Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Phrased Out, Part 2: "Think Outside the Box"

Words and Phrases That Need to Be Banned, Part 2: "Think Outside the Box"
-OR- Creativity in Corporate America: Where We Are

There was a time when "Think outside the box" PROBABLY meant something. It meant something like "Try creative or unorthodox solutions." Regrettably, that was a long, LONG time ago in a dreamy, fog-enshrouded past where you could still buy lemonade in a dirty glass for a penny and spend all day at the local swimming hole without fear of being abducted by evil clowns hiding in the sewers. Like all things associated with true creativity, the UNCREATIVE masses (including roughly 95 percent of the corporate world) pounced upon this phrase like slavering fanboys descending on the latest variant edition of "Spider-Man Gets a Hangnail, Part 19."

After blithely appropriating it, these mindless twits then proceeded to twist the phrase for their own nefarious ends and rendered it inert. "Think outside the box" now roughly translates to: "Please think really, REALLY hard about how we can get more work done in less time, while paying you even less money, because I'm an overpaid corporate doofus who can't be bothered coming up with new ways to screw you over anymore, and I need you to do it for me." This is accompanied by the unspoken caveat that if you actually DO come up with a way to accomplish this self-defeating goal, said doofus will take full credit for it and be praised by HIS superiors for successfully "thinking outside the box."

Similarly, if you actually DO have a genuine creative breakthrough (as opposed to just coming up with a method for elevating your superiors while maximizing profit and marginalizing yourself), it is a given that you will be patronized or humored, while your idea is smacked down and ultimately passed over. Naturally, 5 years later, some savvy upstart company will make a million dollars when they accidentally stumble upon and implement the very same idea.

At that moment, your company will suddenly leap into action and come crashing through the metaphorical skylight like Adam West and Burt Ward trying to get the drop on King Tut. They will become frantic dynamos of action, flailing limbs in every direction as they desperately try to duplicate the lightning-in-a-bottle success of their competitor. If they DO manage to successfully mimic the winning formula, you will receive none of the credit, while the people you gave your idea to will be hoisted in the air, hailed as conquering heroes, and rewarded with the kinds of sexual favors you didn't think people REALLY did, but only made up funny names for.

The sad truth is, I've never met a creative person who says, "Think outside the box." It's time to ban this phrase. It's been perverted, and the people who use it don't really mean it anyway.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Phrased Out, Part One: "My Bad"

Words and Phrases That Need to Be Banned, Part One
AKA: No, I Don't Care If "That's Just What People Say Now"

"Oops. My bad."

Can anyone even tell me the origin of this phrase? Is this supposed to be baby-talk morphed into some kind of cutesy slang? Whatever it is, it's way played out. "Bad" is not a noun, and never will be, unless we're talking about the Michael Jackson album. "My bad" has the distinct feel of someone trying to downplay the severity of their screw-up while ostensibly owning up to it at the same time. "Oh, I screwed your best friend, honey? Sorry, MY BAD!" or "Oh, I let the radiation containment field down? And now you're dying a slow, horrible, excruciating, flesh-seared death? Sorry, MY BAD!"

AWWWWWW. How could we possibly be mad at this rascal when he uses such cutesy phrases like "My bad?" I say to hell with that. How about letting the AGGRIEVED party decide the severity of the offense and whether or not to whoop your ass? Stop trying to cushion the blow with wishy-washy, coy, watered-down language like "My bad." Stand up and face the consequences, even when YOU think the offense is a small one. Whatever happened to "Sorry, I made a mistake?" I know it's A LOT asking a nation of stunted adolescents to actually use honest-to-goodness fully formed sentences instead of grammatically incorrect baby talk, but I always was a pie-in-the-sky kind of guy. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.

