Category Archives: Humor

Things I’ve Learned From Late Night Infomercials

My sleeping pattern has been steadily returning to normal in the last two weeks, which is great for my overall stamina.  Nonetheless, insomnia still has a habit of occasionally slipping into my bed at night, and wringing her decadent claws around me (worse of all, she never bothers to leave any money on the dresser either, despite having her way with me all night.  What kind of a cheap skank does she take me for?).  In light of still having to bear the occasional case of sleeplessness, insomnia has given me a chance to become reacquainted with a long neglected friend from youth:  Television.

Yes, the internet has spoiled me, with its easy access and availability to high quality resources, is it a surprise how neglectful I have been towards that lonely square box complimenting my entertainment center (which is neither located in the center of anything, or provides much in the area of entertainment these days).  But now, I return to you, sweet, patient television, to give my restless nights some ease of mind.  Unfortunately, my time away from TV has made me unprepared to deal with the fact that a.m. programming is the abyss in which infomercials reign supreme.  Naturally, like any person eager to be bored into a comatose stupor (that ought to show that bitchy insomnia what’s what), I watched and allowed the spawn of consumerism’s unwanted lovechild with cheesy soap-opera’s dialogue to try and work its charm on me.  In this experience, I have picked up on a few seemingly important life lessons from these late night/early morning infomercial ads.

  • College is serious business!  Are you living in the United States, and can’t afford to go to college?  Don’t worry, despite that fact that low-income students qualify for government grants that don’t need to be paid back–and are usually enough to cover the bill to attend most modestly ranked, in-state public universities–what you should really consider as an adolescent with no credit history or real life financial experience, is taking out loans to attend a privately-run, online college.  According to the infomercials, even Brenda Walsh from Beverly Hills 90210 got a Liberal Arts degree this way, and if she can do it with her busy acting schedule, who are you not to?!
  • Baldness is a death sentence!  Of course, I have yet to personally appreciate the life-altering impact of male pattern baldness (though judging by my family album, I have a 50/50 chance of finding out all about it in the coming decade or two).  But if there is one thing that infomercials have taught me about this phenomenon, it’s that once a receding hairline begins, a man might as well start to contemplate how many years of his life he is willing to sell to the Devil just so he can retain enough hair strands to manage a decent comb-over.  The message is clear: if you’re not foaming it, transplanting it, or lasering it, you have metaphorically castrated your manhood to a perpetually phallic state of solitude.  Yet, having now been given this great insight into human sex appeal, I’m left wondering why the bald guy I share a wall with is (by the wall-piercing sound of it) still getting laid more than I am?  Also, is that aforementioned pact with the Devil in any way voidable?
  • Acne is a merciless cancer on society that Hollywood needs to defeat one Proactiv infomercial at a time!  Speaking as someone who went through his adolescent years with a moderate degree of pimples on his face, and who still wakes up to the occasional zit now and again (the battle for clear skin never ends, and takes no prisoners–damn it!), I can easily understand the sentiment behind this A-list celebrity crusade against the pangs of acne-laden skin.  What I don’t understand is why, if this cause is as important as the fancy graphics and voice-over narration is to lead me to believe, are young people with virtually no income of their own being asked to cough up $39.99 for a product whose main active ingredients is the same benzoyl peroxide you can pickup at any drug store for under five bucks?  Also, I can’t help but notice how far good lighting and a fair amount of foundation goes to *ahem* clear-up those celebrity faces.
  • Your soul’s salvation depends on your willingness to send money to some guy, who heads some obscure ministry, in some awkwardly named place in California!   For the longest time, I was under the impression that religious clerics had to undergo some kind of seminary training, or at least an apprenticeship of some sort (if that ends up being turned into a reality show staring Donald Trump on NBC, I swear to every conceivable deity and space creature that I will personally bring forth great wrath and vengeance upon the lands of the earth, and all its inhabitants…look I’m just saying, please cancel the apprentice already, it’s not even ironically funny anymore).  Apparently my suspicions were dead wrong, because all you need to offer pious counseling is a P.O. Box and vaguely threatening, thick eyebrows with which to pierce and guilt the very souls you are trying to save.  Sometimes senders are promised gifts for their charitable donations (though if you’re doing it for the free Gideon Bible, I suggest just swiping one from any motel room), but sometimes viewers are offered more urgent reasoning like, “Fool, it’s the end of the world, so do this one decent thing and send the money, or else…”  What else, you ask?  Who cares, man.  Do you want to take the risk to find out?  I didn’t think so.

