Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Friday, July 18, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
I've got a tough decision to make, but it's complicated. I can't go into details. It's kind of a long story. The basic question is: should I go through with it?
On the Fence in Fairbanks
It's not a tough decision. It's an easy decision. You want it to be a tough decision. You want the bad option to be good. But it's not. You're asking for advice in the hopes that someone, anyone will tell you the bad option is the good option. Nobody thinks that. It's an easy decision.
And it's not complicated. People in simple situations say that they're complicated all the time, when the only complicated aspect is the hundreds of layers of bull required to put a positive spin on something so obviously negative. "I didn't get fired . . . it's complicated." "I can't commit to a long relationship . . . it's complicated." "Your car isn't ready yet . . . it's complicated." "We didn't get the loan . . . it's complicated."
And it isn't a long story. People always try to cover up their obviously bad choices by threatening you with the length of the story. Sure, if you try to make it sound good, it gets real long. But if you keep them true, they are always short stories. Here are the short stories from the previous examples: "I got fired for stealing at work." "I don't want to be exclusive because I don't like you all that much." "The valet stole your car." "We have bad credit and no money."
So if you're wondering if you and the imbezzling, disinterested car thief should buy a new house together with a no-money-down subprime mortgage . . . sure, go for it. Send me a postcard from Alaska. Just spare me the complicated long story.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
I started rinsing with Listerine about a minute ago. I was about to spit it out, when I took a second look at the directions. It said to "rinse for 30 seconds. DO NOT SWALLOW." So, I'm not swallowing. But that's not really an instruction. It's a warning of what not to do. . . . So what do I do? Hurry! I have "not swallowed" for just about as long as I can and my mouth is really burning.
Gargles in South Dakota
Dear Gargles (or should I call you Burning Mouth?),
A lesser advice columnist would just tell you to spit it out. I'm not sure why the good folks at Listerine didn't give you that instruction. You're quite correct, "Do not swallow," hardly classifies as direction. But now that you find yourself in this predicament, you could turn your germ-killing quandary into a financial windfall. Johnson & Johnson is a big company with a lot of money. Their negligence could be your good fortune.
I'm no lawyer, but I think that in civil litigation, a jury of your peers might find that Johnson & Johnson informing you on the matter of expectoration is a reasonable expectation. The dentist tells you to spit. Why can't a bottle of Listerine? I'm sure the bottle tells you that failure to use the product in accordance with the directions is a violation of federal law. But seeing as though they give you no recommended course of action other than not swallowing, you could be in for some compensation. If you show up to court with the Listerine still in your mouth, that would be grand. But if you attempt to expel it through your nostrils, that could cause damage you can prove. Or if you simply fail in the not swallowing department, I'm sure that would mess you up pretty good physically (though not financially). You might even be able to find a psychologist who would conclude that the mere mention of not swallowing makes it impossible for you to think of anything but swallowing, especially given no written alternative.
But the whole process takes a long time (a lot longer than 30 seconds). Considering all your options, my final advice to you would be the following:
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
They. Are not. The same. At all.
You being sent to the bottom two is not in the same solar system, the same eon, or the sameliterary genre as being sent to the back of the bus. If you come even remotely close to insinuating such a preposterous notion, you deserve to be sent home.
Dude, I can't stop perforating. I'm a ticket printer. I print tickets for a living. 50 years I've been printing tickets and perforating the stub. Ticket printers had to perforate it so when the ticket takers take the tickets, the stub tears off nice and clean before it takes up permanent residence in a wallet or a scrapbook or something. You leave the theater to go number one? You still got a nice evenly separated stub to show the one in every thousand ticket takers who actually check stubs on re-entry. Anyway, the point has been rendered moot by scanners. They scan the barcode on the ticket now. There's no such thing as a ticket taker. They're ticket printers now. Now us ticket printers got a reality to face. There's no ticket tearing. The perforating seems superfluous. What should we do?
Ticket Printer on the Perf
Listen to me, buddy. Listen to me good. You keep perforating that ticket. You have a story to tell. You have posterity to think about. Think about the children. Last week I took my son to a baseball game, and he held that perforated ticket in his hand. It never got ripped. The ticket scanner did not take a thing from us except the experience of what it used to mean to enter a ballpark. Without that perf, my son will never ask why those little almost-holes are lining up three-quarters of the way down the ducat. With the perf, he may one day ask why there is a line waiting to be ripped. And I will be ready to tell him that we used to live in a world where ticket takers took your ticket. They ripped it, and they ripped it good. We used to live in a world where ticketing agencies didn't charge you $2.00 to print a ticket on your home computer (what the blazes is up with that, anyway?). We used to live in a world where barcodes were something you put on groceries, not the pass that delivers you through the gates of Wrigley or into the hallowed halls of an R.E.M. concert.
