A few days ago I was asked the following peculiar question by a Jiffy Lube employee:
"Do you guys make those magnets or something?"
I was equal parts flummoxed and intrigued. (Flummtrigued?)
After confessing that I did not, in fact, have the slightest inkling of an idea as to what he was going on about, things became clear. He pointed out the window at my car, specifically at the homebrew bumper sticker about which I had completely forgotten.
"Oh, that," I said. "That's just an ironic statement about the commercialism of American culture overlayed upon the tendency to 'keep up with the Joneses.'"
He didn't get it.
"See," I tried again. "People want to show that they 'support the troops,' and they want to do it the same way the Joneses are: by putting a magnet on the back of their car. The thing is, the people who are actually being supported are the ones in Hong Kong, Korea, and Singapore who are making them and selling them to us."
"Basically, while trying to show your support for our troops, you're actually supporting the Axis of Evil1. Buying magnets isn't actually helping the troops one bit. Nice, huh?"
He got it then, and seemed really surprised that he hadn't thought of this before.
I personally find it equal-parts beautiful and sad that entire industries have popped up with soley to provide Americans with foreign-made tchotchkies so that we can show eachother just how much we love our country. Judging by the number of these magnets I see, we really love it a lot.
1: I realize that these countries aren't really the Axis of Evil, but it sure has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? I also realize that there are American companies that make these things as well, but I bet you don't know whether the ones on your car are made by them or by the afore-mentioned foreign profiteers. Besides, does it really matter who it is that's cashing in on your natural tendency to want to show people how much you care? Really what matters is that that money might have been better spent in some way that actually can impact someone other than the guy sitting behind you in rush hour.
Dear Mr. Progresso, Marie Calendar, Wolfgang Puck, Bruce Campbell, Emeril (and Andre1) Agasse, and all the other soup manufacturers,
I like chicken soup. A lot.
The most convenient form of chicken soup for me is, more often than not, from one of your vibrantly-labeled cans.
While you've made quite a few advances in canned soup technology in the last few years, (pop-top rings are awesome!) one of the biggest problems still remains to be solved: the chicken in your soup sucks. Dry, chewy, flavorless zombie chunks mingle with the tasty vegetables and flavorful broth, essentially ruining an otherwise delightful soup. More distressingly, this is leaving our nation's bountiful chicken flocks depressed at the thought of giving their lives for this terrible purpose.
See, chicken soup is only good for the consumer's soul if all the chickens are contributing their souls to the soup. This can't happen if they feel the inherent purposeless in living only to contribute zombie chunks to otherwise-tasty soups. Those clinical trials you've been running? The ones that are not returning the "good-for-your-soul" data that you expect them to? You aren't getting quantifiable results because you are eradicating their flavorful life-essences before they get a chance to even become part of the soup.
My suggestion? Skip the zombie chicken, instead putting in more vegetables and a more-flavorful chickeny broth. Vegetables and better broth are bound to be less expensive than whatever magicks the zombification process entails, leaving you with a cheaper, more pleasant soup. And chickens without the soul-draining ennui that keeps your soup from being verifiably "good for the soul."
If you could please let me know when these changes have been made so that I can start buying your soups again, I'd much appreciate it.
1: I'm inferring the involvement of Andre based on the perfectly square chunks of potatos present in most of these soups. What besides a swift, forceful BAM! with a tennis racket could create such chunks?
I decided that I simply couldn't live without my DS Lite, so I decided to trade up the old-school non-Lite DS at Game Crazy for a shiny new Black DS Lite (they didn't have pink.) So I got all my loot totaled up ($90.52 in hardware and games), and said "I'd like that DS Lite," pointing at the one on the counter.
"Oh, that's our last one."
"Yes. I'd like it please."
"Well, we can only sell that as a "bundle" with that $55 pile of 3rd-party crap accessories you'll never ever ever want to use."
"I don't want any of that crap, can't you just sell me the DS?"
"Well, if we did that, what would we do with all that crap? Anyway, it makes the DS $5 cheaper."
I'm betting you can guess that I didn't play that game. Crap like that just makes me want to burn places down. They know darn well that these things are scarce, so they're willing to play on people's frustration, knowing that many of them will just give in and buy overpriced crap they're never going to use just so they can have the pleasure of buying what they do want to use. Geez.
So on went the quest for a pink DS Lite.
Here's a way-zoomed-out map of our travels yesterday trying to find one:
Each one of those legs had a handful of stores clustered relatively close together.
In case you're not familiar with the Portland Metro area, that's a lot of driving around. We hit at least 10 places, each one referring us to yet another leg on our wild DS chase. After hours and hours of driving around fruitlessly, we went to the one place that I knew would have black ones in stock and bought one there. The day before they had like 20, yesterday they had 3. No other stores we went to yesterday had any except that one lone Target. So now I'll have a black DS, and D will get the hand-me-down white one when Nintendo gets it back to me.
I kind of wanted to avoid the black one because it's got that same obnoxious glossy finish that Sony put on the PSP, ensuring that your toy will be in a constant state of overgunkfification. Unlike Sony, Nintendo thought of this and made the inside of the DS -- where all the buttons and screens are -- a matte finish, ensuring that they stay gunk-free. Yay for Nintendo.
This is where I got tired of copying and pasting and searching for merchandise. The CBS site alone has tons and tons of this crap, not to mention all the merch available for the spinoff shows such as CSI: Miami, CSI: New York, CSI: Lancaster (Amish Country) and the upcoming CSI: Acadamy (think a mashup between Saved By the Bell and CSI) OK, so I made up CSI: Lancaster, but I bet that would be alot more watchable than any of the existing CSIs.