Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Music...where have you gone.

I am the ultimate pawn of the music industry. No, I'm not trying to make some consumer-conformist-whatever statement, it's just that I simply don't care to peruse the MILLIONS of songs by indie and alternative bands in lieu of mainstream ear candy.

I buy the iTunes top ten...every month. I listen to Top 40 music stations. Yeah. Whatever.

Anyway, this extreme lameness allows me to get well acquainted with today's racket. A racket that has turned from mildly entertaining and comical music (think Beatles to KC and the Sunshine Band to Poison to Madonna to Beastie Boys to Backstreet Boys) to an ego trip (sans Lady Gaga).

You will not be able to listen to a song on top 40 radio without learning how awesome the people are who are singing it. It's...lovely.

Example #1: Taio Cruz's Break your Heart and you'll also enjoy a BBC blog post on it.

"If you fall for me, I'm not easy to please. I'm gonna tear you apart"

But the best part is the beginning, it's an ego love-fest: 

"Woman: This night is gonna hurt you.
Taio: You know i'm not gonna break your heart.
Woman: You wanna bet?
Taoi: Bring it on.

Taoi, you make my knees weak, man. 

Example #2: Kevin Rudolf's I Made It featuring half the rap world and Cash. Money. Heroes. 

Observation a. When you make more than $10 million, you should be better at naming your posse. Cash Money Heroes? Fucking awesome!

"I look up to the sky
And now the World is mine
Ive known it all my life
I made it, I made it!

BTW, Rudolf, you are the old man equivalent of Kesha. It's true. 

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Just kidding.  I meant Pay Czar.  This isn't Russia. Is this Russia? This isn't Russia.  I'm currently doing a project on this guy and he is pretty rad.

His resume includes:
  • Chief of Staff for Ted Kennedy in the late 60's
  • Special Master of the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund
  • Court-Appointed Special Settlement Master in several high-profile product liability cases including Agent Orange and asbestos
  • Administrator of the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund
  • Had a street in his hometown named after him
  • Founding partner of this law firm
He actually has a pretty reasonable view on executive compensation.  His main tenets are small cash salaries and lots of long-term stock compensation.  He also strongly believes in "claw-back" provisions, where if someone receives a bonus based on a performance target, and it later turns out that target was not actually met, that person should pay back their bonus.  To a normal person, that sounds like common sense, but I guess it took this baller to make companies actually do it.

Best of all, he likes to have testy exchanges with congresswomen.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Platform Tennis

Thanks to my new gig caddying at a golf club, I've been introduced to the sport of platform tennis.  Each time I walk down the fourth fairway, I look to my left and think "what in the heck is that thing?"  Well apparently it's used to do this:

Is it just me or does this not even look like a real sport?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tiger Lolz

A lot of the jokes made at Tiger's expense have been crass and/or just not that funny, but Slate made a pretty clever one here, imagining how Tiger's situation might relate to Google's new "Every Search Tells a Story" campaign:

More on Tiger later...

Monday, March 8, 2010

I'm a Newsday Twitterholic

...It's probably like yummy in Spanish, except Portuguese. They're definitely the same language.

...or more like early, drunk people.

In other news, pun intended, can newsday.com find me that commercial where they say "smiles per gallon"? I can't find it on youtube...I would really like that. Thanks Newsday.

Sunday, March 7, 2010



Let's talk about Newsday. If you don't live in the NYC area or NY/CT/NJ for that matter, you may not know that Newsday is Long Island's daily newspaper. It's not bad, I guess, it's got all the things a paper needs to have to be a, ya know, paper; op-ed, real news, comics, sports (LI LOVES THE JETS), and what I go onto newsday.com for: the Saturday crossword.

If you do crosswords, it's the hardest one out there, harder than the NYT Saturday crossword. But if you don't do crosswords, who cares.

What I wanted to rabbit on about was something far more important. Yes, veryyyy important. Every time I frequent newsday.com, I'm greeted by one of two things (three if you count actual news):

1. One of those full page "ads" that blocks you from seeing the web site until you close it, except in newsday.com case it's a notice that you can't access the site unless you're an OptimumOnline customer (cable? really?) or already a print subscriber. The first time I encountered this, I told them "No, I don't live in NY. Yes, I want to use the site." and BAM they gave me a user name and access. That lasted about 3 days, at which point I got an email (IN ALL CAPS; WHICH IF YOU'VE NEVER GOTTEN AN EMAIL IN ALL CAPS IS REALLY ANNOYING, AND YOUR FIRST THOUGHT IS THAT IT'S PROBABLY SPAM) that told me they had figured me out! The jig was up! The Newsday gestapo had figured out my ploy...I would have to pay for access because I neither bought their lousy cable, nor did I get the print edition.
Anyway, to make a long story short, I ignored this, and nothing happened. Well, apparently, I didn't know that this was a new thing to newsday.com and that it failed...MISERABLY. Check it out. If AJ and I get more than 35 readers over 3 months, we can declare ourselves better than Newsday...what a great accomplishment!

2. Last, but not least, is the newsday.com title bar. The title bar says "newsday.com" followed by something catchy about the news in twitter/facebook status update fashion. So today, they had this:

I know what you're thinking, you want that for your blog. Imagine if you were the only one who knew why K-Rod wasn't at Mets camp (was it substance abuse? holding out for more on your contract? Whatever it is, I need to know about K-Rod). Drum roll, please:

In other news, Francisco Rodriguez still is not in camp. His workouts consist of playing catch with his brother at his home here in Port St. Lucie. The Mets have their fingers crossed that he will be cleared after another doctor's visit on Monday. For pink eye, three weeks of contagion has got to some kind of record. Maybe I can check in with the CDC later today.

