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Archive for the ‘Soapbox’ Category

I am about to become a hypocrite, so let me get that out of the way right up front. I’m a hypocrite because many years ago, when I was a PM Magazine story producer for WBRZ TV in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, I produced a “Hot Chile Pepper Eating Contest” feature story sponsored by WBRZ. The contest took place in a steamy Cajun bayou bar on a Friday night. A hot steamy night. The story was so entertaining it was included on PM Magazine’s national reel. I enjoyed writing the script and editing the story, and although the contestants were some of the craziest people I had ever met, I enjoyed being at the event and even thought it somewhat socially redeeming.

How does that make me a hypocrite?

I recently watched several minutes of the 2015 Nathan’s Famous 2015 Hot Dog Eating Contest before switching channels. Unlike my Hot Chile Pepper Eating Contest, I found the hot dog eating contest a disgusting display of gluttony and uncomplimentary commentary indicative of why the American lifestyle is often perceived as it is by many global communities. What I saw was… embarrassing.

The 2015 Nathan’s Famous 2015 Hot Dog Eating Contest winner consumed an incredible sixty-two hot dogs and buns in ten minutes. Consuming a hot dog was a two-step process. To speed things up a bit, the contestants were allowed to “dip” each hot dog bun in water for several seconds to make them mushy and *easier to shove down the contestant’s throats. The bun-mush mixture was then swallowed separately from the hot dogs themselves, which were crammed into the mouth 2 at a time in a kind of plunger motion.

I suspect my hypocritical perspective change from the perceived humor of teary-eyed contestants plopping hot peppers into one’s mouths compared to the repugnant ingurgitating of beloved all-American hot dogs is as much a matter of being 30-something then vs 60-something now.

“I can eat fifty eggs.”

*I wonder how many eggs Paul Newman’s character could have eaten in the movie, Cool Hand Luke had he been allowed to eat them scrambled instead of hard boiled?

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copyright© 2015 by Simply Tim’s Blog Spot

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“Fancy Feast Broths” (screenie from outstanding *commercial. See bottom of post)

I’m not a cat person, but you already know that: cats are too finicky and… just plain persnickety. The Purina Fancy Feast TV advertisement screenie above — although one heck of an ad — has persnickety written all over it. Even so, whatever is in that bowl, I want some!

What the hell am I’m looking at here to the left anyhow — a delicate Shrimp & Shredded Crabmeat Bisque? A yummy Seafood Veggie Gumbo? Holy smoley. This can’t possibly be cat food. Add a bed of Jasmine rice, a sprig of rosemary, a sliver or two of red onion, maybe a dash of oregano…

Man, oh man.

Although I might consider paying decent bucks in a restaurant for something that looks this tasty, I admit I’m having a difficult time envisioning a cat dipping its whiskers into this exquisite presentation and slurping it up with that prissy, backward-lapping sandpaper tongue-thingy all cat family species share. And afterwards, of course, licking its claw-tipped paws until they are perfectly just so.

This Fancy Feast meal to the right looks like some kind of Creme de la Chicken dish. Or maybe Creme du Chunk Tuna, with shards of carrots and complimentary-color green bits of what — mint, parsley, collard greens, catnip? I know, lets float some shaved parmesan or flaked Asiago cheese, a dash of Cayenne pepper and a dollop of sour cream. Or perhaps just some Baby Swiss, lightly seared, awash in sexy candlelight.

Yum doesn’t get any better that this.

Time for some very serious questions for those of you who are cat people:

  1. Does this stuff really come out of the can looking this delicious?
  2. Have you ever been, you know, uh — tempted to taste test it?
  3. Do cats like carrots?

Yep, I’m not a cat person, but I certainly wouldn’t mind being one at a Fancy Feast Broths dinner table. Hats off to the folks at Purina for making me hungry.

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* Fancy Feast television commercial

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It’s no secret that pet food has been considered as an alternate and much cheaper food source for humans during impoverished times. Apparently, “human grade” pet food is now a reality; the human consumption of non-human grade pet food, often called “free grade”, remains an ongoing debate. Many pet food manufacturers now offer organic product lines for persnickety pet owners.