The only thing that’s really worth asking now is how the mail-order prayers can be utilized to cure the acne menace of the young, the college finances of the slightly older, and the baldness of the even older?  This is just one of the many ways infomercials are bringing the lessons of life full circle, one sleep deprived mind at a time.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, Insomnia appears to have had enough of me for the evening.

My Grievances With 3 Classic Cartoon Characters

Like most children, I wasted a good deal of my early development waking up at near dawn each and every day just to catch the regular lineup of morning cartoon classics.  But unlike most children, I wasn’t content with just viewing and enjoying the programs–No!  Because even from a young age, and even when it comes to matters we hold dearest to our hearts, I believe there is a limit to how much nonsense a person ought to be willing to accept from their entertainment.  And some of the logical gaffes of classic cartoon series are too great to not be called out and challenged directly.  In that light, consider this a serious list of grievances that is decades in the making; a wound of hangups I have been nursing for as long as I can remember being a conscious agent.  My first venture into social commentary and cultural polemics (and a man never forgets his first), without which I may not have become the blogger that stands…er…writes before you today (and I doubt that’s a world any of us would want to imagine).

So, skipping any further introductions, let’s start with this list of my childhood grievances by order of personal annoyance from least to worst offenders.

3.  The Problem With Scooby-Doo:  Fred.  Just so there is no confusion for those of you not too familiar with the show, this guy is Fred:

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Look at him, with that stupid orange ascot. I hope it chafes his neck.

Fred isn’t the brains, he isn’t charismatic, and he sure as hell isn’t the comic relief.  All he does is state the obvious aloud, and than comes up with the most imbecilic plan to catch the weekly crooks (“Oh, hey Shaggy, why don’t you and Scooby lure the bad guy to step onto this puddle of oil, so he can slip on it?  I’m sure you’ll be fine.  FYI, I’ll be hiding safely in the bushes over there.”).

But even if I’m willing to overlook all of this, there is still one major character flaw that makes Fred an irredeemable jackass in my eyes.  Scooby and Shaggy are always presented as being 100% convinced that the place the group is investigating is actually haunted (Daphne’s stance is more or less ambiguous, but generally falls into this same line of thinking when the “monsters” appear).  In contrast, throughout the show’s run, it is established that Fred and Velma are repeatedly unconvinced that any of the places Mystery Inc. investigates are really haunted, which is why them two always look into alternative explanations right from the start.  So far so good.  Yet, if Fred is convinced that the unarmed ghost running at him is just some guy clothed in a loosely fitting bed sheet, why doesn’t he just tackle the bastard?  Remember, Scooby and Shaggy (and probably Daphne) actually think it’s a ghost, and Velma is too small in stature to be much of a match against a full grown man.  Fred, however, is presented as an athletically fit young man.  He could do some serious damage to the group’s would-be assailants if he actually bothered to stop just mopping around like a waste of carbon and use his physical traits to contribute to the team.  Honestly, I’m glad he was written out off most of the later incarnations of the show, as it gave me the opportunity to imagine how one day he happened to trip over his bell-bottom jeans, fell out of the Mystery Machine, and the rest of Mystery Inc. just never bothered to go back for him because they couldn’t be bothered to care.

2. The Problem With The Smurfs: Their Incomprehensible Gender Issues.  Everybody points out the fact that the Smurfs have a serious male-to-female ration problem in their mushroom village.  Few people bother to point out that this is only a minor issue in the greater dilemma in the Smurf biosphere.

The problem isn’t that there is only one (later two) female Smurfs, it’s that there are no naturally birthed female Smurfs–Period.  Smurfette was artificially created by Gargamel, and than later on in the series Sassette was artificially created by the three young Smurflings.

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Just to jog your memory, this one is Sassette. I realize you were racking your brain trying to remember.

