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Archive for the ‘Things’ Category


Good Marketing

It only takes one good marketing campaign to turn a fly-by-night charlatan into an overnight millionaire. Regardless of how crappy the product may be, Good Marketing has helped sell billions of useless items to millions of gullible consumers for hundreds of years.

Case in point: Select Comfort Mattresses

Probably the biggest scam to enter the American bedroom since Enzyte, Select Comfort started bombarding the airwaves with advertisements back in the early nineties. Waterbeds had recently lost their luster, and the novelty bed market was wide open for a new player. Enter: the Sleep Number Adjustable Mattress.

Nevermind the fact that earlier models of the mattress are prone to mold and that they don’t last nearly as long as the company claims, let’s just focus on the fact that they are the least comfortable things you will ever rest your back on. Want to know why? Because it’s a goddamn air mattress.

People used to buy twenty-dollar air mattresses for camping until they realized it was almost more comfortable to sleep on the hardened earth. Even if you add an additional air chamber and slap a pillow-top on the thing, the support still sucks and the basic principles of displacement still apply, meaning you will flop and roll into the middle of the mattress the second your bedmate gets up to use the restroom in the middle of the night.

So then how has Select Comfort managed to sell hundreds of thousands of basic-model air mattresses at hundreds of dollars a pop? Enter: Good Marketing.

When the Bionic Woman goes on TV and tells you that she’s finally getting some restorative sleep after all these years, people apparently listen. Lindsay Wagner’s got a face you can trust and robotic strength. Why wouldn’t she be a sleep expert, too? Then all they had to do was plop the mattress down in the middle of a mall food court and point a TV camera at it. Suddenly the shopping denizens were crawling out of the woodwork, willing to say anything if it would get them on television. Record all that and play it ad-nauseum during the cheapest late-night slots you can afford and kaboom: you’ve made uncomfortable air mattresses respectable again through sheer repetitive hypnosis.

Oh, and you know how they claim to cost less than a conventional matress? No shit. It better. It’s an air mattress. It’s made of air.

Good Marketing is effing awesome.


 

The Simpsons

When the Simpsons first went on the air over 20 years ago, it wasn’t exactly a smash hit, but FOX decided to move it to Thursday nights to compete against NBC. It was a bold move. All the press was wondering how a silly animated show featuring yellow goons with foul mouths would ever compete against a comedy legend like Bill Cosby.

Seems like they fared pretty well. No offense to the Huxtables.

But the Simpsons have had their ups and downs. In fact, they’ve had entire down seasons. And yes, it might seem like they should probably be nearing the end of their miraculous run anytime now. But for anyone who’s ever watched The Simpsons, all the lame episodes and bad seasons can’t ever erase that one little random gag that sticks in your head for decades. Case in point: BBBQ.

It’s irrelevant to the plot and it didn’t exactly build upon the Simpsons mythology in any significant way, and yet those 15 seconds can define an entire twenty-year series for millions of Americans. Almost everyone has a Simpsons moment like BBBQ that they will never forget, because there are literally thousands of them.

The Simpsons are effing awesome.


 

Now that the seminal 70’s musical Grease is being run ad-nauseum on ABC Family Channel and Summer Lovin’ has been remixed for the dance floor of every wedding reception you’ve ever been to, people seem to have forgotten that the movie is fairy subversive when it comes to modern morality and social morays.

“Subversive” be damned; it’s downright hedonistic.

If you remove all the upbeat song and dance numbers and then boil the plot down to its most basic elements, you’re left with something like the following:

SlutIn a 50’s era highschool, a band of society-spurning renegade teenagers and their group of kept women have unprotected sex, stage dangerous automobile races, and engage in underage drinking with utter abandon. As one teenager comes to terms with her own teenage pregnancy, another outcast drops out of school amidst confusion and indifference about her lackluster future. Yet another must deal with the advances of a pedophile television host with a dangerously aggressive sense of entitlement. The boys callously ruin reputations by spreading tawdry rumors about sexual conquests that never happened (Summer Lovin’, indeed), while the girls deride each other with cruel disdain. And in the midst of all of this depravity, all eyes are on Sandra Dee, a wholesome outsider who must shed her comfortable skin by changing her appearance, subverting her morals, suppressing her own personality, and hyper-sexualizing her persona in a desperate attempt to keep the man she thinks she loves.

Kids, get the popcorn!

But if you look at it through slightly more forgiving eyes, Grease depicts real issues of real teenagers that most movies gloss over with saccharine sentimentality and unrealistically altruistic outcomes. Grease is different. The teenagers act like teenagers and learn lessons like teenagers and act like teen-aged idiots, and in the end the outcome does not exactly teach the lessons that your mama wants you to learn. By adding in song and dance numbers, Grease also gets the “wild, frivolous heyday of youth” aspect spot on as well. It’s all just a party to kids. It may seem goofy, but it’s probably one of the more realistic portrayals of stupid teenagers in all of film history.

And don’t feel sorry for Sandra Dee. Lord knows there are a lot of Betty-Sues and Sandra-Dees in the world — goody-two-shoe fuddy-duddies who are unable to let their hairs down. You’re only young once, and Sandy had some catching up to do. Good on her.

The morality of Grease is effing awesome.


 

Micro$oft

By now it seems as if the decades-old Apple vs. Microsoft/Mac vs. PC debate will rage on forever.

During the course of this 30-Years War, Apple has cleverly marketed itself as the browbeaten underdog that tirelessly creates the innovations which Microsoft steals, repackages, and distributes with the sole goal of maximum profit at the expense of quality, stability, and security.

And of course there is some truth to that.

