Anachostic

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Category Archives: Wondering

Fuck You, Reflection Of Myself!

There’s been a recent raft of shit going on at work lately.  When I say shit, I mean literal shit, but I don’t mean there’s a literal raft involved.  This shit affects me, and a couple of my co-workers, but it isn’t a co-worker’s shit.  It’s simply a matter of mistaken identity and unwarranted aggression from an idiot doing idiotic things.  Fucking bird.

It’s a stupid female cardinal that must have a nest of stupid cardinal babies in a nest in a tree above our cars.  And at various times times during the day, this helicopter mom, this smotherfucker, swoops down to our cars because it sees itself in our rear view mirrors.  It then proceeds to flap around and attack its reflection in the mirror.  I’m not sure if the shitting part is because the bird thinks it won or because it thinks it’s losing the fight, but our cars all have bird shit on the doors from the fight.  I can see marks on my window from the feathers flapping furiously in a highly-alliterative sentence.

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I’ve even been in the car during the attacks.  I’m just chilling out, using my new Android phone, which has been a big pile of meh, and I’ll see bitch bird flapping and pecking around at the car beside me, or sometimes it comes to my car.  Bitch bird stands on the door’s window sill and makes a big fuss over the other bird in the door mirror.  It makes me wonder about about the canary I had as a little kid.  Was it cruel to put a mirror in the cage and laugh when the bird pecked at it?  I was told that birds liked to look at themselves.  This stupid bird sure doesn’t.

So, to keep my car door from getting shat all over, I started covering up my mirror with a cleaning rag.  That seemed to work except the bitch went over to the passenger side to fight. So I need two cleaning rags.

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Where Are The Dine-ins?

It was a couple months ago that a Sonny’s BBQ restaurant near my workplace abruptly closed with no warning.

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I later found out they closed another location in a neighboring town.  While this affected me for my lunchtime meals, I still had my local Sonny’s I could visit.  My local restaurant was recently remodeled, whereas this one that closed did not remodel.

Maybe a month ago, I was driving and I saw that a Pizza Hut restaurant that I would visit had closed.  Later investigation showed that it had moved to a new location.  I called their number and found out they were delivery/carryout only now.  No more dine-in.

This week, since that hut had closed, I went to my other Pizza Hut location.  I was shocked to find that it was closed as well.  As I kept driving, wondering what to do, I caught a brand new Pizza Hut sign in the plaza just down the road.  I pulled in to check it out.  No surprises, no dine-in.

The other night, I’m driving home and I see a brand new sign in a plaza near my house – Pizza Hut.  This signals to me that the dine-in Pizza Hut just down the road is also closing in short order.  Now, I don’t eat at that one because unlike the other two I visited, this one doesn’t have a salad bar.

So that’s three Pizza Huts in my immediate area (immediate meaning within 30 mins; my travel range is greater than most people’s) have closed their dine-in facilities in favor of delivery/carryout only locations.  It makes me wonder what the future holds.  Restaurants are generally very sensitive to the economy and supposedly the economy is doing awesome right now.  But is it?  Why are places closing or downsizing?

Gone Girl

I was waiting in line to check out and the people behind the counter were talking obliviously.  You know, some people just don’t realize they’re talking in public.  I wasn’t really paying any attention to them until I heard, “Yeah, they found her body out back.”  And I, and probably anyone else that would have heard that, understood that we are talking about someone who died.

On my way out of the store, I started thinking about how curious our language is and how we say things that have a very specific meaning.  Also, that those things we say have a deeper philosophical meaning.  She said, “they found her body”, not “they found her”.  It’s a statement that says your body is a part of you or belongs to you, but it is not you.  It’s like “they found her shoes out back”, but no one would ever say, “I got halfway to work and realized I forgot my body.  Mondays, right?”

When we talk about people, we are usually unintentionally talking about their soul or spirit.  Statements like “Is he still with us?” or “No, he’s gone” are usually not talking about the physical aspect of a person.  And I sort of find that weird that this concept is accepted among the faithful and the not.  Even among the most atheist, there’s still a believe that when you’re dead, you are apart from your body.  I would guess that even if they don’t believe in an afterlife or a spirit, they can’t just erase that person from their memory, so in a sense, that person does live on, at least in their mind.

