Thursday, July 31, 2008

Cards Everywhere, Part II

Finally! A new poker post! It's been four years since my last one, and it's amazing that the entire televised poker world has slipped under my bloggian radar for so many years. Time to catch up. I might have been somewhat prophetic in my initial article, but now, I'll throw some quips about the cast and characters involved, with their requisite shows. I'll start by stating the obvious; poker, as a game, trend, or phenomenon, has grown far too big for its general britches. That said, here are my thoughts about the televised poker scene these days, as it has to do with its shows and commercials. Next one will have to do with the people. For now, eat up. I'll say it again, but FIVE posts until #100!

TV Shows

World Series Of Poker
Shown on ESPN and its myriad child channels, this series is run into the ground, showing all main event competition from 2003 forward, over and over again. The commentators are good ones, particularly Norman Chad, a wise-cracking fellow with plenty of catch phrases and self-deprecating thoughts to support the main commentator, Lon McEachern. Unfortunately, since Chris Moneymaker broke new ground by winning a few years ago, ESPN has been running all of the tournaments into the ground.

Poker After Dark
The show airs on NBC late at night, and focuses on a single table of "high rollers" who are supposedly prominent in the poker world. The show, however, will put anybody to sleep, due to its limited commentary and focus on table talk. As such, the viewer is subjected to constant hypnotic sounds of chip jangling and utter silence. Really tough to get through a one hour episode after a long day. It's snore city.

World Poker Tour
Usually, this series involves an odd assortment of characters that nobody had ever heard of before, competing in a strange venue like an offshore island. For cryin' out loud, the show only airs on the Travel Channel. I'm sure people looking for prospective travel destinations would love to see a bunch of gruff poker monsters tossing chips at a table in Bermuda. Nothing beats the bright commentary of the always relevant Vince Van Patton, however.

US Poker Championship
Again, aired by ESPN to death. It invariably involves a bunch of New Jersey based players with rough attitudes, cab driver hats, and bad personalities. Fortunately, they haven't been showing these reruns as much lately, but it's never interesting, because nobody involved in the final couple tables are ever interesting.

High Stakes Poker
Another annoying show, mostly because of the money that the invited poker players bring to the table. It is supposedly a pure cash game, with chips and a dealer, but invariably some players insist on bringing along a stack of bundled 100 dollar bills for use when necessary. Ok, I don't want to see someone throwing around a 10,000 dollar stack of cash when I am grousing for dollars in the real world. It's just an arrogant show of wealth and simultaneously sickens me when these players bet money that could be going to a charity or similar good cause. Nothing more than a bunch of rich players showing off for the "have nots".

The Commercials
The always entertaining Phil Hellmuth is the spokesperson for this poker-based web site. He's warmed up to being the brat of poker, and takes to stupid stunts with bad production in the commercials for this site. One commercial shows him driving a new "Ultimate Bet" race car, and subsequently driving it into a concrete structure. Another shows him "testing" the company's web site's capabilities, but never once does he touch a mouse. Sure, we all use the internet without touching a mouse. Okie dokie.

In these commercials, various poker "celebrities" are signed on to do dramatic spots for the PokerStars site. One involves Vanessa Rousso, the only true cutie in poker, so I won't whine about her participation; hey, money is money, although since she just completed her law degree, I don't understand why she decided to sell out for this. That said, this site is a substantive one, employing many poker professionals and spotlighting a couple odd ones for commercials. They keep running this Russian player that we're all supposed to know, some Katya Kasdlkjyflya or whatever, and I've yet to see her in any televised poker competition. Good luck, my Russian comrade!

Yes, I told you I'd mention these jerks in as many postings as possible. They suck!

Stay tuned for the next post, which will be very soon, about poker players and the "celebrities" they've become. Five (5) posts until #100!!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Revenge Of Commercials

Time to revisit the annoying commercials of late, there are, as usual, too many to mention. Six (6) postings to go until the gala 100th posting celebration!

National Collectors Mint
They strike again (minting pun intended) with some weird, silverish $20 piece that's intended to commemorate the 7th anniversary of 9/11. 7th? And again, pulling the 9/11 rabbit out of a hat, with that implied 9/11 guilt tactic at hand. If we don't purchase this important "piece of history" then uh oh, we're so careless and evil, we should be shunned from society. In addition, the Statute of Scumitations now must apply, since it's been enough years that this sleazeball operation won't even bother donating even a modicum of its sales toward the various (very active) funds for the familes affected by the original tragedy. Kindly roast in hell, National Collectors Mint.

