Sunday, September 30, 2012

Dear Halloween Detracters

I was recently at a store with my friends Kentucky Jim and Cindyloo.  We were excited because it was finally about time that the Halloween displays were coming out, because Halloween has always been a big holiday in my group of friends. Since freshman year of college we've had a big Halloween party every year, and we come from all around to get together for it.  I remember several occasions where we killed time at Halloween superstores simply to look at all the awesome decorations and less awesome costumes.  I also have spent ridiculous amounts of time on costumes in the past, and those costumes were awesome.  I was Walter Sobchick, a Luchador in a fancy satin embossed suit, and Big Daddy from Kick Ass, just to name a few of my award winning costumes* *no awards were won.  As Walter, I got drunk and screamed at my friend Spike who was dressed as Donny until I was hoarse.  So, it stands to reason I would really want see what the great Halloween purveyors of America had concocted this year.  Also, Cindyloo seems to have some sort of fetish that involves Laffy Taffy and skulls, and I am not about to get between her and that, so we trolled through the store until we found the displays.

Initially, I was elated.  It seemed that the store had done some good work.  They had a scary haunted house suspended from the ceiling, and things seemed done up very nicely.  Something seemed off the closer I got, however.  It seemed too bright, too cheery.  I at first wrote this off to the florescent lights of the store, but then looked beyond the Halloween display, and saw this:

This photo was taken on September 24.  That is three months to the day before Christmas Eve.  To put that in better terms, three months is a full quarter of the year.  Should we start gearing up for New Years?  That's only a week after Christmas.  Halloween itself was exactly one month and one week away.  Honestly, it was a little early even for the Halloween decorations.  Yet, directly behind those, we get lighted angels, reindeer, and snowmen.  Why not throw in animatronic turkeys and a Diwali display to either side while we are at it?  Maybe they should be upselling Easter egg kits?

Don't get me wrong.  I am totally down with the Christmas spirit.  The problem I have is that people call it the "holiday spirit" like Christmas is the only holiday.  This would be like me stating that I have the jellybean spirit simply because I love lime jellybeans.  It completely disregards cherry, lemon, orange, and grape jellybeans.  They are no less real or delicious than the lime, but I am not acknowledging them in the least.  I am treating them like retched licorice jellybeans that taste like someone punched you in the nards and you need to pass out or vomit, which is what your disregard for Halloween feels like.  Just a big old right hook to the nards. 

Let's all just cool out, sit back, and enjoy the holidays as they come.  No Christmas displays should ever be erected until Black Friday.  If we continue to do this, I will continue to wear my green velour jogging suit while taking rips off a bottle of gin and screaming "Happy Patty's Day!" at all the kids in the park throughout November. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Dear Shopper on the Same Routine as Me

This happens to me every time I shop.  I run into the same person in almost every aisle I go into.  No matter how I alter what aisles I go down, that person keeps in perfect step with me.  There seems to be no rhyme or reason.  You are not the first person to have done this to me, and you certainly not the best.  You are just the most recent, so therefore the most annoying.  There is no possible way we need to get the same exact things as each other in this grocery store.  I am a giant, twenty something man.  You are a small sixty something woman.  There doesn't seem like there would be a huge overlap in our diets, yet you continue to block me and slow me down in every aisle I go down. 

I was fine all the way through produce.  I apparently just missed you, because when we first crossed paths, you had your cart blocking the poultry fridge.  I know I just missed you in produce, because the only thing you had in your cart was one banana and one squash.  Not one bunch of bananas.  One solitary Chiquita.  Who in Neptune's saltwater-logged beard buys one banana?  I think the FBI actually puts you on some kind of watch list for prying off one banana from the bunch and deciding "Yup, that's just the right amount." Regardless, you were nowhere near the chicken, yet you insisted on blocking it with your cart.   I moved your cart, and you gave me a reproachful look when you came back for your beloved duo of banana and squash. 

To my credit, and my later regret, I let this pass, and wheeled several aisles away to peruse the selection of delicious and nutritious maple syrups, as I am want to do.  You see, if I have a third vice, after cigars and gambling, it would be maple.  Maple syrup, candy, fudge, whatever you can find that is maple, I will fight to obtain it.  Finding a bottle of good vintage and viscosity, I began muttering that waffles must be purchased, and purchased forthwith.  I pushed my cart about one foot and slammed directly into your cart, which you actually had packed perpendicular to both shelves, so it effectively barricaded the aisle.  I can only think that you had to quickly run down a previous aisle and then back up this one to head me off.  My maple addled brain could not fathom the reasoning for this, and you offered no solace to my plaintive whimper of "waffles?"  You only looked angry that I again foiled your plot of being completely in the way as a backpedaled and nearly took out a teenager to get out of the aisle. 

