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Feb

16

How Hard are These Times, Really?

By admin

As I was driving home the other night listening to news about the bad economy on the radio, I couldn’t help but notice all the late model cars around me – no doubt full of people going home to watch their giant flat-screen televisions in HD. If this is as bad as it gets I think we are OK folks. You hear the news actually throwing around the D-word (depression), and it just strikes me as irresponsible sensationalism. All the news stations are fighting for the best ratings, so it logically follows that they probably think you will watch the news broadcast which promises to give you the worse news about the economy. After all, everything is fine or economy is in a small recession just sounds boring. The more they can scare you with their teaser bits the more likely you are to watch.

Using the word depression is pretty ridiculous. You know how much edible food gets thrown out every single day in the city where you live? Probably enough to feed some starving nations. There has only been one depression in American history and believe me people were not throwing out food. People were actually starving. Ever see pictures of the actual depression from the 1930’s? There were bread lines full of ordinary middle-class citizens waiting on government-issued rations of bread to feed their families! Those few people alive today who remember the depression from their childhood probably laugh at the comparison (assuming their hearing aides are working properly).

I brought this up during happy hour at the pizza parlor on Friday, and when I mentioned that there are no bread lines three people at the bar all chimed in together in replying not yet! …Which just goes to show you the mentality that the media is managing to instill in just about everyone. These people at the pizza joint are somewhat-intelligent folks who I see there all the time, and even they are showing signs of succumbing to this media brainwashing. My friends, as long as all the fast food restaurants on every corner still have that .99 menu there is no danger of bread lines or a 1930’s style depression.

Mama Riah and I went out to dinner Saturday at King’s Fish House. If you aren’t familiar with this franchise, it is a chain of good seafood restaurants with a casual atmosphere – that deliver a check which looks like you just ate in a snazzy fine dining establishment. We got there about 6:00 because we like to eat early. The place was busy and we managed to score two seats at the bar.

Over the course of the next hour and a half as we enjoyed our meal, the place became absolutely jam-packed standing room only. If the economy was terrible, don’t you think casual dining joints that are priced like high-end restaurants would be the first to suffer? By the way, we each had two drinks and split a seafood salad and each had a bowl of clam chowder for a total bill of $60. It is extremely easy for two people to break a three digit check here if they are in a feasting mood.

After dinner as we were leaving, I noticed the mall parking lot was still pretty full. I could see across the street into the ATT&T wireless store which was still open and had at least half a dozen customers in there buying new I-phones and Blackberries. You know how long the cost of one of those things could feed you for, if push came to shove?

What we have right now doesn’t even qualify as a noticeable recession. If we actually get one of those they’ll probably be calling it a national disaster. I’m almost rooting for it just so I can make my point better!

Papa Riah

Feb

11

Isn’t A-Rod a Saint for Telling the Truth?

By admin

The sports pages of my local paper are putting a halo over the head of Alex Rodriquez for his brave confession to using steroids. Sympathy for this beloved sports figure is high. He has apparently earned much respect by setting such a good example for the kids in (finally) telling the truth. We should all be proud of him. Maybe even give him another trophy or something. But wait a minute. Over the past couple of years he vehemently denied ever using steroids. His recent confession emerged only after discovering that undeniable evidence was about to go public and he was flat-out caught with his hand in the cookie jar. So being the model citizen, he then did the right thing and admitted his drug use.

Isn’t it great that our society sends us such a clear message that we only need to be truthful when we are caught red-handed? If there is no video tape, then there is always some doubt so just lie like there’s no tomorrow. This is becoming the standard in America. People whose first inclination is to fess up when confronted with an embarrassing situation are becoming a small minority of the population.

This is a predictable result when we see celebrities setting the example for the rest of us. After all, we are all just a bunch of drones that act like whatever the people on TV are doing. Right? If our sports heroes can look us in the eye through the television camera and tell a bald-faced lie that is our justification for doing the same thing. Cheat if you can get away with it, and if anybody ever asks about it deny everything.