Don't you dare stop perforatin', Perf. Tell your story. Don't ever stop!
Saturday, May 3, 2008
I have seen no proof of an earthly entity with any power or authority over the oil companies, be they sheiks or Texans. But if you do exist, oh oily one, I've got some advice for you.
Now, I'm not going to tell you to put a cap on the gas prices. I won't tell you to reopen the scores of refineries that were shut down when the oil companies consolidated the process and cut their capacity for production to one tenth of its previous potential (thereby tripling the cost of gas). I won't tell you to force them to emancipate the American government from the virtual slavery in which they are shackled. I won't even tell you to clean up the environment. Collusion, corruption, lobbying/loan sharking, pollution, price gouging . . . keep it all up. Who's gonna stop them? Well, I suppose you could, if you really do exist, you Santa Clause of fossil fuels.
But I know that even if you are capable, you aren't willing. I have come to terms with that. What I can't accept, beyond all the slick scams and brute force, is one minuscule detail, and it is that seemingly trivial point about which I must advise you today. Do whatever you have to do. Talk to whoever you need to talk to. But please act now on this tiny piece of advice:
Drop that stupid 9/10 of a cent per gallon.
I can understand charging $3.89 for a gallon of unleaded. But I don't know where your boys get off setting a price of $3.89 and nine tenths per gallon. Nine tenths? NINE TENTHS?!? This is the spit in the eye, the salt in the wound, the straw bill delivered to the broken-backed camel. Giving us a one-tenth-cent discount to keep it from being an even $3.90, that's just cruel.
So please, talk to them. Reason with them. Make them stop the psychological games, okay? We know we're getting ripped off. Just round up. Don't patronize us with the idiocy of fractional cent savings. I'll happily pay the extra penny per tank to make that little superscript 9 disappear from the price. I don't know how it's even legal to charge less than a cent for any unit of any substance. Crack dealers might be destroying their customers, but I'll bet 100 barrels of petroleum that they have the decency to charge at no smaller than 50-cent increments.
So there. Go ahead and take our money. But spare us our dignity.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Secondly, contrary to popular belief (and by popular belief, I mean your silly new commercials) wraps are not less messy than sandwiches. They are not more ideal for people on the go. They're just an excuse to eat a burrito when you don't have a taste for Mexican.
Finally, the wrap is a flimsy sissy slap to the face of the menu choice that has made your establishment great: the sandwich.
So here is my advice to you: no more wraps. Bring back the monthly rotation of mouthwatering specialty sandwiches. The chicken cordon bleu. The monterey ranch chicken club. The chicken parmesan . . . dear me, that was the perfect sandwich. For the better part of a year you gave me a reason to come back again and again by offering a limited-time-only sandwich I simply had to have. Wraps? Wraps? There's not even bread on that. Dave would be ashamed of you.
Oh, and you should have given Michael Scott a chance. You two would have been cute.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
I haven't won an Oscar in a long time. I've tried everything. I'm a really good actor, and I've been in a LOT of really good movies. What does a guy have to do to get a third statuette? I'd appreciate whatever advice you could give me. Thanks,
T. Hanks (yeah, I know, my first initial and last name spell "Thanks." Brilliant observation, Advice Guy. Sheesh.)
Whoa, dude, back off on the parenthetical sarcasm. I'm here to help. The reason you aren't getting a chance to pull any acceptance speeches out of your tuxedo jacket is simple: you've become predictable. You keep making these mega-popular, critically acclaimed movies. If you want to say hello to Oscar one more time, you've got to take the role no one is expecting (or even wanting) you to make:
Turner and Hooch II. Seriously, Tom, that movie is 15 years overdue.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
I want to be President of the United States, but I'm neither a Democrat nor a Republican. How do I get elected?
Partied-out in Pittsburgh
If you really have ideas that will work in the White House, people will believe in you when they hear them. The good news is, you can spread the word to the entire world for practically no cost at all. You'll be in the oval office by 2012 (and maybe sooner) if you follow this simple advice (unless somebody else with better ideas and smarter execution beats you).