Safely in the freezer aisle, comforted with cool air and the promise of breakfast pastry, I loaded my cart.  Were this a movie, as I pushed my cart down the aisle, the checkout counter in sight, ominous music would begin to play.  As your cart slowly crept into view from behind the end cap, the music would swell, and when your beady little old lady eyes locked on mine as you revealed yourself in all your foul glory and turned into my aisle, the violins would screech like Kathy Griffin being beaten with feral cats.  Having screamed "Sweet lord, not again!" I would quickly retreat and knock the aisle over, trying to stop you once and for all.  This is not a movie, so the only thing I actually did was say "Nope" once you pulled in front of me, and turn around while you peered quizzically at me, like I am the one that has a problem. 

You have the problem, because the only new thing you added to the cart was a pie tin.  I refused to stick around and find out what satanical or kinky things you had planned with your squash, banana, and pie tin, so I ran down the next aisle and got into self checkout, even though I still needed to get some things.  They could wait. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Dear Pumpkin Flavoring Manufacturers

I love Fall.  I love the cool nights, I love Halloween, I love playoff baseball and the start of football season.   I love sitting on my deck wearing a light jacket and enjoying a cigar without sweating to death.   I love the fall crops I grow in my garden: fresh lettuce, spinach, and collard greens, garlic and onions.  I even added to the garden this year and grew something to pay off my love of Halloween: pumpkins.  Why grow pumpkins you ask?  Not to shove into every edible object I can imagine, I can tell you that.  I hate pumpkin foods.

When did our culture decide that there must be pumpkin flavoring in every food and beverage produced between September and December?   I blame pumpkin pie.  It became perfectly acceptable for people to each this mushy, mealy poor excuse for a sweet potato pie.  Then someone decided to try making pumpkin cupcakes, since it is fairly similar.  People kept making little concessions, adding little bits of pureed pumpkin into ravioli or butter.  Slowly everyone let their guard down around this foul tasting squash.  Everyone became complacent, and that's how, most likely after some mescaline fueled sinfest at an Albuquereque bordello/pancake house, we started putting pumpkin into beers, lattes, and other liquids it doesn't belong in. 

Suddenly, you can't buy a damned thing that doesn't taste like pumpkin, or rot melon as I like to call it.  You can't escape it, and everyone thinks it is just great.  They sit around smearing pumpkin paste in their hair while drinking Punk'in Ale and talking about how good this gourd loving life is.  I have advocated for years to have this happen with maple flavor, but the damned Pumpkin constituency has drowned out any hope I have have of sweet domination.

Please allow me to eat a regular cupcake or bagel in October.  Allow me to have some modicum of enjoyment.  Just because I don't like eating pumpkin doesn't make me odd, and it doesn't mean I shouldn't be able to eat anything.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Dear Department Store Cashier

This week has been particularly long.  Between being extremely busy at work and a lack of a good night's sleep the night before, I was not completely in my best shape. That much I will give you.   I may or may not have been humming "Space Age Love Song" by Flock of Seagulls, complete with phaser sounds, and I may have been staring too hard at the collection of complicated bubblegum flavors that lined your counter.  If in fact I was doing these things, that may be why I didn't hear you talking about me to the attractive lady in front of me in line.  Could I have lived in the bliss I enjoyed before tuning into that conversation, we all may have gone on to live happy, fruitful lives.

As I pondered how strawberry and mint gum seems more like a threat than a tasty treat, I heard you say "He ain't even listening."  Apparently, while you were ringing up the lady in front of me, you both were taking guesses about how tall I am.  Being preoccupied with plastic based sugary chews and 1980's new wave, I missed all of this, and also missed when you flat out asked me the answer.  Congratulations to you for guessing 6'9" on the dot.  With 7', the other lady was over, and thus lost by Price is Right rules. 

As you finished ringing up the lady, you went on with the conjecture and small talk I've gotten from better clerks that you:

1) Yes it is hard to buy clothes/shoes. 
2) No, I didn't play football or basketball.  I played baseball.
3) No, my parents aren't that tall. 