Pink eye. Yes, a major online newspaper had a twitter update for pink eye. They have officially turned into a middle-aged, stay-at-home mom who twitters too much about their precious son, "Johnny can't make it to school today. Pulled out the Similasan for his pink eye!"

I shouldn't gripe. I keep my eye glued to those statuses. I'll post the funny ones (Yes, they get funnier than K-Rod with pink eye!) in the future...

New Titleist Commercial

It's not all that often that TV commercials make me laugh out loud, but I just did at the new Titleist NXT commercial.  You might remember Scott Van Pelt and Di Stewart doing their "Inside the Cup" spots last year, in sort of a talk show format.  Most will remember these commercials for introducing "flopodopolous" into the golf lexicon.

In the newest round of these commercials, the pair take it to the course:

Bobsledding is hazardous to your pants

Got the blues now that the Winter Olympics are over?  No worries!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Throwing the Penalty Flag on "Marriage Ref"

You've probably seen the commercials for the new show on NBC, "Marriage Ref". Debuting last week, it had a celebrity guests Kelly Ripa and Stephen Baldwin. And if you watched it, I'm guessing you either saw one minute of it and changed the channel, or were glued to your set in disbelief as TV personalities painfully blew their career into smithereens in just 30 minutes.

Actually that's pretty harsh. But then again, maybe not; the reviews it received were pretty abysmal:
Z on TV
Entertainment Weekly
NYT blog

Only ABC seemed to give the program a clean bill of health.

If you haven't watched the show, it's mostly self-explanatory from the million commercial promos that have been run continuously during the Olympics: one couple, a fight, cue light-hearted, comedic banter from Jerry and friends, and then the verdict on camera, live. You have one host, who I don't know the name of, three celebrity panelists, one of which is always Jerry Seinfeld, and a woman on a computer...for checking facts. (Fun fact: dust around the house is mostly dead human skin cells...thanks computer lady)

Anyway, whatever could be wrong with a show, is wrong with this show. It has potential (a great and seemingly unique idea that probably only Seinfeld could conjure), and Seinfeld is amusing (along with Tina Fey who was the only bright spot tonight), but the fun ends there....

The host...you are not funny. I don't know his name, but he should probably be fired and moved to the 2 am time slot past Carson Daly.

Computer lady...why are you on the show? What's your purpose? Very easy on the eyes, but I get that from Eva Longoria and Kelly Ripa.

Panelists...seriously, need some chemistry. There's nothing like three celebrities who aren't necessarily funny themselves put on the spot to make comedy out of some marriage fight. Keep Tina Fey. Lose Eva Longoria (JK, keep her on in a Vanna White role). Lose Kelly Ripa. Give me Steve Martin or Billy Crystal or Will Ferrell...a familiar face that I can laugh with, not at. And what's with the overlaughing? Seriously, are they compensating for the lack of funniness or they just think they're funny? Doesn't matter, makes it awkward.

Couples...probably the only bright spot. They've picked some pretty interesting couples, and some pretty funny spats. Can't complain here.

What should be done:

1. Fire host, re-re-hire Conan O'Brien as host. Major WIN for NBC.
2. Get Jerry a good supporting cast.
3. Fire computer lady.
4. Get rid of bad scriptedness. Hire Conan's writers back instead.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ode to FratMusic


I know a lot of people will read this and think "gosh darn frat boys and their music...why the heck would I want to click this?"  Well I say shut up.  And then click that link.

Click around a bit, and you'll find that there are a lot of playlists, and it's almost guaranteed that you will find something you like.  I use the studying playlist all the time, and almost always use this site when I'm working out.

And you never know what you might discover.  My current favorite song was discovered thanks to this site:


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Call the Close

I stumbled across a new contest being held at CNBC's website called "Call the Close." Basically, you take a stab at guessing the closing number on the Dow Jones Industrial Average. (Side note: even though it is the most commonly reported market number, it's far from being a good representation of the stock market as a whole, since it only represents 30 of the very largest companies. But that is a conversation for another day.)

I've been interested in this kind of thing for a while, and even moreso since reading The Wisdom of Crowds. The book describes the observation that, while almost all individuals are pretty lousy predictors of pretty much anything, as a whole, crowds usually do a pretty good job.

What intrigues me about this contest is that it is a little different from what they talk about in the book. The example that the book opens with is how a bunch of people managed to guess the weight of a cow within a couple pounds. While very few people even got within 20 pounds of being correct, the group's average was extremely close. In contrast to this attempt to guess at a fact, the contest here is to guess at an expectation. Since stock market prices reflect people's expectations, this contest is essentially people forming expectations of other people's expectations (a meta-expectation if you will).

So shouldn't the average guess be really close to the closing price? Well, not really. There is a really big difference between the set of people who are playing contests on CNBC and the people who are out there making markets.

In any case, the first day's results are in: the average guess was 10396.88 (a 71.62, or 0.69% increase), and the actual close was 10403.79 (78.53, or 0.76% increase). That's pretty impressive, considering the stock market can realistically swing plus or minus 2% any given day. Two guys actually guessed within one hundreth of a point to win the first day, and fifteen people guessed within a third of a point. Can't wait to see how long it is before someone gets it exactly.

Link to the contest: http://calltheclose.cnbc.com/close_callers.html