Monday, May 31, 2004

Pig Anus

Staying on the subject of TV, and continuing the general theme of nitpicking, I have a minor beef with Fear Factor.

If you pitched Fear Factor to me, I'd be genuinely enthused and interested. Take a person who is afraid of spiders, make him go through a gauntlet of spiders, force him to face his fear. Ditto a person who is afraid of heights, or snakes, or open-spaces - this would all be great entertainment. So far I'm on board.

Now watch an average episode of this show, and you're likely to see someone being egged on to eat a plate of raw pig-anus, or jump across trucks on a highway, or lie in a tub of maggots. Who can conquer their fear!

But here's the problem. Not wanting to eat dog feces is not a "fear". It's a perfectly normal, healthy attitude to have about dog feces. No one should be encouraged to tackle their fear of eating pig shit. When early man wasn't repulsed by pig shit, he ate it and died, and didn't pass on his genes. Today we are all disgusted by pig shit and will live longer for it.

So someone doesn't want to jump between moving big-rigs on a highway. This is because that someone, I think quite naturally, DOESN'T WANT TO DIE. This is not a phobia. Claustrophobia is a phobia. Arachnophobia is a phobia. Not wanting to get crushed under a semi is NOT a phobia.

Now if you wanted to have a show where people would be offered ridiculous sums of money to do disgusting things, like "will you eat this pig shit for a $1 million?", then I'm all for it. But "Who will be the first to conquer their crybaby fear of eating pig anus?" is essentially putting forward the idea that "real men eat pig anus".

So my advice: stick with the irrational fears. There's plenty of them, you won't run out.

Sunday, May 30, 2004


In a way it doesn't seem fair to bitch excessively about TV commercials since they can be so easily avoided. But what can I do?

There's dozens and dozens of common irritating factors that you'll see in many commercials. Hopefully, I will someday cover them all. But here's the one that got stuck in my craw today. The phrase "It's about X."

It's about family.
It's about trust.
It's about getting the most out of each day.
It's about the long term.
It's about reliability.

What's about reliability? What is about reliability? Let's say the commercial opens with a happy family pulling their rugged Nissan SUV up to the beach. While music plays, they happily unload beach chairs and coolers from the spacious cargo area.

"It's about safety."

WHAT IS ABOUT SAFETY! The car is about safety? Do you mean the car is safe? Is it the decision to buy the car that is about the safety? One should buy this car if one is concerned with safety?

Look, obviously the authors of the commercial were handed their bullet points from the marketers. The commercial, they were instructed, needed to stress the safety and reliability of the car, and should probably also mention that it's great for families. Fine! Fine fine fine. I have no problems with commercials. I understand that their existence is what pays for my entertainment. I have no problem with being pitched an SUV and having the safety, reliability and family-friendliness pointed out to me.

But "It's about family." DOESN'T MEAN ANYTHING. It's a way of communicating the bullet point to you in a nonsensical, but easily digestible format that you've come to accept because you've heard it so often.

P.S. Hair can't be "healthy". Hair is dead.


Hi Folks!

Rowsdower here. Welcome to my journal of little, trifling inconveniences and other things that annoy me. Right now, I've got a game of poker going on the other monitor and a lite beer in my free hand - so there hasn't been a lot of forethought in this enterprise. I just kind of browsed my way in here. But let's jump right in.

My friend from my old job is taking his wife to the hospital tonight to induce labor. It's going to be a girl. This is a really nice guy, his wife is nice. Nice family. But they've been fighting over the name. He wants "Skylar". She wants to invent a new name, and has chosen Arhia (pronounced just like Aria). They've compromised and now the girl will be Skylar Arhia.

This is just so sad for the kid. I'm more sad here than annoyed, though I am annoyed. These people who want to invent names are just insane. You're dooming the kid to a lifetime of having to correct people's spelling and pronunciation.
And Skylar... This is just one of those trendy names like Tyler or Cody. Do you know how popular the name Madison has gotten in the last 5-10 years? It's one of the top ten names for girls. How is Madison any different than Tiffany? It's a terrible, terrible name.

I think baby names come in a few general categories:

Way the Hell out there

I think uncommon is the best way to go. Although you can't really go wrong with plain.

Plus this couple is hyphenating their last names for the children, so the girl will have four names.

There's obviously lots more to talk about when considering baby names, and of course, I've never had to name a baby. But I think it needs to be said: don't invent any names, and don't choose a trendy one. How to know if it's trendy? Hmm. Well, if you associate the name more with a TV character than a real person, I'd say that's a sign. Like Dylan. If you have ever named a child Dylan, you are an idiot.