Now, I can accept that within the reality the Smurfs inhabit, they are magical creatures that are (literally) delivered by a stork every some-odd season or so.  However, since every single occasion of a Smurf being born naturally produces only (presumably) male offspring, this heavily implies that Smurfs are organically a one-gendered species.  This itself is not the problem, either.  The problem is, how can a one-gendered, essentially asexual population of creatures still feel sexual attraction towards an artificially created opposite gendered individual (i.e. Smurfette), when she isn’t really a natural product of their biological makeup?  In numerous episodes the male Smurfs are shown swooning madly for Smurfette’s simply on account that she is of the opposite gender, despite the fact that Smurfs obviously aren’t gender binary (i.e. they have no opposite gender).  If anything, all the Smurfs should either feel no sexual attraction towards anyone, or all the (presumably) male Smurfs ought to be getting it on with one another.

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At least Vanity Smurf seems to make a lot more sense now.

1. The Problem With Tom and Jerry:  Tom was the wronged party in the series, and no one seems to care but me!  Let’s look at the facts, shall we?  Tom is the unseen homeowner’s pet, thus he is essentially an official resident of the house he occupies.  Jerry, on the other hand, is a rodent; a pest that’s constantly breaking entry into the residency to steal the tenants’ food and take advantage of their living fixtures.   Jerry is obviously the intruder here, while Tom is just doing what he was probably brought into the house to do in the first place: keep pests away.  Sure, it’s all fun and games for Jerry to ravage and plunder someone else’s fridge and horde away their belongings, but what do you think will happen to poor Tom when his owners get fed up with his inability to do what he was (by all estimation) brought into the house to do?  He’ll probably be put out on the street, or worse, be dragged off to the animal shelter–where he will eventually be put to sleep if no one takes him (and since he is already an older cat, no one will probably take him, because all those snobbish kids care about saving is that cute little kitten in the back).  Are Jerry’s antics still funny to you?  Yeah?  Then consider the fact that if you pay attention to the episodes, about 80% of the time Jerry is the one that’s provoking Tom (who is, as we have already established, simply protecting his and his care keeper’s property from a commonly disease-carrying vermin).  You know what, fuck that mouse.  I hope he choked on that ill-gotten cheese.

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Yeah, enjoy it.  You thievingly amoral home invader, you.

All right, having gotten all of that finally off my chest, the healing process can at last begin.

Maintaining Modesty

I awake yesterday morning with the startling resolution that my life has been a long dogmatic list of uncompromising stubbornness, and it could easily be improved through a healthy does of inoffensive moderation.  Which I immediately set out to follow, but then stopped myself just in time to wait a good 15 minutes; just for modest measure.

As I boarded the bus to work, I decided that since both the 6:24 am & the 6:31 am bus can get me to work on time, a healthy compromise would be to walk to the next bus stop down from where I usually wait, for a refreshing walk and to catch the later of the two.  The 6:31 am bus was running 15 minutes behind schedule, and I was 10 minutes late to work.

At lunch I decided instead of having my usual combination of donuts, fries, and soda, I would substitute it with a moderately healthy diet of apple, mashed potatoes, and green beans (note to self, fruits and vegetables make for powerful laxatives).  After lunch, two coworkers asked me to settle an issue of the utmost importance:  Who would win in a fight between adult Simba from the Lion King and adult Baloo from The Jungle Book?  Although I am convinced that Simba would shred Baloo to pieces (he took down Scar for goodness sake), I instead opted to spare both person’s feelings with a humble, “I don’t know.”  A compromise that satisfied no one.

On the way back home from work (taking the earliest bus I could catch this time), a man told me that he desperately needs money to buy himself new pants for work.  I humbly gave him $40, and advised him to get a new shirt too, so he can also cover up the needle marks on his arms.  Then I slapped his face as compensation (it was the modest thing to do) and got off the bus.

Once home, I informed my spouse about my new found insight and suggested we appreciate it through a moderate dose of coitus.  Since it would be unfair for both of us to expect an equally thorough performance, I suggested that we compromise by deciding on who would be climaxing tonight, and then we’ll rotate on a weekly basis; so as not to exhaust ourselves with too much wasted energy.  We mutually decided that the most modest compromise would be for me to sleep on the couch tonight.