If you do get caught, try to follow Bill Belichick’s impressive example. If caught in the act of cheating do not acknowledge that what you were doing was actually cheating. Use a fancy term to describe what you were doing, or show a look of surprise and say you didn’t know that cheating was illegal. As a last resort you could hold out like Roger Clemons and Barry Bonds until your dying breath, denying everything and swearing to God you are innocent even when faced with overwhelming evidence. That will always create some tinge of doubt in the general public’s mind because, well, because the general public is pretty stupid. Always use that to your advantage.

The only problem with this approach is, of course, when a video tape that you didn’t know about shows up. That’s when it’s time to do the A-Rod thing and become a hero in the public eyes. We will carry him on our shoulders to the baseball hall of fame while sending Martha Stewart to prison because she didn’t see the truck coming quickly enough. Of course in the case of Bonds and Clemons all will be forgiven no matter how long they wait to confess. After all, they are sports heroes not some cooking show host.

Papa Riah

Feb

2

Superbowl Ads Getting Worse

By admin

The 2009 Superbowl commercials were just as bad, if not worse, than the 2008 Superbowl ads. I mean they were outright terrible! I was embarrassed for these companies that are putting them out. Now I realize that it has become a tradition in America to try and create humorous ads for the big game. The problem with humorous ads is that they are usually not good commercials. There are exceptions to this of course, but those exceptions are not to be found in any of the past few years’ Superbowl commercials. These are the most expensive commercials on television to both produce and air. For them to flop so horribly is inexcusable – and executive heads should rightfully be rolling.

Not only were not any of the ads good commercials, but they weren’t funny either. I never even broke a smile. Perhaps there is no longer any true creative talent working at any of the ad agencies responsible for the insult to the American intelligence that was perpetrated upon us today. What an incredible waste of money and resources during these times when both should be so precious. I wonder how many jobs Pepsi, Coke, Doritos, Anheuser Busch, and Go Daddy could have collectively created with the money they blew on failed attempts at humor. Certainly none of their ads will be responsible for creating any additional revenue, so they may as well have burned the money.

Here are a few of the less memorable highlites:

Go Daddy further degraded it’s image by producing a commercial featuring female race car driver Danika Patrick taking a shower. What naked female race car drivers in the shower have to do with registering internet domain names is beyond me. I have never seen anything cheaper, less creative, and less funny.

• Some stupid health drink company or another came back again with more dancing cartoon lizards, mixed in with some dancing hip hop stars. I didn’t know or remember the company when they did this last year, and I still don’t know who they are nor will I recognize their products if I ever see them on store shelves. And it wasn’t entertaining in the least.

• A business meeting in which the company served Bud Light threw an employee out a glass window when he suggested cutting back on expenses by not providing beer at all the business meetings. This was not funny and worse yet suggests that the product is expensive.

Audi provided the action with a seemingly never-ending car chase scene which suggested that criminals through the past few generations could always rely on Audis when it comes to needing a getaway car. (If that wasn’t the message sorry, but that’s what I got out of it.)

Doritos ran two commercials (this must be a recession-proof business) both which featured senseless violence that was supposed to be funny. I will give them credit for doing a good job of product branding however, as the Doritos bag was prominently displayed by the guy smashed on the front of the bus windshield. But somewhere in my subconscious mind I now think that consuming this product is dangerous.

Castrol motor oil came out of the woodwork with an incredibly expensive commercial that pushed the limits of being politically correct. I actually would have liked this one if they didn’t end it by imprinting in my mind the image of a guy making out with a monkey. With that image forever imprinted in my brain I will now go out of my way to make sure I never use that particular brand.

• Then there were the movie trailers. Hollywood must not be in a recession when they can tack on millions to a movie budget for trailers on films that will not be out for months. I was horrified to see an upcoming sequel for The Fast and the Furious. As if there aren’t enough insane twenty-something year olds in lowered Hondas risking my life every time I am on the freeway already!

There was a very consistent theme in all the failed attempts at humor in the ads this year. I cannot quite pinpoint it, but it was almost like the same three guys wrote most of the commercials. You know what I mean? It was all cheap sight gag stuff and no comedy of any substance. Go to any third-rate comedy club and pick a few struggling standup comics and they could have produced ads ten times more entertaining, guaranteed. Of course the product branding probably will still suffer, but at least we would get a decent laugh.

Papa Riah