And although it’s a little contrived, this language lends support to the concept that you are not your body.  Your physical appearance isn’t what defines you.  People that believe in auras and astral bodies would wholeheartedly agree with that.

Marketing 101

There is an idiom from the the 1800’s: “hang out one’s shingle” which means to put out a sign saying you’re open for business.  I suppose that was a sufficient way of doing things when the world was small and everyone you knew was right around you.  Plus, there was much less competition back then, too.  You had your town doctor, lawyer, barber, woodworker, etc.

That is not the world anymore.  Now there is much more competition and you must stand out from the others that would take your business.  You should always put your best foot forward (another idiom) to represent your business.

So why, why, why, do people make hard-drawn signs for their business?  Specifically, I am referring to a sign I saw over the weekend that gave me the chills.

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That’s not the only time I’ve seen something like that, but it’s the worst example of its kind.  Now, aside from the spray paint stencil lettering that looks nothing like blood splatter, there’s the important information, like contact info.  It’s written in tiny letters cramped along the bottom.  How are you supposed to read that from your car?

Then there is the issue of legitimacy.  If you can’t see it, the sign says they are “License”, complete with quotation marks.  I don’t know if it’s worse that they don’t know that the correct term is “licensed” (which, btw, I followed a truck this morning that said “License and Insured”) or that they don’t know that putting things in quotes makes those things questionable.  In either case, I don’t think I would trust their intelligence to supervise children.

But let’s recap the idea of hanging out your shingle.  I’ve been involved in some business ventures.  It’s not easy; I’m not cut out for it.  But, I think if you’re going to go into business, you have an obligation to everyone to be professional.  You know, that sign on the side of the road doesn’t only represent you, it represents all of your customers as well.

Let’s say you personally don’t have an issue sending your kid to a place whose signage suggests it is a house of horror.  And if someone asks you for a recommendation, you say they have the sign out by the stop light down the road.  That person’s impression of blood-sign marketing may be disgust, which then alters their opinion of you.  As they say, you will be known by the company you keep.  Always align yourself with reputable associations.

If you’re going to go into business, do it right, or please don’t do it at all.

I Can’t Sleep – Web Crawl

This crawl started by seeing AK in a snapchat picture with a BK+Budweiser filter.  I wondered what that bullshit was all about and ended up reading a press release saying Burger King had a limited time burger for sale.

The burger was hyped as best as it could be, I suppose.  It was a double cheeseburger with more shit on it.  The part that caught my eye was “features two savory flame-grilled beef patties totaling more than ¼ lb.* of beef”  Wow, guys.  Two patties to make a quarter-pounder, huh?  I’m not going to say it’s more than a quarter pound, because otherwise they’d be bragging it was 1/3 pound.  Or maybe not, since stupid Americans don’t understand 1/3 is more than 1/4.

Anyway, that got me reminiscing about how I used to love double cheeseburgers at BK.  They were the absolute best value on the menu.  And then they shrunk the fuck out of them around the great recession, 2008 or so.  I wish I could prove it.

Maybe I can.  I went looking for nutritional information and ended up on a site that had these impressively accurate meter thingies about the BK double cheeseburger.

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Does the taste good?  Of course the does!

And from this page, I got a number, a serving size.  171 grams, which is .377 pounds and must include the bun.  So, how do I find out how good things were back in the day?  Well, I use my favorite tool for exposing embarrassing facts, the Wayback Machine.

Looking at the nutritional info for the double cheeseburger on BK’s site from 1999, I get another number, 198, which is .436 pounds.  So, you do the math and see how much it’s lost over the years.  Tip, calculate it as a percentage to make it sound more impressive.  The Fake News Media does it all the time. (Seriously, I don’t care which side you’re on or what you believe.  If you see an article on anything that only uses percentages, be skeptical.  They’re selling it to you.)

But that’s not the end of the data.  After I got the serving size from the old archived BK website, I felt like an idiot for not just going to the current BK site instead of this “Durr, click Delicious or Disgusting button, pleez” website.  And when I went to BK’s current site, I got yet another number. As of May 2018, the size of a double cheeseburger is 148 grams, or .326 pounds.

