Monday, January 31, 2005

Naming your Protagonist "Jack"

An excessive number of fictional protagonists in film, books and television are named Jack. Way more than there should be. But so what?, one might say. Jack is a common name. Like Mike or Bob. Why wouldn't it be common in fiction? It's an "everyman" kind of name, perfect for a protagonist.

But a-haaa! No, it's not! I think we've all been duped into thinking that Jack is a very common name. It is my contention that Jack, a distinctly uncommon name has been elevated to everyman status by a unwitting, subconscious conspiracy of storytellers who are all building off the collective delusion that everyone out there is named Jack.

Now, I desperately wanted to get some hard data to back me up here. I wanted to find some sort of authoritative breakdown of popularity of various male protagonist names. I couldn't find any. I can't prove that Jack is way overrepresented in film relative to its real-life popularity; and yet casually, common-sensically, anecdotally, I am aware that there are just massive amounts of fictional people named Jack. Anybody with me on this one?

Exhibit A: I don't know anyone in real life named Jack. I have never known anyone named Jack. Have I known Johns? Yes. Did any of them abbreviate their names to Jack? Nope.

So there's a little bit of concrete scientific evidence for you.

Exhibit B: Our old friend the social security baby names website: According to the record books, "Jack" was a very popular name in the 20s, 30s, and 40s, and then abruptly declined. Here's a table of Jack's popularity ranking by decade:

1900s 41st 1930s 18th 1960s 106th 1990s 113th
1910s 29th 1940s 37th 1970s 161st 2000s 46th
1920s 17th 1950s 57th 1980s 176th

Look at what the table tells you. (I wanted to import a neat little chart I made, but blogger doesn't host free images) In the 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's, Jack didn't even crack the top 100 boys names. Here in 2005, a strapping young protagonist would likely have been born in the 60s, 70s and 80s, right at the time when Jack was deeply unpopular.

Shaun, Nathaniel, Harold, Dale... these names were allllll more popular than Jack in the 70s. Hell, Chad was no.30 on the list, way ahead of Jack's no.161. Chad. Where are all the movies where Gary Busey or John Travolta play a guy named Chad?

Here's one possibility. The veteran screenwriters who wrote the movies of the 1980s were all born in the 1920s, 30s and 40s, which, admittedly were Jack-dense decades. If you were a 45 year old guy writing the script for a Death Wish sequel, chances are you could have known a lot of Jacks.

So this maybe is how Jack got its foothold. Though it fell out of favor in real life, it was kept alive by the previous generation which enjoyed giving fictional young people they names they remebered as being popular. Once Jack was established as a good go-to name for an everyman, its legacy was assured.

Now look at the gains and strides Jack has made in the 1990s and the 2000s. In 2003, Jack was back to 43rd place. Would it be crazy of me to suggest that the rediscovered popularity of the name is due to the excessive Jack-named protagonist phenominon? If protagonists were commonly named, say, Kenneth - would we be seeing a resurgence of Kens and Kennys?

I just think it's all kind of annoying because now Jack has this loner, hero, tough guy, protagonist-y aura about it. He's a handsome, rugged Harrison-Fordy type lawyer with the biggest case of his life, or a hard
nosed cop who's seen it all and doesn't play by the rules. Bah! You know what I say? Jack is a very plain, unexciting name that quite reasonably lost popularity in the 50s alongside names like Walter and Eugene.

Take a risk and name your next hero Herman, screenwriters. Or Clyde, Earl, Gilbert, Roland or Gene. Or Sylvester.

Oh, and parents, continue naming babies after your favorite TV characters. That's always a smart choice.

Friday, January 28, 2005

This Call to the Bullpen

We're all aware, surely, how commercialism keeps creeping deeper and deeper into baseball. We've all seen the slow roasting spit of rotating ads behind home plate. We're used to the Budweiser play of the game and listening to the color commentator hawking cameras. Last year, the forces of darkness almost succeeded in getting ads put on the bases themselves. Eventually they'll win I'm sure. I mean, why wouldn't you put ads on the bases? Show me the totured logic that would permit ads everywhere else but ban them on a base.

But I save a special kind of hatred for whichever loathsome corporate sponsor is bringing me This Call to the Bullpen. Oh how I despise them. Actually, Major League Baseball deserves much of the blame as well. I hate them both.

Humor me and consider for a minute what it means to say that a sponsor is bringing me this call to the bullpen.

Clearly the sponsor has nothing to do with the decision to switch pitchers. Could the broadcasters say something like "That double play was brought to you by Michelin Tires"? No, of course not. (knock on wood) It makes no sense.

The only thing a sponsor can bring is money. Money to support something in the telecast. Money to support something in the stadium. Sponsors can bring me free bat day, sponsors can pay the janitor's salary, they can buy a fancy new tarp for the rain delay, but dammit, they can't order a pitching change.