Secret Commercial
A painfully, painfully annoying chick runs around town, finding pointless excuses to raise her arms and flash her stupid pits. She hails a cab, the cab pulls over, and tells the poor, hard working driver that she didn't need a cab. She goes on to give a "high five" to someone and salute an aged doorman. Finally, she holds her arms up in a "surrender" position while standing in front of a police car, again to show off her arm pits. They should have arrested this bimbo on the spot.

I was intending to work an anti-Vonage rant into every article until I hit the magic 100th posting. Well, I suppose I somewhat dropped the ball on that. I did manage to figure out that the woman in the commercials is Liz Beckham, she even has a little self-promotional web presence. Apparently she used to appear on Chappelle's Show. I'd say that her appearances on these commercials is a bit of a career downfall, but then again, she's neither had, nor likely will have, such disturbingly extreme exposure.

Ass-Wiping Bears

A toilet paper company keeps peddling its wares by utiilizing a motherless family of fat, dumpy, lumbering cartoon bears. Invariably, the wisened father figure shows the stinky, unwiped, junior bear what should be used on his tender bottom. Since when did bears start buying and using toilet paper? They're out in the wild, they've got leaves, or rabbits, or whatever. Since when does toilet paper indicate the further development of an entire cartoon species? We don't need to horrify children any further. What about Pernell Roberts' stinky kids out in Africa? They don't even have pants. The cartoon bears don't either, but they have plenty of ass paper.
Another one of the latest and greatest. We eager consumers are told to scoop up our presumably discarded gold jewelry - you know, unimportant heirlooms and wedding jewelry - and dump them into a tacky mailer. Who's stupid enough to put all their gold into an envelope and mail it away? That's worse than sending cash in the mail. I wonder what this company's stock response would be..."Gee, you sent us gold? Boy oh boy, we never received it, sorry Zeke - you know how unreliable the postal service can be." At this point the sounds of office laughter are curtailed by a "shush" gesture from the office bitty.

The Planter's Scary Woman
Getting a little tired here! Certainly not to the dreaded Vonage level, but the commercial involves an ugly, uni-browed woman, prancing in the streets with guys fawning over her. Why? She rubbed a Planter's nut on her body. It just ends unpleasantly (as if it started pleasantly) with a snippet of her rubbing the nut between her "rack". Something about seeing this ugly woman in my mind's eye inherently precludes any appetite I might have had for their highly processed cashews. Have fun, peddle thy wares with ugliness.

I have no idea where they found this crackhead, but apparently there's been a trend for mining frightening-looking monsters for commercials, such as the annoying bozo with the huge afro haircut in the Alltel spots. Anyway, this burnout drives his car through the Midas station's front door, and calmly states (with all the demeanor of a 'lude addict) "I think I need new brakes". The attendants, much too old to be stuck at a Midas franchise, calmly mention the company's new brake checkup plan, and don't think anything of the $30,000 of structural damage imparted by the the wacky prescription forger. The whole scenario makes no sense, and merely invites idiots from the chaotic real world to start wantonly driving their cars into auto repair shops with a lame excuse that their brakes were worn.

Crest Whitening Strips
FINALLY! Some advertising agency out there actually wrote some semantically correct copy. They mentioned that the dental strips or whatever will help brighten the teeth with 5 minutes a day. Not "in", but "with". I ranted about this before. Tons of Vapid Voice props are due to the brilliant copy writer that finally did things properly. Make yourself known! I command thee! That said, purchase this product! Shameless endorsement. Hey, it is a good counter to my constant protests against stupid Vonage.

The Stupid Fox (Again)
I've mentioned this one before, but yes, the stupid cartoon fox still leaves his money hungry stench in the corners of that which is late night television commercials. Once again, the fox is convincing us to start a home based business, and listen to the testimonials of doughy middle American PCH rejects who supposedly struck it rich by listening to a poorly animated cartoon character.