To summarize, in 1999, BK’s double cheeseburger was .436 pounds, and in 2018 it is .326 pounds.  That’s a reduction of .110 pounds, which is a 25% reduction from the 1999 size. Oh no! Percentages!  I’ve destroyed my credibility by at least 108%.

Revisiting Taxes

For a few years, I used to do a post on taxes, specifically regarding the “marriage penalty”.  It was a rant post because I was married at the time and we were getting dicked over by this penalty.  Things have gotten a lot better in that regard lately (as in me getting divorced), so I stopped making those posts back in 2013.

I saw a post by someone who was complaining that the new tax laws were changing his taxes for the worse.  By using an estimating calculator, he had to increase his withholding rate, but was getting more back per paycheck.  It sounds like a strange con game, give me more and I’ll give you more.  And simply because of that weirdness, I got wondering how the marriage penalty shakes out under the new tax law.  So I went looking.

Here’s the surprise, there is no marriage penalty anymore (for the common person).  If you are a married filer, your tax table breaks at 2X the single income – at every bracket.  Except… if you make over $300,000 each.  Like I commented, not the common couple.

It would make sense that any tax “improvement” would offer a gain for normal income people and a proportionally higher gain for extraordinary income people.  That’s a gripe for another post.  The point of this post is that the marriage penalty is gone.

Just for retrospective kicks, let’s look at what could have been if we did not have the tax “reform”.  Looking at the 2017 tax brackets, as in all other years, the disconnect happens in the upper tier of the 25% bracket.  If you are single, you would be bumped to the 28% bracket at $91,900.  If you have two married people making $76,550 each, that couple will be taxed at 28%.  That is the marriage penalty – you are bumped to a higher tax rate sooner from your combined wages.  Said another way for clarity, if you and your partner made $77k each and were not married, you each got taxed at 25%.  Then you get married and with no change to your salaries, now you’re paying 28% in taxes.  And that sucks even harder if you get married later in the year, because your employer has been withholding taxes expecting you to be in a 25% bracket.  You will have less withheld when you do your taxes and learn you’re now at 28%.

You might think this new tax table is awesome, especially if you were previously hit with the marriage penalty, but it’s not better or worse, just different.  The marriage penalty primarily affects DINKs (dual-income, no kids), especially young professionals, and in these modern times, married gay people.  The tax system up to now has favored and encouraged one married member being a breadwinner and the other being a homemaker.  This high income of the breadwinner has no extra income from the homemaker and is able to utilize the full deduction of both people against one income.

So, now that the incentive is gone to have two people living under one income, all the people who structured their marriage in this way, on purpose, or by accident, or by default, they are going to pay more in taxes.  That could be the case for this post I read.

Florida, The Bakery

I’ve been seeing a lot of billboards lately with a new slogan: “Drive Baked, Get Busted”.  It just kind of appeared out of nowhere and suddenly, it was everywhere.  Ok, yeah, police want (stupid) people to know that driving after getting high is a bad thing. 

I looked this promo campaign up and yes, it is new this year.  Supposedly, it’s because of the new medical pot law in Florida.  If we’re going to have medical pot, we need to let people know that you can’t take your “medication” and go for a drive.  Here’s the funny part.  The ad campaign is primarily targeted to 18-34 year olds.  Exactly the ones that would need medical stoning plants.  Secondarily, the ads target 55-74 year olds.  You know, the ones that smoked pot all the time when they were… 18-34.  But anyway, fuck yeah, Gen-X!  You’re not targeted as pot smokers.  And I find that really dumb, because everyone I knew growing up was perpetually high.

It kind of got me thinking about the whole PSA campaigns for any sort of impaired driving.  First of all, what idiot doesn’t know that driving under the influence of anything is bad? (Anything but driving under the influence of Jesus)  Second, if the person doesn’t know naturally that it’s bad, is a billboard really going to educate them?  Sometimes, I see messages on the traffic warning signs that say, “DUI – Decide before you drive” and I think a lot of people are like, “Already done.”

You just wouldn’t believe the frequency I see impaired drivers on the highways.  If it’s not some drug, then it’s probably tiredness.  Tiredness is an impairment that doesn’t get enough attention.  Maybe a billboard or two would help: “WAKE UP, MOTHERFUCKER!”

