rather not be seen with such bourgeois interests as free money, so I wander around and act as if large quantities of money flying around are something I see often.
3) $90 sounds fantastic to me. Untold wealth is mine!
4) The money is fake. My cool indifference seems justified now, but I still don't have money.

I fear that I will never have anything nice.

Expect a flurry of blog activity soon. I'm on vacation and won't have much to do. If you have ideas for fun, break activities, please let me know!
Hope all is well!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Frightening Goodbys

For someone who is so bad at personal interaction, I spend a surprisingly large amount of time thinking about conversations. One of the things that really gets me are all of the ridiculous ways we have come up with to ending them.

"Would ya look at the time!"
"But... you don't have a watch, ma'am."
"No, no. I meant that you should go look at the time, just... someplace else."
"Excuse me?"
"I'm asking you to leave."

There are a few in particular that stick in my mind though, mostly because they terrify me. These are irrational, and I know they're not meant to be taken in the way I understand them, but there's still that split second where I have problems dissociating what someone literally says with what someone actually means. Here are three examples...

1: "Break a leg!" Of course it's not meant to be taken seriously. Still, who even says that in jest? I always imagine it with some sort of ominous leer, implying definite foreshadowing of something (maybe a broken leg, for instance). Why say that? Are you trying to insinuate that your hired muscle has it out for my shins? More frightening is the chance that you have strange hypnotic powers, and can command me to break someone else's leg. Either way, this parting comment either ends with me in a wheelchair or in handcuffs, and neither of those is too appealing.

2: "See you later, alligator!" It seems harmless enough. But it really all depends on how you understand "alligator." If it's meant in direct address, then you are confused. I do not happen to be an alligator. If, however, it's the reason you are leaving (which of course I assume it is. I know I'm not an alligator), then the way I understand it is "See you later, there is an alligator very close to us!" Alligator is an explanation, but because you are in a rush, you cut the explanation a tiny bit short, and only said the essential facts. I.e, you are leaving, because there is an alligator close to me. I should probably run, too. For some reason, "In a while, crocodile" does not convey this urgency. It sort of implies that crocodiles are slower.

3: "I'll catch you on the flip side." This one just makes me feel like I'm tripping, but don't know why. Flip side of what? Is the earth flat? Do we live on a coin, and is it about to be heads or tails? I'm not adequately conveying the sense of terror I feel about there being a flip side to this existence, but trust me, I find this terrifying. Maybe you agree.

Sorry (you're welcome?) for the long absence! I've had a (generic complaint about being busy these past few weeks, yada yada yada). I really do enjoy writing these, so I'll be looking for time in the future. Things are shaping up to be a bit better now that the semester is almost over though, so now the limit to how often I post will be how often I'm funny. I guess you should expect a posting once every blue moon.

On an unrelated note, one of my friends is a great bassoonist, and auditioned for the youtube symphony orchestra. She made it to the finals, which is huge! It's an amazing opportunity for her, and you can help her by clicking this link and voting for her once a day until Friday. You can also help by telling all of your friends to do the same. You'll be helping me, too, because Brigid doesn't know this, but if she wins, she's taking me to Australia in her carry-on luggage.

Feel free to tell me more conversation enders that I might find terrifying, just please don't use them with me. Hope all is well!

ps: How great is the lego bartender I drew in? Feel free to praise my artistic talents.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

RA Shenanigan no. 1

Part of my job as an RA is to wander around the building looking for potential issues. I still find this amusing; it's as if the mystery gang decided to send Shaggy looking for ghosts. I'm more interested in locating interesting food smells than anything else, and if I were to find a problem, I'd probably shout "Yoinks!" and run away.

Through some fluke, I happened to be on duty the first day all of the first years were moved in. Now, I'm an old hand at this. This is my third year as an RA, and at least my second year as a jaded person. In contrast, the first years were entering, well, their first year at college, and most of them are still in their 18th year of joyful energy. So don't get me wrong; I like them, but they are not my people.

So no shit, there I was, wandering around looking for problems (i.e. interesting smells) when I saw my boss at the other end of the hall. Simultaneously, I smelled something like cotton candy. "Did you find it?," my boss asked me?

Gears slowly started creaking in my head. Find it... I thought to myself. Aha! The smell! He wants to know if I found the funny smell! I'm a good RA, yes I am, yes I am... "You mean the cotton candy smell?

FLASHBACK: Earlier this evening, I ask my boss where he left a form I needed to pick up. He replies in a text message. I look for the form, find it. End flashback.

The gears are now spinning, relatively smoothly, if reluctantly. Wait... He doesn't mean the smell. He didn't even smell it. Now if I find the cotton candy, I need to share. Jinkies.

"No, I meant the form I left out for you. But now that you mention it, yeah it does smell funny. Is that a hookah?"

My brain is running at full capacity. That is a hookah. He didn't notice it before, but now, I have brought it to his attention. There is no escape.

"That, or a cotton candy machine!," I replied, cheerfully. Please fall for this. I hate confrontations. He's not falling for this.

"You should go do something about this, Brendan. Enjoy!"

So there I was, first day of the year, knocking on a stranger's door with the fun task of telling him he was in trouble. Yoinks. Let's just call him Smoky, to protect his identity. Smoky opened the door, and I introduced myself. I then proceeded to tell him that smoking in his room is a policy violation, and that I will be documenting the situation FYI, that is the full extent of my power. Really. I 'document situations.' That's about it. This is about as severe as it sounds, and I thought it was over. But then Smoky decided he wanted to start bartering.

"Look, do you have to document this?" Smoky asked me as I was about to leave. I proceeded to explain that it wasn't a big issue, but yes, I had to document it. "Well, can you let me off because this is my first violation?" Smoky asked me, with begging eyes. Of course this is your first violation. You have been here 6 hours, how could it be anything else? I explained that I couldn't let him off the hook, especially since my boss saw me enter the room, and was expecting the incident report presently.

Now, I've made it clear that it is my responsibility to "document the situation" and that if I don't, I get in trouble. I've explained that it's not a big deal. But Smoky wasn't ready to give up just yet. He extends his final offer. "Well, what if, in exchange for not writing me up, you can come hang out in my room whenever you want?" You are so perceptive. That is why I became an RA; I want to hang out with freshmen and smoke in their rooms.

The best response is the same as the best medicine. I laughed in his face and wandered off to 'document the situation.'