This was all fairly standard, all things I have answered countless times before.  You told me next that your oldest son is 6'5", and that is how you were about to guess my height. Again, not too out of the ordinary.  I will remember this fondly as the last cordial moment of our interaction.  I almost missed it when you said your son was much younger than me though, because he was only 27.   You almost got me to just agree and move on with it.  I wish I had.  Instead, I looked at you like you were a pack of lemongrass and curry Bubblicious, and I mutter, "I'm sorry, what?" You looked right at me, smiled, and said, "He's only 27.  You're what, late 30's, early 40's?"

I don't believe myself to be a vain man, but there was a line crossed.  I understand it looks like I was hit several times in the face with a testosterone shovel.  I know I had a day's worth of head stubble, so my hairline was visible.  I can actually see the black bags under my own eyes.  Even with all of that, do you REALLY think I look over ten years older than I am?  I am 2 years older than your son.  Dos. Zwei, deux, ni.  If I were to judge you by your missing tooth, split ends, and terrible grammar, I could come to some possibly unfair conclusions about you as well.  I don't play those games though.  I am above that.

I am not above muttering in anger and disbelief while I pay and then blurting out "You ruined any chance of that" when you tell me to have a nice day.  I am not above skulking out of the store.  I am also not above giving myself a pep talk in the car while listening to more new wave to unsuccessfully cheer me up while the lady in the car next to me slowly rolls up her window hoping I have T Rex vision and can't see her if she moves too slow. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Dear Quirky Commercials Geared Towards Men


Old Spice, you did a valiant job.  You were doing  well with your Bruce Campbell commercials. Sure, they made very little sense, but that was the point.  You found someone that men ages 25-40 idolized and used him to shill your product.  You could have appealed to our sense of nostalgia by reminding us that you were the scent of our fathers and grandfathers, but you decided to appeal to our generation's unique sense of the absurd.  It was a good plan, and I bet it even worked. 

Quickly though, you switched tactics.  You appealed to the women in our lives, because I guess you decided that women are the ones that are doing the shopping, somewhere between their crying fits and reruns of General Hospital.  So you replaced the venerable Mr. Campbell with Old Spice Guy.
Ok, so still absurd.  Actually, maybe more so.  But it really did work.  The world went nuts for this, to the point where you had days where this guy took live requests to say things standing in a shower.  You are marketing geniuses!

Know who else is a marketing genius?  The guys from Dairy Queen!  Why?  Because they completely ripped you the hell off!

I mean, really?!?  It's like you just threw both of those previous commercials in a blender with some Reeses Pieces and sweet chewy gummy bears.  It is the same exact thing! I can almost see the desperate meeting where you middle aged hacks gave in and just started changing the competitor's commercial because you simply had no idea how you could ever connect with your target audience.  No amount of rapping dogs or hip grandmoms has worked, so please god, let this get through to them. 

At least no one else can think that they can pull off this type of thing and it won't get noticed.

Son of a bitch.  I feel like you think I am too stupid to even care at this point.  The joke's on you.  I am more apathetic than anything, but I am not too lazy to hunt and peck out this angry letter.

Everyone is doing the same thing.  I would say that Old Spice needs to sue, except that I know that Old Spice is a dirty thief too.

These commercials were way better than your stupid commercials.  And they came out first. 

Captain Morgan's Gold- 2002
Vault- 2006
Bruce Campbell Old Spice Ad- 2007
Old Spice Guy- 2008
Dairy Queen- 2011
Dollar Shave Club- 2012

Captain Morgan's Gold was an awful amalgamation of battery acid and demon's blood, but that commercial single handedly helped me graduate college.  The Vault commercial should have gotten an Oscar for greatest narration done by someone other than Morgan Freeman or the guy who played Booger in Revenge of the Nerds.

Both of these set the precedent for this rash of new commercials, with the inspirational music, forceful narration, background chanting, and the sheer joy of making it ok to be weird, manly, and weirdly manly.  Yet, somehow, these products didn't last, and few remember their glory, so you new ad execs are robbing their graves.

If I didn't find the boldness of your treachery somewhat inspiring, I would sick the replica of the Vault robot I made to kill the mockingbird on my roof after you.  I won't be that easy on you.  I happen to know that when Bruce Campbell realizes what you've made him a party to, you'll wish a robot would kill you with mortars.