"This call to the bullpen is brought to you by Nextel." What is Nextel bringing? What have they paid for? In the telecast, a call to the bullpen means a commercial. Is Nextel really sponsoring the break? Are they paying for Geico and Ditech and Meineke to air 30-second spots? Of course they aren't.

They bring nothing! It's all a damned lie!

And furthermore, it's a profoundly bad marketing decision (where are their SMART goals?). Commercials in ballgames are generally not resented because they occur at natural stopping points. Inning over, take a break. The pitching change is the one occasion during a ballgame when a commercial pops up at an actual moment of tension and excitement. Someone is on base. Someone good is coming to bat. The game is at stake. It's probably the one moment during any given game where a fan really doesn't want to go to commercial. Is this sense of annoyance and frustration really what you want your product associated with?

“Nextel is proud to bring you this commercial break at the exact moment in the game when you least want it. Nextel. Enjoy these commercials.”

That would be a little more honest, wouldn't it. How about if they went for total honesty, abandoning the flimsy pretense that they were actually sponsoring anything:

"This moment in the broadcast is brought to you by Nextel. Nextel is proud to be the proud sponsor of this, the utterance of its own name. Nextel. And now, back to the action.”

At least with that approach, a) I don't associate Nextel with an unwanted interruption, b) Major League Baseball and Nextel don't have to lie and say that something specific is being sponsored, and c) I get credited with a minimum amount of intelligence.

I don't know why I'm picking on Nextel in particular. I don't even know what Nextel is or what they provide. And yet, somehow, they seem like the kind of people that would bring me this call to the bullpen. Is it just me?

Friday, January 21, 2005

Acronyms as a Phony Source of Credibility

"When analyzing a marketing opportunity," said the professor on the first day of my new marketing class, "you want to stay goal oriented. And you want to make sure the goals you set are SMART goals."

"SMART goals," he clarified, "are Specific, Measurable, Aggressive, Relevant, and Time-Based."

I had been following the lecture astutely up to this point, but upon hearing this sentence my spirits sank. A voice echoed in my head: "kkkhhhhhh.... Houston, this is Eagle 1, we have bullshit."

So that's basically it. I'm in for another semester of some nebulous, soft-discipline, pseudo scholarship bullshitting. I had a big ol' dose of this last semester in my management theory class where alliteration was frequently the substitute for actual substance. In that class, the theory of work-group behaviour was described as going through five distinct phases: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning. Never mind that the alliteration ultimately fails because, well, adjourning DOESN'T RHYME. In class, it was pronounced as if it did.

Sometimes I daydream and wish I was getting a masters in something really rigorous, like maybe Physics. You know, in Physics, if you make some kind of discovery or have some startling new theory and want it added to the general body of Physics knowledge, I imagine it's a difficult procedure. I imagine that first you have to get your work published in a legitimate journal, which involves a grueling process of peer review, where no one will cut you the slightest bit of slack. Then you have to go (still imagining here) in front of a panel of respected physicists for a withering cross examination and paper defense. Then, if you somehow survive all that, your paper is manditorily shelved for a three year cool off period where you're expected to go through your work in more detail, looking for your own mistakes. Then it's brought back for fresh scrutiny by entirely new experts who are no less brutal with criticism, and then finally, maybe, if your work still manages not to have been completely debunked, it will be declared acceptable. Then, after 20 years of resentment and nitpicking by your jealous peers, if you're lucky, your work can become widely accepted. This is how it should be.

But hey! In marketing, you jus' gotta whip yourself up an acronym! You're a genius! SMART goals! Relevent AND time-based! And to think, my goals had always been goat-based, or soup-based! Now I know.

But really, I want to take a minute and get into the perniciousness, the dishonesty, of these acronyms and all the other tools of the charlatan scholar.

What is an acronym? Well, if you invent something like say, self-contained underwater breathing apparatus, you may get frustrated saying the whole name so many times. You may find it inconvenient. So you use the abbreviation SCUBA. If you work at the North American Aerospace Defense Command, you might find it easier to just say NORAD. Typically, an acronym reflects the fact that a certain series of words gets repeated so often that an abbreviation is a welcome convenience. An acronym, by its very existence, suggests a well worn phrase or some sort of established truth.

Ah, but the soft-discipline huckster scholar sees acronyms not as useful abbreviations, but as an opportunity! You see, acronyms can be reverse-engineered. You can start with a concept like "smart goals" and then come up with a few words that spell out the word smart, and then suddenly you're magically in possession of some homespun wisdom.

The huckster's plan is that the very existence of his acronym will suggest some sort of real-world history of his goal approach. The acronym suggests that at one point, people in the marketing business walked around saying "You know what we always say around here Bob, make sure your goals are specific, measurable, aggressive, relevant and time-based!" And then eventually, one person spoke up: "You know something Bill... we repeat that mantra so often - isn't there some way of summing it up or condensing it?"

"Hmm. You got a point there Bob. Well, the adjectives do spell out the word SMART..."