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FRIDAY FOOD THING

Last week I did something I’ve wanted to do for years — I threw out all Mom’s gift glass sauce pans and skillets. Anything with a handle was thrown in the recycling bin. Those pots and pans had wasted space in my cabinets for far too long. I mean, really — even water burns in those suckers. To be fair, I spent about half an hour thinking about some of the pros of stovetop Pyrex. Lots of cons bounced around in my head, but the only positive thought I could come up with is: you are able to watch your food burning on the bottom.

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Kiddie Credit*

While sitting in Mom’s easy chair during a recent vacation, I was enjoying my remote control cruise through the Tampa area offerings when a glitzy commercial for a new Barbie doll jumped out and slapped me rudely upside the head. For the first time in a long while I was rendered — speechless.

Although it is difficult to believe, Credit Card Barbie comes complete with a bar-code-reader, check out stand and a toy credit card processing center wherein curious new Barbie doll owners are actually trained how to use a credit card. I suppose the youngsters wait in make-believe lines while play-friends electronically scan in their (optional) make-believe purchases and swiping their make-believe platinum Barbie cards. If I’m not mistaken, a receipt is printed out at the end of the shopping extravaganza, after which the children waltz off to dream about their new acquisitions, clueless  about the importance of cash flow and the accrual of debt — just like Mommy and Daddy.

The Shopping Boutique Playset comes with three outfits, including shoes and sunglasses, and the rotating pole can hold up to 20 clothing and accessory pieces. Also included is a display stand that doubles as the cashier counter where you “buy” your clothes. Swipe the Fashion Fever credit card to “pay” and find out the remaining balance on your account. But don’t fret. Once the balance hits zero, it will reset so you can continue to shop. Barbie dolls not included.”

Training young children to equate the acquisition of material goods by using toy credit cards does not strike me as being a particularly good thing. Learning how to handle real money in real life is difficult enough for adults without the toy industry injecting their single-minded marketing ethics — like some kind of evil, brain-washing drug — directly into the minds of children. I’d like to think that the introduction of sound financial principles taught to our children should be a function of good parenting rather than corporate marketing.

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* (Credit Card Barbie, as promised from the RDJ archives, circa 2007)

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I bet I’m not the only one noticing how television programming has recently begun messing with us big time. Probably in retaliation for our recording more and more programs and later fast-forwarding through the commercials. Yeah. I’m talking about those start and end times that mysteriously add or subtract a minute or three to a television show’s runtime for no other reason than disrupting our viewing habits by snipping off a recorded program’s last couple of scenes.

Now, THAT’S some serious messing with us.

In my mind, there is absolutely nothing worse than losing the last 45 seconds of a “Longmire” or “Elementary” or “Castle” or “Da Vinci’s Demons” or a “Vikings” episode just before the whodunnit is revealed or some inconceivable secret is about to be disclosed or unspeakable act committed or a weapon is pointed directly at a major character’s heart.

Which is why I have begun a grass roots and strategic first-level counterattack campaign using my provider’s recording/Timer options to extend an end time by tagging on an extra 2 or 3 minutes of recording time to the scheduled end of a favorite program. Unfortunately, my counter attack has been short lived and I gotta tell you that television networks have already begun counter-counterattacking my devious counterattack, and satellite providers absolutely love it: by increasing the number of late-ending programming, standard satellite receivers can’t always record more than one popular program at the same time if program start and end times overlap by those silly 2 or 3 minutes.

Most cable/satellite companies don’t give a hoot how television programming messes with us or how frustrated we get trying to record our programming choices in their entirety. That’s because most of these satellite providers have come up with an expensive solution:

“ATTENTION VIEWERS: if your older receivers allow you to only record 2 programs at the same time, simply purchase our new “super-dooper” receiver package. Sure, it costs WAY more than your current obsolete receiver box, but it allows you to arbitrarily record up to SEVEN shows simultaneously — and, with over TWO THOUSAND hours of recording time!”