The 80’s Synth Invasion

As my music collection grows exponentially, I find it doesn’t grow in any sort of order.  It grows opportunistically.  For example, I don’t particularly buy what I want, I buy what’s available.  And that’s fine, because my tastes are broad enough (and always growing) that there’s always something I’m willing to buy.

It was a little while ago that I picked up my first album by Survivor.  You know, Eye Of The Tiger and all that.  Actually, that was the album I got.  When you’re familiar with a band’s hits and you want to become invested in them, you can take the easy route and buy the greatest hits album, or you can be a man and just buy an album.  At thrift store CD prices, being a man doesn’t cost a whole lot, so that’s where I went.  And I liked it.  They had a good sound and I put Survivor on the list for future album purchases.

That day came a bit later when I picked up another of their albums.  It was my morning commute CD today.  And my experience with the album really led me to thinking deeper about music in the 80s.  Eye of the Tiger was released in 1982 and the album I was listening to came out in 1986.  My thoughts led me to create a shitastic “comic” to express my thoughts.

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The initial point I was trying to make is that the ‘86 album had 10 songs, and 9 of those songs were all keyboard, with the guitar relegated to chunking out 8th notes for rhythm.  The closing track was guitar-driven and really felt out of place with the rest of the album.

Something clicked with me when I listened to each song as it started out with synthesizer chords.  I felt really sorry for the guitar player – well, main guitar player.  The keyboardist also played some guitar.  I suddenly understood the huge pushback against synths from rock acts, which, being a keyboard player myself, I never really appreciated.

Survivor isn’t the only recent instance I noticed this, although it was the most visceral.  I had recently picked up Europe’s album Wings of Tomorrow.  Everyone knows The Final Countdown, sure.  And if you heard the rest of The Final Countdown album, it is also very synth heavy, but it is also well-balanced with guitar work.  But on Wings of Tomorrow, which is the album just before The Final Countdown, there are hardly any synths at all.  The change is remarkable.  Also from the 80’s is the band GTR, a band that was formed by two guitarists who wanted a guitar-driven album.  That’s how bad it was back then.  I didn’t grasp how much of a statement they were making.

Then the Linn drum machine came along and it started to put the pressure on drummers.  Now they could be replaced with rock-solid precision that could be edited at will.  Gina Schock had to fight with the producer to play on The Go-Go’s Talk Show album.  And Mutt Lange, I love his sound, but his reliance on drum machines really grates on me.  I still remember when my innocence was broken when I realized the ZZ Top album I loved so much had no real drums on it.  And then it began a real-or-not hunt on every album I had, which is not how music is supposed to be. 

But there is an infinite palette of music out there for consumption.  I can lament Survivor softening up into a synth ballad band or I can just put on any hair metal from the same era and hear guitar.  There is always something on offer from some band, even if it’s not the band you want to hear it from.  Guitar songs never really went away, they just spread out.  And with my ever-expanding collection, I still find them.

Music Transcends Spirituality, Or Does It?

On my recent mega-thrift run, I picked up a particular CD from a thrift shop.  The thrift shop had one of those CD sections where everything was religious music.  The CD caught my eye because the title was “Portraits in Synthesis” and the cover was very new-agey, although the back design was a little chaotic.  The CD seemed like it would be a nice new-age synthesizer instrumental album, so I spent a couple bucks and got it.

When I got home, with my 19 other CDs, I took a better look at the back and saw the tracks were named all… uncomfortable names.  Things like, “Fairest Lord Jesus”, and “Lord Be Glorified / Spirit Song”, and the rest were similar.  Of course my reaction was, “Goddamn it.  This is a religious album.”  And I left it on the kitchen table while I cleaned up and cataloged my other finds.

The next day, I saw the disc sitting on the counter and picked up it again.  I read more of the back and realized, yes, it was a synth album.  It just had weird song titles.  I looked inside the booklet and there were no lyrics, so, yes, it’s instrumental.  What’s the deal with these titles?

I researched the label the album was published under and learned that it was a subsidiary of a religious music label.  This new child label was made to take advantage of the growing “new age” music popularity of the 80’s.  How weird.  When I think new-age, I actually think of “anti-religion”, not in any evil way, but you know, new-age spirituality. 