Apple has definitely been a front-runner when it comes to innovation, some of which has been aped by Microsoft and other companies with embarrassing shamelessness, but the quality and stability difference between a Mac and PC has long since abated (if you even argue this one, you clearly haven’t used a PC in at least a decade). And since the technology of your hardware on either platform will be outdated within a few years anyway, do you really need it to be encased in expensive stainless steel?

But this post isn’t trying to influence your next laptop purchase. And it’s not about choosing sides. No, this post is about Microsoft. Greedy, evil, backstabbing, antitrust-busting Micro$oft.

Sexy Time

Seriously though, Microsoft isn’t the evil giant everyone makes it out to be. Especially if you’re comparing it directly to Apple, which is what people tend to do. So for the sake of nearing a truce, let’s do what they do in couples counseling and try a little role reversal. Let’s imagine a world where Apple owns the home computing market:

  • Laptops under $500 would be an absurd concept. The gold-plating alone (for the outlandishly-stylish casing) would cost more than that.
  • Forget your homebrew apps and your freewares and your piratebays. Without the dominant competition to force its hand, Apple’s OS is locked down to the point of quashing even the most clever and generous developer-hobbyists. On the plus side, your Mac will be riddled with viruses now that it’s the dominant platform for hackers. PC users would claim that this is because Apple is inherently less secure.
  • Your iTunes would never be DRM free now that Apple’s running the show. Bittorrent would definitely not get through their application screening process.
  • Billions of dollars would no longer be given to worldwide charities. Apple isn’t exactly known for its philanthropy.
  • 95% of the world’s computers are now under the control of Steve Jobs, who just laughs in the face of everyone who questions his random whims or gets on the wrong side of his vengeful grudges. If you thought Bill Gates was unscrupulous, he’s not nearly as threatening as the possibility of Steve Job’s unchecked megalomania and rampant control issues.
  • No right-click or useful controls. Everything would have just one big button.
  • No Flash. Okay, that one might be a genuine positive.
  • Even more Justin Long?

So yeah, those are all wild suppositions about an alternative universe that never existed, but the reality is that Microsoft’s relatively open position and encouragement toward outside developers has lead to some of the biggest software innovations and technology revolutions of our time. In spite of its anti-trust issues with Internet Explorer, the company’s willingness to license Windows to outside manufacturers has spurred hardware competition, making computers so cheap that over 80% of American households now own a computer and 92% of those homes have access to the internet. On top of that, you can add its unparalleled charitable giving. Yeah, it’s made a couple crappy operating systems and a bad browser or two, and yeah they could learn a lot about marketing and product design, but try to cut ‘em some slack, you silly hipster, you.

Microsoft is effing awesome.


 

Hoodie Humor

Sometime it’s just too much of an effort to have a personality, so you just gotta let your clothes do the heavy lifting. And only hoodies really have the versatility required for the job. Plus, they come in a wide variety of clever options:

Vaguely Political
Not sure what this implies, but surely it’s something profound.

Nostalgic
Something something pudding-pop something.

Mega-Nerdy
Live long and prosper, as long as you always have it zipped to the proper height.

Playful
All the neighborhood kids will think you’re a cool dad. All the neighborhood adults will think you’re mentally handicapped.

Ill-Advised
Nothing good can come of this.

Historical
You can play King every time you undress.

Nauseating
Would’ve saved Buffalo Bill a lot of trouble, though.

Esoteric
The people who understand will think you are the funniest production designer in the office.

Educational
But to get the full benefit you’d need to wear an undershirt with frog guts and half digested flies.

Creepy
Probably not the place you want people to think about putting their penis.

Clever
But won’t both sides always break even? That’s kinda pointless, unless you’re one of those “every one’s a winner!” types.

Over the Top
Maybe a little too Better-Off-Deadish to be taken seriously.

So give yourself a break and let your clothing do the talking.

Hoodie humor is effing awesome.


 

Cross-dressing must really bring out the creativity in people. Case in point: all the best musicals (and all the catchiest songs) feature transvestites. Pretty ones, ugly ones, fat ones, fake ones, skinny ones, scary ones — it doesn’t seem to matter.

1. Victor Victoria
Okay, so she’s a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a women, but that still requires cross-dressing somewhere in the mix. Plus the end of this clip where the guy from Webster explains the situation and James Garner gets all confused about his boner is probably one of the most mindblowingest highlights of 1980’s American cinema:

2. Hairspray
Rather than a transvestite character, this musical traditionally features a transvestite actor playing the mother’s role as an homage to the big-screen transvestite Divine who originally portrayed the character in the non-musical version. John Travolta is more like an insult than an homage, but the music is so damn good and John Waters is so damn awesome that Hairspray cannot be denied no matter how much you think you hate musicals and Zac Efron.

Travoltestry
Unfortunately, embedding is denied, so you’ll have to watch it here.

3. The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Obvious in its awesomeness, Tim Curry’s performance has been enchanting the bi-curious for decades now, but few people realize how awesome these songs actually are, including I Can Make You A Man, Touch-A Touch-A Touch-A Touch Me, Over at the Frankenstein Place, and not least of all:

4. Hedwig and the Angry Inch
The king/queen of all Transvestite Musicals. Not sure if Hedwig is technically a man or a woman at this point, but regardless, he’s by far the most thrilling thing ever to grace the stage, the big screen, and your midnight fantasies. Best of all, the music is ingenious:

Wig in a Box:

Sugardaddy:

The Origin of Love:

Seriously, they should remake The Sound of Music featuring transvestites. Nothing could stop it. Its uncontainable power would melt the galaxy.

Musicals featuring transvestites are effing awesome.


 

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