There are additional tricks lurking in the television programming arsenal of weaponry which affect us viewers, too. Here are only a few of them:

  • Miniaturized unreadable credits from the previous show running half-screen at a ka-zillion miles per hour and parallel to the new and current program’s miniaturized opening half-screen scene, making both the credits and the new opening scenes impossibly too small to see. What the hell is the point in having credits if we can’t read them — isn’t that the point of having credits?
  • Extremely large, cutesy and obnoxious animated teases that interrupt the program we are watching and inform us what shows will be airing later on in the evening. What — we are smart enough to reprogram DishNetwork or Direct TV’s start and end times but we’re too stupid to know which programs we want to watch?
  • The quickie flashback synopses at the beginning of new episodes that begin, “previously on…” yet rarely, EVER show us the closing scenes from the previous week’s show. You know the ones I mean — the same scenes that were clipped the first time because television programming was “messing with us”.
  • Inane informational pop-ups, TV station logos, and screen-crawlers that completely cover up CC Closed Captioning but only during critical scenes.

GOOD NEWS:

Thankfully, I have come up with a 100% sure-fire and fail-proof solution to resolve all start and end time recording issues. All you have to do is take out a small wire snip, carefully open your receiver’s hidden contro

“ATTENTION READERS: this blog post has been clipped due to arbitrary word-count programming changes.”

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Baby Bear returns from bathroom after using Charmin. Momma Bear has just finished cleaning Baby Bear’s bedroom.

I have never trusted bears who use toilet paper. Bears are no different than all wild animals: they prefer doing their business out of sight. In private. As in a “deep inside the proverbial woods” kind of way.

While Little Bear bends over to examine a toy, Momma Bear examines Little Bear's butt.

While Baby Bear bends over to remove lint from his bedspread, Momma Bear approvingly examines Baby Bear’s butt.

The makers of Charmin toilet paper think using bears to sell toilet paper is both clever and cute. Unfortunately, it seems TV viewing audiences agree. Success has finally relocated The Bear Family from the wilderness, where they belong, to upscale suburbia where bear cubs have their own private bathrooms.

Too much information. I happen to know all self-respecting bears would NEVER think about crapping on TV. For that matter, neither would Mr. Whipple.

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How can we help (ourselves)?

 

I recently received an email from Lowe’s informing me they have changed their “Privacy Policy”. These are the same folks who — every time I purchase something and try to check out — matter-of-factually ask me for my telephone number. I always refuse. Why do they need my telephone number? I mean, chances are good (since I normally use a debit card for my purchases) they already have access to WAY more than just my telephone number.

The Lowe’s Privacy Policy Change email contained a link to their new Policy Page, no more or less frightening than other such policy pages, I’m sure. I spent some time reading through all the gobbledegook, finally taking a breather at their “Your Choices” section, wherein they pacified me a bit into believing I could remove myself from the insanity of online shopping data sharing, because everyone is in cahoots nowadays; Google, Amazon, Facebook — all of the biggies — wantonly swapping, sharing and receiving personal information and shopping habits as if it belonged to them, not you. How many times have I purchased something at Amazon and a day later the item I just bought is plastered on every browser page I visit? Depending on the item, that can be rather embarrassing if you have a visitor who asks to use your computer.

“Hey, Tim, how do you like that hemorrhoids cushion?”

I suspect the Lowe’s Privacy Policies are no different than most, but I gotta tell you, when I got to the part that said: “To be removed from all of Lowe’s official email, telephone and postal mail marketing, choose one of the following options: email customercare@lowes.com and type “REMOVE FROM ALL MARKETING” in the subject line…” I felt a shimmy of hope wiggle through me like a bolt from that first shot of tequila.

I opened my email program and began to reply. That’s when I read a couple more sentences and got down to the: “For any of these options, please include your name, address, phone number and email address in the request, and let us know how you provided us with the information.” part.

You have GOT to be kidding me. Let me get this right. They want MORE private information about me so they can remove my “old” private information  from their “Lowe’s official email, telephone and postal mail marketing”? How crazy is THAT!  Damn, they also want me to tell them HOW I provided them with “the information” they already have about me. Give me a break.

Little did we know — years back when we rushed like children toward the Google Candy Store and all the other personal information black- holes-from-Hell-blood-sucking-vampire-ish-mega-sites — the can of worms we were uncapping. Did I just say children and can of worms? Silly me. My bad. I really meant lemmings and Pandora’s Box.

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