Think of the issues that come up when Christian music lovers can’t listen to new-age music because it conflicts with their personal beliefs.  “I can’t listen to this because it’s new-age, and that involves crystals and tantra and whatever a chakra is!”  Well, music finds a way, right?  We’ll publish the same kind of music, but we’ll use religious titles that invoke the names Lord and Jesus and then there’s no moral conflict!  What a genius idea!  It’s genius, but it’s sad, too.  Music doesn’t have any religious affiliation.  It’s agnostic.  And the sad part is that agnosticism isn’t good enough for devout believers.  If it doesn’t fully walk the walk and talk the talk, it’s evil.

I was testing out my car stereo after doing some work on it and the only radio station I could pick up was the local religious station.  Go figure, huh?  And some woman had called in to talk to the radio host and explain how she loved the station and how it gave her whole house a worshipping feel all the time.  That’s what you want your whole life to be?  Like you’re in church all day?

But I try to keep in mind the lyrics from NOFX’s Happy Guy, from Punk In Drublic (Something the devout would never hear anyway):

Don’t try to judge him, his theologian ideal
His hopes may be false but his happiness is real
Don’t try to judge him, he’s just a man

The Definitive Article On Bands

What a misleading title!  Too bad, you’re here now.  I have been puzzling a bit today over the use of “The” in band names when it is not officially part of the band’s name.  The best example of this is “The Eagles”, whom I happened to listen to on my morning commute.  The band is really “Eagles”, but most everyone says, “The Eagles”.  You know.  This oddity was best summed up on a post on a forum that said something like,

If I say, “I love Eagles!”, someone might think that I liked large birds of prey that symbolize freedom in America.  But if I say, “Man, I fucking hate The Eagles!”, everybody knows exactly what I mean.

I thought I had found the answer in an article dealing with this specific topic, but I was unsatisfied with its conclusion.  I delved into my own music library for examples to see if I could make any sense of this.  Here’s a list of candidates from A through C:

  • Acoustic Alchemy
  • Alpha Rev
  • Art Of Noise
  • Blind Melon
  • Blue Man Group
  • Carpenters
  • Cheap Trick
  • Chicago
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • Crowded House
  • Curved Air

This is actually a very good cross-sample, because there are a couple bands in here that are definitely preceded by “the” regularly: Art of Noise and Carpenters.  There’s some you would never consider preceding with “the”, like The Crowded House.  And there’s some that could go either way, like The Blue Man Group.

I thought I was onto something when I made my first hypothesis that you cannot use a definitive article if the first word of the band name is a modifier, like an adjective – Cheap Trick, Crowded House, Curved Air.  So, what kind of guideline is there for say, Art of Noise or Blue Man Group?  I got a hint from the band name Art of Noise – the “of”.  The Blue Man Group is The Group of Blue Man.  The Art of Noise is, well, The Art of Noise.  You couldn’t say The Air of Curved or The House of Crowded, right? 

Let’s find some more examples that may fit this “of” guideline.

  • Dixie Dregs
  • Electric Light Orchestra
  • Hearts of Space
  • Jefferson Airplane (mentioned in the article)
  • Little River Band

And some examples of the initial guideline where an adjective is the first word:

  • Daft Punk
  • Damn Yankees
  • Deep Purple
  • Diesel Boy
  • Dire Straits (also mentioned in the article)
  • Dream Theater
  • Fine Young Cannibals
  • Flying Colors

In this second list, you cannot interject “of”, where in the first list, you can.  Ok, the hypothesis is holding up reasonably well.  That leaves single-word band names like:  Buggles, Carpenters, Chicago, Devo, Dokken.  And also, we have to consider bands that do formally use “the” in their name like: The Cars, The Doors, The Outfield, The Police.

The article I found proposes that if the band name is a plural or collective term, “the” is used or is assumed.  That explains why we force ourselves to say “The Carpenters”, but not “The Chicago”.  However, it doesn’t account for cases like “The Nice” or “The Who” except to potentially argue that excluding the article results in a shitty, confusing name.  “I have tickets to Who tomorrow.  Nice is opening for them.”

So, I think I’ve satisfied myself as to when I can realistically prepend “the” to a band name even when the band does not explicitly do so themselves.  The exceptions to those guidelines, I’ll just have to chalk up to the bullshit of the English language.