To start your silicon roots campaign. type up a concise, compelling email that leads with your best idea to solve the nastiest problem. Conclude with the statement that when you become president, you'll fix this nasty problem and more. Ask the person to forward this email to anyone who cares about America. Send the email to everyone you know.
Then videotape a statement that says exactly the same thing. Load it onto YouTube. Send another email with a link to your YouTube video. Wait four weeks. Repeat the process, replacing your best idea with your second best idea.
Once your YouTube views start elevating into the mega-thousands, do all the other things like setting up a Web site, blog, and asking people for money. At that point, you'll know what to do. If your ideas are good enough, you can start now and get elected in November. Just register with all the states that allow it as a write-in candidate, and you could be the next president.
Here's the secret. Tell everybody between the ages of 18 and 25 that the other candidates think they're idiots whose votes don't matter. Tell people who vote for American Idol that the government is scared to death that they'll vote. Tell beer-drinking wrestling fans that the candidates are praying they're too drunk and too lazy to get off their butts and show up at the polls. Tell everyone who is currently not planning on voting (most people) that this is the vote that will count. Tell them whatever you want.
And welcome to the White House.
Saturday, April 5, 2008
We rock. At least, we rocked. It used to be so easy. We've seen a million faces, and, you know, we rocked 'em all. But that was the first half of our Behind the Music story. Now, the faces we see don't look rocked, just . . . mildly amused. People still buy our albums out of habit, but nobody talks about them. If we were a tv show, we'd be the last episode of Seinfeld. What gives? How do we rock again?
Rockin' 5 years ago in Seattle
Dear No Longer Rockin',
I'll tell you what happened: you came out with a frivolous "Best of" album. Shame on you. As soon as you start making mixed CDs of your own songs and selling them as new products, you have officially, blatantly, and publicly called it quits as an artist. You've told the rockin' world that not only have you arrived, but you have also collected your trophy and made your acceptance speech. You can't possibly expect us to believe you're still serious about creating new music when you're banking on the hopes people will buy your old music with a new cover and all the personally meaningful songs taken out of the mix. You are the definition of a sellout.
Now, I have friends who say the problem is when you start recording movie soundtrack hits for a living, especially if the movie is animated, and unquestionably if it's a Disney movie. But I point to the Greatest Hits that never should have been. Here's my advice to all you still-rockin' bands. And if you used to rock, adhere to these rules from this point on, and you might rock once more:
1. Never put together a Greatest Hits album unless you have recorded at least 7 studio albums (5 if they were all critically acclaimed but made you no money).
2. It's preferable to delay any "Best of" release until people who are just now becoming interested in your music were not born when you started making it.
3. Only one live album per decade. After the first one, it's like your selling video tapes of your dates. It's just not cool.
4. Don't ever sing about how hard it is to be rich and famous unless your audience is made up entirely of rich and famous people.
5. It's okay if you grow up and your music grows along with you.
6. When you're done making genuine music, stop making music.
7. Don't start being obvious just because people didn't get the point when you were artistically vague.
8. If you're done singing about your own problems, sing about someone else's.
9. Start a new band. Nothing rejuvenates a career like forming a band just because you can. There are other musicians in the world. Give your ego a rest and start making some music.
10. Have fun.
And . . . thanks for asking.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
I noticed strange characters appearing in speech bubbles above your head. You know, the ones that appear when you hold down the shift key and push numbers: !@#$%. What gives? Is there anything I can do to improve your experience?
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Friday, March 28, 2008
Thursday, March 27, 2008
I know you didn't ask, but . . . the texting has got to stop. I h8 it. U should 2.
Pushing out those repeated threads of truncated text is turning your hands into acidic balls of lactic waste. By the time researchers do any meaningful studies on the longterm effects of texting, your thumbs will be permanently petrified into a Picasso-esque portrait of pain.
And we non-texters are getting sick of seeing the tops of texting heads as they stare into the digital abyss. Seriously people, Ferris had it right. Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around every once in awhile, you might miss it.
Texting melts the polar ice caps. It depletes your soul. It causes fallen arches. It fixed the 1919 World Series. It used to be a member of the Communist Party. It stole Claire's baby. Every time a text alert rings, a demon gets its tail.
For all these reasons and more, do your thumbs and the rest of the world a favor by following this threefold unwanted advice: 1) Throw your phone away; 2) Talk, don't text; 3) Try to use a complete sentence every once in awhile.