Creepy Foot Care
There are a couple disturbing foot care commercial that are shown all too often. One involves the "Ped Egg", which scrapes away dead tissue. Fine, don't show me before/after clips, I'm eating here. Then there's a Tinactin commercial with some ugly cartoon guy burning up from Athlete's Foot, hammered home by the consistently over-the-top voice of John Madden. Finally there is the always untrustable Japanese foot pad commercial, which claims to detoxify one's body in a mere fortnight. No thank you, again - I'm eating.

Boris The Whore

Now Boris Becker is showing up sporadically for commercials during tennis tournaments. Why? To promote tennis equipment? Nope, it's to promote the fact that he's back. Not in tennis, though. Poker. He's hawking a poker web site and latching onto what's left of his notoriety, and clearly just trying to dig out from all of his past tax evasion attempts.


Saturday, July 05, 2008

Parking Lots

I've had past rave-ups about the wonder worlds of driving and going to the store. Well, hell, why not combine these wonderful side-thorns into the beautiful middle ground between the two, known as the store/mall parking lot! It's peanut butter and chocolate for bitter misanthropes like yours truly. I wondered if I'd have enough material for a respectable posting, but after some extensive consideration (i.e. going to a parking lot), it was a landslide vote toward justification of its own article, and as such, infinite internetness (New word, honey, you know who you are). For what it's worth, the parking lot is a fascinating microcosm of all that is annoying about people, and by extension, the vehicles that they use to exude their inner pathetique. Happy 4th. Yes, I know it's now the 5th, but I'm late to everything. By the way, kids, only SEVEN more posts until the big 100th article jamboree! Do NOT miss that one! Coming in August, dates to be mentioned later. I'm working on it. Sadly I really am. C'mon man, I got nowhere else to go! I got nowhere else to go! Ah, Gere. Ah, Bach. Oh by the way, I decided, at least until I get to #100, I'll be creating cryptograms for a select few people that might understand my intentions. Trust me, they aren't worth the time to decode, and they are just personal things anyway. Just ignore them, it's more just for self gratification. Thanks and pardon our dust! On with the show.

(Cryptogram : The CTA Train took the Confederate General, would not pass this, and then followed anchors. Check your bottlecaps. Anyway, on to the article...)

The Cars Have Eyes
Every time I sit in a car for more than 2 minutes, invariably, there will be a couple creepy lurkers, sitting in an adjacent car, watching me. If I do anything mildly odd, like talk on the phone in my car, or drink something while chilling out in the car, I always see these creepy people staring back at me through the window of their broken down El Camino in the next spot. What are you people doing? If I drop some groceries or trip over something, it's a guarantee that I'll look up to see one or two pairs of beady eyes leering at me through their partially (and unprofessionally) tinted windows. Who are you people? Either leave the car or leave the premises. I can even tolerate the ones that are taking a nap in their parked car - hey, more power to ya, at least you aren't watching my every move.

Cart Corrals
They came up with the cart corral thing about 20 years ago, with the intention of all the happy customers "pitching in" and putting their shopping carts all into one place. First, the signs always say that by helping put the carts into this makeshift set of parallel bars, that the customers would help keep prices at a minimum. Why? The stores still have full time employees collecting the damn carts anyway, now they just don't have to walk as much. You know what, pot-head Metallica fan cart collector guy? I'm going to put my cart right by my car. You can come get it. The extra leg work will help you appreciate that hastily purchased weed so much more. You're welcome. Rock on.

The Snow Plow People
When the hell of a nice hefty winter snowfall comes around, then the magic of the store parking lot takes on a whole new identity. First of all, after about six inches of snow, you won't see the plow people till the lot is at its emptiest, like at four in the morning. Fine, great, wonderful. The problem is, if you're one of the unfortunate souls looking for a frozen pizza and some skinny jimmys around that time, you have to become Snake Pliskin in an icy equivalent of downtown hell. These plow people will salt your car, assault your car, salt you, assault you, run you over, run after you, you name it. They're amped up on God knows what, plowing snow into 20 foot tall embankments at 30 miles per hour, doing doughnuts in the middle of the lot like a Zamboni with a penicillin allergy. Yes I know Zambonis are machines and can't technically have allergies, but be creative, dear reader. By 8am, the lot will be well plowed and cleared of snow and ice, in time for the morning rush. Unfortunately, there will be several casualties trapped in a few man made snow piles - you'll find them by looking for the second hand galoshes and Totino's box.

