Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Cheap Shot

These are tough economic times. Belt-tightening is definitely in order. But how do you know if you’ve gone a notch or two too far? Your friends or family won’t tell you, but I will. From one coupon-clipper to another, here are some early warning signs that you may be crossing the line from frugal to cheap
  • You buy generic ketchup or cola. I’ll excuse generic flavored drinks like orange or grape, but cola is definitely out of bounds.
  • You shop at a store that requires a deposit on the shopping cart.
  • You complain about the steak … at the Waffle House.
  • You split a dinner … at the Waffle House.
  • You've asked someone, "Are you going to finish that?"
  • You tell the waiter it's your birthday ... just to get the free cake.
  • You paid a bill entirely with pennies.
  • You ask for the senior discount … and you’re not a senior.
  • You cut your own hair.
  • You count free samples at the grocery store as lunch.
  • You ate lunch at your child's school cafeteria ... and you weren't visiting your child.
  • You plan your travel based entirely on which station has the cheapest gas.
  • You listened to a daylong sales pitch for a free night's stay.
  • You negotiate at the dollar store.
  • You’re keeping your skinny '80s ties ... just in case they make a comeback.
  • You were frisked for sugar packets when leaving Cracker Barrel.
  • You gave me the dreaded combination “Christmas/birthday” present.
  • Your precious childhood memories became a little less precious when you discovered ebay.
  • You last went to the movies to see Star Wars … the first one, which is now the fourth one, but I digress.

As you might know from my earlier posts, I’m all about financial responsibility. But take it from a guy who drives a car with 118,000 miles and counting, you can go overboard.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snuggling up to Stupid Commercials

My son and I have been arguing a lot lately about commercials, the stupidest commercials on television, to be exact.

It's all boiled down to this: Big City Slidder Station vs. Snuggie.

I'm going with Big City Slidder Station. This small burger press is the latest in the museum of absurd products endorsed by infomercial pitchman extraordinaire Billy Mays. Mays may have been onto something with that orange cleaner stuff, but things have really dried up since then, as evidenced by "The Hercules Hook" and "Mighty Puddy."

Now, he's pitching the Big City Slidder Station, a contraption that apparently shapes and cooks Whitecastle-like hamburgers. My favorite part of the commercial is when Billy shows us an old-fashioned hamburger literally flying out of the pan like a greased meteorite. Damned dangerous malformed burgers!

It's a terrible commercial, but my son, Trent, argues that the Snuggie commercial is even worse. The Snuggie is basically a blanket with arm holes, giving cold consumers an amazing combination of warmth and dexterity. After all, you have to be Houdini-like to escape from those strangling traditional blankets.

Additionally, the Snuggie has the terrific side effect of making anyone who wears it look like a Catholic priest or a wizard from Harry Potter. After a recent airing of the commercial, Trent said blithely, "Ever hear of a robe?"

That's the big problem with these commercials. They represent products that solve nonexistent problems. I've somehow gotten by all these years by patting out my own hamburgers. How uncivilized! I don’t dress like a wizard, yet I'm warm.

It makes me wonder who buys these things. I'm thinking only somebody who would pay with those Obama silver dollars.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Shoe Toss Heard Around the World

Why is it more people aren't outraged by an attempted assault on the president of the United States? That's a question I've been asking myself a lot lately in the wake of the shoe toss heard around the world.

Following are some of the comments I've heard, from educated people, no less:

  1. Too bad he didn't hit him
  2. Should've thrown a brick
  3. Stuff that makes the first two comments seem tasteful

The same people who would be begging for police protection if someone hurled even an insult at them, find this incident acceptable -- or even merited. Worse yet, they delight in it, as if Bush finally got what was coming to him.

News coverage of the event seems mostly intent on embarrassing the president.

Over the last several years, I've heard a lot about supposed hate speech bred by right-wing commentators. Apparently, hate speech cuts both ways, as evidenced by the way some people embrace this zealot and his lawlessness.

As I've said already, this wasn't an innocent case of free expression in my book. It was an outright attempt to injure our commander in chief. Wonder how many people would stand for a loved one being attacked with a shoe?

I applaud President Bush for his measured response -- as well as his quick reflexes.

Even if you don't like Bush, our president deserves respect, regardless of whether you voted for him or agree with his party or policies. We'll all be reminded of that soon enough, just not until Obama takes the oath.

Friday, December 12, 2008

They Don't Always Live Happily Ever After

I was pondering my favorite movies the other day when I noticed an alarming trend. If you’re the lead actor in one of my favorite flicks, your days are probably numbered.

From Cool Hand Luke to One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, the lead actors in my favorite movies don’t usually make it to the closing credits. I’m one of those guys who wished they had whacked Tony Soprano. Thinking about a sequel? Fughgetaboutit!

I’m not sure what this says about me. Perhaps, I watch movies for an emotional release … and there’s nothing more gut-wrenching than watching the lead pay the ultimate price.

Let me give you an example. There’s a move called In the Line of Fire. In it, Clint Eastwood plays the only Secret Service agent ever to lose a president (JFK). It’s the ultimate tale of redemption as Eastwood sacrifices everything to save the current commander in chief.
Of course, Clint saves the president, gets the girl and lives to fight another day. It’s a decent movie, but it could be better. To me, there was a more challenging – and perhaps more fitting – ending. In my version, Clint takes the bullet … and the Oscar!

Don’t worry. Clint got it right in another movie, Million Dollar Baby.

I don’t know why I don’t enjoy a traditional “happily ever after” ending. It’s probably my mom’s fault. After all, she’s the one who took me to Charlotte’s Web.