Another perfectly agreeable option is "I f*cked up." Whatever happened to "I f*cked up?" Sure, it's a swear word, but it's a lot more direct and blunt and to the point than "My bad." Let me put it this way: If you were an innocent victim at the scene of a bank robbery, and you were caught trying to slip out the back door, do you think the bank robber would be more likely to spare your life if you said, "I f*cked up!!!! I f*cked up!!!!" or if you said, "Hey dude, MY BAD!!!!! COWABUNGA!" If you ask me, the latter choice is a road that can only lead to heartbreak and tears. More likely than not, the bank walls would get an impromptu crimson-red "extreme makeover."

And when they take the guy away in handcuffs, he can tell the cops, "Oops. My bad."


Monday, November 19, 2007

The Rolling Stones Super Computer

Hey there rock and roll fans! It's the year 2007, and technology has come so far that computers can now accurately predict (or create) the content on the next Rolling Stones album, which we hope will materialize sometime in 2008. We have correlated all the available data and fed vinyl copies of every Stones album into the NITE OWLZ BLOG SPOT PATENTED ROLLING STONES TITLE GENERATOR, and the results are available below. Remember, the computer has an 87 percent accuracy rate, so these ARE the tunes you will be grooving to come next year, or whenever the Stones get off their saggy old asses and make a new CD! Enjoy!

Track One: "Brawl Until Dawn"

For the leadoff track on the new CD, our Rolling Stones supercomputer randomly combines a series of phrases with subtle and not-so-subtle references to violence, some intertwined with sex. The result is this hot new single, "Brawl Until Dawn," that also helps perpetuate the "street fighting" image of the Stones, even if Mick hasn't been in a real fight since 1971, unless you count all the times Jerry Hall beat his ass before he walked out on her. Note: This will be the album's token "feisty rocker."

Track Two: "Hit That!"

To generate the second single, "Hit That," the computer uses the same alogarithm as "Brawl," but also includes the obligatory attempt at aping recent urban trends and lingo, even ones that are falling out of favor as we speak. The song will contain a funky bass line, and possibly a "hip hop" section, which will come across as awkward and forced as Paula Abdul trying not to slur her words on "American Idol."

Track Three: "Stairwell of Good-byes"

The computer slows down the tempo a bit and spits out a "moody" ballad, based on some words Mick scribbled down on a cocktail napkin with four Brazilian model's phone numbers written on the back.

Track Four: "Roll It When U Rock"

This is the token "bluesy" Keith Richards number, that the computer predicts will somehow be indistinguishable from the LAST ten "Take It So Hard" clones. The title doesn't mean much, but still seems shockingly coherent when compared to Keith's usual booze-addled ramblings.

Track Five: "Vegas Virgins"

Despite the weak alliteration, our computer is predicting a Stones trifecta: money, sex, and a "hot" topical tourist attraction. This will be one of those Stones songs that seems to highlight Mick's social conscience, by focusing on runaways and prostitution in sin city. However, the computer wisely deletes any mention of how the Stones have blithely fostered a climate of misogyny, sexism, and moral decadence in American pop culture for five decades straight. The hypocrisy bar will be raised a little higher when the song blares prominently in a future "what happens in Vegas" ad that features a smiling Mick driving to a chicken ranch.

Track Six: "Devil's in the Details"

The computer foresees a mandatory "satanic" Stones song, trotted out once again in an effort to milk whatever stimulus-response reactionaryism remains in the three people whose sense of propriety was seriously imperiled by the unholy sight of the band wearing wizard costumes way back in 1967. Listen for the slinky rhythm track on this one, which is supposed to represent...er, something.

Track Seven: "Slutty Little Thang"

In the Stones catalog, "sluts" is one of the few heretofore infrequently used derogatory terms for women. Well, the computer definitely feels the need to remedy that situation pronto! Look for this toe-tapper on the new CD, but don't expect too much subsequent controversy, since worse language regularly appears at 7pm on ABC family channel these days.

Track Eight: "She Knox Me Out"

This one's bound to sound bluesy. And violent. And sexy. Whatever. It's gonna be a filler track anyway, probably using yet another watered-down version of the "Brown Sugar" riff, so don't sweat it. Lord knows they won't.