Bad Timing
Every time I am trying to get in or out of my car, the following will be the case. An crumbling old bat will be taking hours to get in or out of her car's door in an adjacent parking spot, thus forcing me to wait until Grandma Ethel moves her walker, cane, and heart meter in/out of the vehicle. Only when I am needing to enter/exit my car. Similarly, I'll run into the situation when the happy mommy needs about 40 minutes to buckle/unbuckle her kids, and spray all the car doors open on either side, thus paralyzing all adjacent parking spots until little Audrey, Blake, and Dylan are safely in their new spots.

River Raid Syndrome
I discussed this long ago in my complaints about driving. River Raid was a game when you, a plane flying along the middle of a river at nearly its surface, would have to shoot or dodge boats that and other things that would conveniently pop out from the side at the worst possible times. That said, when I'm trying my best to drive down an aisle toward the typically inconvenient exit point, the bright white "backup lights" will start popping up on either side, and it's just a matter of time before one of these dopes back out right into the side of my car. Some of them have to do it through blind guesswork, thanks to...

The Wall of SUVs
Another fascinating wet Pringle of irony that visits my vehicular ballet known otherwise as parking lot navigation is the visual wall of SUVs and vans. When perpendicularly parked in a lot with an aisle that's barely wide enough to allow two cars to pass each other in opposing directions, it's a great festival of guesswork to be parked between two hulking, tall vehicles. That wondrous twist of fate leaves me with no choice but to blindly back out of the spot and hope for blue sky, expect the grouchy extended horn honky from a passing driver, or dread the sound of metal hitting metal. It's always one of the three, and these days, I'm lucky to have avoided the third one in this wondrous game of low speed Russian Roulette.

The Parking Lot Snipers
In larger mall lots, you'll find the wide, lazy expensive cars that seem entitled to a parking spot that is one of the top 50 or 60 closest spots amongst the 6000 in the entire lot. These wizards of strategy will sit and block one lane of traffic in an aisle for as long as necessary, while Grandma Slowmenstein bumbles with her dozens bags containing ugly sweaters and shirts for her adorably spoiled descendants. While Grandma S. sorts out her belongings and packs everything away into the car that is parked in such a prime spot, Aunt Fatass sits there in her Lincoln Contental, content to block traffic and listen to "My Beautiful Balloon" in climate controlled comfort. These idiots will sit long enough for people to siphon their gas.

The Unlucky Samaritan
Maybe it's just me (that should just begin every passage), but especially in winter, I always get stuck coming back to my car that's parked next to the guy whose car needs a jump start. Grumble, it's midnight, I'm cold, and now I'm risking electrocution for an idiot whose 1979 Horizon still has a Die Hard battery from back when Sears was thriving on selling soft pretzels and bad Pacman cartridges. If I'm in any type of helpful frame of mind, I'll help the poor bastard even though

- None of my good deeds ever go unpunished,
- All my good deeds have never yielded good karma
- Nobody's ever around to offer help for my car

On a similar token, I'll be asked for help from the moron who's locked out of his/her car. Now, I've been locked out of my car twice - once it wasn't my fault, and the other time was 19 years ago. How hard is it? Keys out of ignition, put in pocket, lock door, enter store. I know I sound like Professor Falkan from War Games there, and maybe I am a living version of same.

Parking Lot Teen Losers
These are the kids that just hang out in a big parking lot, usually in a big group, and either perch on their bikes or skateboard around. Ok, I was a teen once, and one that knew enough people to justify hanging out. There were always five billion better places than the middle of a grocery store parking lot for hanging out. It's so stupid. There are parks, malls, anything. Stupid, stupid.

Unfortunately, I often see the insane dog, locked in a car, on a questionably warm day. That's just wrong. Sometimes the window might be cracked, like that's going to provide a zephyr of air conditioned comfort to an animal covered in fur. Nice call, Mitzy - you go shop for your quality cuts of tenderloin, while Fido boils in his own entrails. And for that matter, does anyone name their dog Fido, Spot, or Rover anymore? I'd almost be inclined to take a poll. Anyway, getting back to the topic, I've been tempted to open the doors and just take the damn dogs before, and if the door is unlocked the next time I see such a situation, I'm moving in. I suppose I could leave a nasty note telling Mitzy where she can reclaim her par-broiled companion of convenience. Bitches. And I don't mean the four-legged ones.