Track Nine: "Dancin' Down on South Street"

While running a systems scan, the computer spews out the requisite "dance" reference that appears on every other Stones album. As a double bonus, the title generator alludes to a "gritty" well-known city (in this case, Philadelphia) that also has a long-standing connection to music or the music industry. This will help reestablish the band's "street cred" for the 459th time (on this album alone). Of course, there will be no lyrics that address getting shot because you're dancing like a damn fool in the middle of a city street at four in the morning.

Track Ten: "My Bad"

A couple of minutes have gone by without The Stones reminding us they're the "bad boys" of rock, even though Mick and Keith are old enough now to actually play "The Sunshine Boys" without stretching credibility. As a result, the computer tosses out this little nugget consisting primarily of Mick mumbling in his "evil but seductive" voice while Keith plunders a couple of dead blues guys' riffs in the background. Sadly, Mick's "seductive" voice sounds really creepy at this stage of the game, sounding like an unholy hybrid of your drunk uncle talking up your new girlfriend and a Star Trek ensign possessed by the Lights of Zatar. The song runs upwards of 7 minutes in an effort to make us think we're getting a lot of value for our money, since the CD's total running time reads 74 minutes when we plop it in the player. However, this glosses over the fact that at least 30 minutes of this disc, including this track, is grade-z padding and will ultimately be programmed right out of existence on future listens by everyone. Everyone, that is, except for that one mustachioed fat guy who shows up for every Stones concert wearing his "emotional rescue" t-shirt, even though it faded from black to slate gray about 15 years ago and fits so tightly he looks like one of those impossibly red holiday gift basket sausages.

Track Eleven: "Blood Brothers"

More social consciousness, this time focusing on issues such as war and homelessness. The Rolling Stones super computer tells us this song will be a hodgepodge of half-formed political observations and leftover 60's Utopianism designed to convince the average listener that Mick thinks about something other than champagne and women's body parts from time to time. Basically, "Blood Brothers" is an attempt to maintain the Stones "everyman" appeal by giving off the impression that Mick and Keith can "relate" to and "care" about what happens to the average joe on the streets, even though Mick spends more in one night tipping strippers than the average worker makes in two years at Walmart. If the average fan had to confront this reality on a regular basis, his head might explode. Among the more affluent Stones fans, the Wall Street demi-demons and corporate whores will spend 2000 dollars for front row seats on opening night, and then sing along with this anthemic song of solidarity and humanism louder than anyone, pumping their drunken fists in the air. Afterwards, they'll call the cops on the Vietnam vet who asks them for some spare change as they run to their rented limo's outside MSG.

Track Twelve: "Into the Fading Twilight"

Our computer anticipates there will be one, last "heartfelt" opus on the new Rolling Stones album. This is somehow intended to deflect attention from the fact that Mick and Keith's emotional growth has been stunted since 1963 or so. Despite that, the computer effectively draws upon the rich reservoir of philosophical insights that can only be gleaned from a lifetime of self-indulgent behavior and reckless substance abuse. The result is a beautiful tapestry of musical self-reflection which weaves together sentimental and novel rhymes like "real/feel," "fears/tears," "long/strong," and "bitch/scratch this itch." Guaranteed to be a real tear-jerker and a future "classic," the Stones will be signing a 5 million dollar endorsement with BIC in an effort to cash in on all the lighters which are sure to go off during this song's live performance. For added measure, the lighters will have the Stones "lips and tongue" logo emblazoned on them. However, in a conscious effort to remain hip and edgy in the year 2008, a machine gun will protrude from the Rolling Stones "lips" and point directly at a nun's groin.

There you have it... 12 tracks coming soon from the Rolling Stones. Now, be honest. Would it REALLY surprise you if the computer got these right???

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

New York Quotes You'll Never Hear (Ever, Ever, Ever).

Ten quotes you can bet were never uttered in (or about) New York City:

10. "My, that's quite the ambrosian fragrance emanating from this corner street grate!"

9. "Hang on, let me take my ipod off and hang up the cell phone... I want to be able to focus on my surroundings in such hectic, chaotic surroundings."

8. "Oh, excuse me. I didn't mean to bump into you."

7. "You know what? We better TRIPLE check the (choose one) steam pipes/buildings/electricity/falling dumpsters. It would be REALLY bad if something went wrong, and we'd be responsible."

6. "Don't worry; we've got plenty of money to fix these problems!"

5. "You saw some rats in the storage room? Oh my god. We better close the restaurant IMMEDIATELY and call the exterminator!"

4. "Wow! What a bargain! We could rent TWO apartments!"

3. "Man, I honestly can't remember the last time I heard someone make a quasi-ironic or cynical, knowing comment!"

2. "I gotta tell ya, this overpriced coffee in cups designed for image-obsessed, unwitting corporate shills really tastes like ass! Let's just buy a cup at McDonald's!"

1. "You know, all these deep-rooted, irreparable problems have really made me reconsider my ill-advised romanticization of a city based on the fact I can get good pizza at three in the morning and I saw a catchy musical here when I was in college."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

American Idol Lessons Part One

In my somewhat shameful past (in direct contrast to my extravagantly and illegally shameful present) I used to watch a little known tv show called American Idol. I was drawn in by morbid curiosity and my disdain for modern pop culture more than anything else. I loved watching the egos of the future mall entertainers and fry clerks of America (FMEAFCOA) grow to wildly unwieldy proportions like vines on Kong Island, threatening to entangle, smother, and ultimately pulverize everything in their path.

I marvelled at (most of) the would-be idols' abilities of self-delusion as they convinced themselves that anyone would care about them 8.4 seconds after they fled the stage, let alone purchase large numbers of CD's filled with their overwrought bleating. I had a perverse desire to watch these no-talent hacks have their dreams dashed to pieces week after week. Slowly, steadily, I watched them march toward their inexorable fate of elimination followed by abysmal album sales . If their careers didn't founder right away, I knew it would happen eventually, if only because the greedy producers had over-saturated the market. The contestants reminded me of movie-goers filing into the latest Adam Sandler or Vince Vaughn vehicle on opening weekend. OH how quickly the looks of glee and delight turn to sheer terror as the metaphorical slaughter begins en masse!!!

However, it cannot be said that I have not learned some valuable lessons from my time spent watching American Idol, and even lurking about the American Idol message boards (before I had to stop for fear of a self-induced aneurysm). As the new season approaches, I thought I would share some of these valuable lessons with you all.

Things I Learned from American Idol and AI message boards, Part One:

1) If you don't like someone (especially an Idol), no matter what reasons you give, no matter how sound your logic, you must be jealous of them.

2) Artists who made a million dollars last year and scored one of the most high-profile record deals in the country need defending on a message board they will never read, and care even less about, by someone who had to save two months’ salary just to go to one show by said artist.

3) If someone posts anything against your favorite Idol, even if it is less profane than the average ABC FAMILY special, be sure to report it immediately (usually for reason number 2 given above). Such a post could cause the media empire of said Idol to crumble, and scorch the eyes of all who behold it.

4) Mean-spirited posts or disguised bad language are not tolerated on AI message boards, despite the fact that mean-spirited judges and disguised bad language run rampant on every audition show since season one of AI.

5) A guy who played bass on tour with Journey way past their heyday, produced a bunch of schlocky dance records, and fell hindquarters-backwards into a hit tv show is better equipped than most to recognize true talent.

6) You can be completely 90 sheets to the wind and people around you won't even notice or comment.

7) If you run into the audience enough times, people will actually believe you're doing something exciting.

8) If an Idol contestant comes out with a bold, fresh style that the public immediately responds to and embraces and votes for every week, the best way to reward them is by releasing a sub-par pop album devoted to the worst trends of the day and sounding nothing like what people were voting for in the first place.

9) One year is not nearly long enough to come up with songs better than "My Destiny" or "Tatoo," even when the best songwriters in the country would kill to have a song on the show, and even though acts like the Beatles used to crank out 10 killer songs in one week.

10) Middle-aged housewives have no lives. Ever.

11) The 2 words "Soul Patrol" can actually control minds and force people to dial phones against their will.

12) If you suggest a revealing photo of an Idol may be in questionable taste, you are against the United States.

13) If you sing a standard that has been around for almost 70 years, you must be copying off the person who sang it most recently.

14) If you are a finalist on AI, don't bother to keep your ego in check while the world falls at your feet for 6 months. Your star will surely continue to shine even once the NEXT season rolls around. That guy who was 8th runner up in season 2 and pumping gas for Simon Cowell's limo when he drives through Arkansas isn't going to be YOU.

15) Dressing in leather, throwing your hair around, and looking "hot" is the equivalent of "ROCKING" if you're female on AI. Sometimes, just dressing in "hot" clothes makes you "ROCK."

More lessons to come.

Monday, November 12, 2007

And Now a Message from Our Sponsors, Big Pharma, Inc.

A friendly health reminder from your friends at Big Pharma, Inc.:

Do you sometimes find yourself closing your eyes for a split second repeatedly throughout the day? Do you often find yourself mindlessly and without conscious knowledge quickly opening and closing your eyes, sometimes up to 10 or 12 times a minute? If you answered yes, then you may have "Repetitive Shutting Eyelid Disorder" or RSED. This excessive, intrusive, life-disabling affliction can make you feel "less than whole," "imperfect," or like a "completely useless bastard," and rightfully so.

RSED can rapidly eat away at your quality of life. You'll watch every last vestige of hope fade from view, seen through the flickering and fluttering filter of your diseased eyelids. Eventually, in its final stages, your eyes will be closing up to 16 times per minute. This final stage - known as "blinking" – can actively interfere with your ability to traipse around with your grandchildren or go kayaking in the mountains, just like all those other folks in the big pharma ads. There is no cure for Repetitive-shutting-eyelid-disorder, but there is hope. Hope that there never is a cure, that is. Our hope, mainly.

Now there's BLINKEX. In clinical trials performed at "Bill's Tests R Us" people who were given Blinkex for 2 months blinked 92% less than people who didn't take Blinkex. Of course, the former group had to sleep in the same room as a group of brutal serial killers who were trying out an experimental new medicine, and the second group of test subjects was already dead. Ask your doctor if Blinkex is right for you, because Blinkex is not right for everyone, especially those who like breathing and have a certain fondness for being alive.

Side effects may include: itchiness, sore throat, watery eyes, liver spots, spots on your liver, runny nose, head bursting into flames, dry cough, sudden desire to rent "Glitter", flaky rash, internal bleeding, bloody stools, watery stools, bloody watery stools, bloody watery stools that burst into flames, dizziness, headaches, hair loss, toxic shock syndrome, paralysis, voting Republican, itchy balls, listening to Nickelback, tiredness, confusion, and/or alien growing in belly and then bursting out six weeks later.

Also, Blinkex causes a hormonal change in the body which will cause most adult human males to release a mating pheromone which, for unknown reasons, attracts large full grown black bears and drives them wild with carnal lust. If there's a male black bear within 50 miles, and you're taking Blinkex, trust us, he'll find you. Further side effects of Blinkex include dry mouth. Oh, and horny bears hate dry mouth. Just a heads up. Side effects are mild in some patients, but not most. BLINKEX….. Because there's so much to see out there!

Warning: Some patients who take Blinkex for an extended period of time develop “Dried-out-eye-syndrome” (DOES) and need to take TEAR-EX, about 586 times a day to keep their eyes properly saturated. Ask your big name pharmaceutical company if Tear-ex is right for you. (What the hell, cut out the doctor... he's just our bitch anyway.)