"What a coincidence! We can call them 'SMART goals'.

"Yes... I see your point! It's a handy abbreviation, and it reinforces the idea that the advice is of an intelligent nature. 'SMART' in other words!"

But invented acronyms are only the beginning. Remember Johnny Cochran saying to the OJ jury: "If the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit!"

Powerful words. Words to make you stop and think. Words that became the catalyst of the whole trial.

Well, no. They were stupid words. But THEY RHYMED. The huckster looks at his mark with our old favorite attitude, the presumption of idiocy. And an idiot is impressed by a rhyming sentence. A rhyming sentence carries more inherent truth than a non rhyming sentence.

So the charlatan employs plenty of rhyme and alliteration to make his points in the soft-disciplines.

Then there are the lists! The professional bullshitting academic needs to come up with official, authoritative sounding lists. Here are the "Five Dimensions of Personality": Conscientiousness, Emotional Stability, Agreeableness, Extroversion, and I'll be honest I forgot the fifth one. This was from the management theory class. Read those again. These, according to the management professor, are the exhaustive 5 dimensions of personality that are found in every human soul. Yes, agreeableness and extroversion are two of them. And yes, conscientiousness and emotional stability are two more of them.

And this bullshit is presented like it's the pinnacle of human understanding by professors who take it extremely seriously. The 5 dimensions are invoked like Carl Jung himself woke up one day in feverish excitement and shouted "Eureka!" and jotted them down on his nightstand.

How about this one: (and I'm not joking) "The First Law of Human Behavior". Yes, one day the professor offered us the "First Law of Human Behavior". Are you ready to know what it is? This is the first law of human behavior....

"People are different. What one person considers an opportunity, another would consider a threat."

Again, that was the "First Law of Human Behavior". Socrates and St. Thomas Aquinas can finally rest in their graves. Their work.... is complete.

Finally: the inscrutability.

In the hard disciplines, the ones I now look at with envy, there is a premium placed on clarity. A brilliant paper that's completely inscrutable runs the risk of not getting its point across. Theories have to be stated clearly. They must be written with the intention of being easily understood.

By contrast, the soft-discipline academic knows that to keep his paycheck coming, he must deliberately be obscure. He must tailor his writing in a form of scholarly legalese that is intentionally designed to thwart layperson understanding.

Now this isn't a blanket statement meant to apply to every scholar in every case in every soft discipline, but I'll be darned if I don't spot it all the time. In Management Theory, over and over again, we used the word "extrinsic". Now, according to Websters, extrinsic simply means "external". Now I admit, there might be some technical difference between the two words - a difference no bigger than the one between vanilla and french vanilla, but I put to you that I had to write words like "extrinsic" and "valence" dozens of times in my notes not because we needed the specificity of these obscure words, but because our Management Theory needed to take drastic steps to appear more scholarly through a little inscrutability.

And so another semester of this shit begins. Oh well. A recently graduated MBA friend of mine said (before I started the program) "There are useful classes and bullshit classes, and you'll know which are which." Advice I like to abbreviate as TAUCAB-CAYKWAW. Or, colloquially, the "two-cab cakewalk". How right he was.

Friday, January 14, 2005


This post has nothing to do with potpourri. I love potpourri. Put out a bowl of it next to a bowl of Terra brand chips to delight and confuse your friends. No, these are just a few medium sized annoyances that are too big for the little lists and too small for their own post. Enjoy.

Abu Mazen
I am tired of reading the phrase "Mahmoud Abbas, better known as Abu Mazen". Really, for over a year now, reporters still solemnly repeat this phrase like it's pulitzer journalism. Like it's some kind of boast about how well you've cultivated your Palestinian street sources that you can dig up this kind of info. I think it is fair, really, to say that we are now all extremely aware that Mahmoud Abbas is commonly known as Abu Mazen. Please, media, PICK ONE OF THESE NAMES.

The Male Club Outfit
I despise this look. The shiny, tuxedo style shirt, untucked, top two buttons opened (to tantalize?) and the cuffs unbuttoned and flared out. I really, really hope this goes out of style soon. You know how people look back at their 60's or 70's hairdo or outfits with embarassment? Have you ever thought that you were witnessing future-decade fashion embarassment as it was happening? This is one of those times. I also had this hunch with heroin chic and the carefully-cultivated-bedhead look.

The Pathetic Ruse used in Diet Pill Commercials
Have you seen these diet-pill commercials that stress, several times, that this pill is only for the seriously overweight and NOT for the casual dieter. Once again, if you're looking to lose only 5 or 10 pounds, then this pill is simply too potent for your silly little diet. You are NOT the intended user of this pill. This pill is ONLY to be used by dieters who need to lose substantial weight. Casual dieters: go read a magazine or something - we don't specialize in your paltry, 5 or 10 pound needs. No no, this is a private conversation between us, the pill people, and those who are truly, massively fat.

It's official. This commercial holds my intelligence in lower regard than any person, organization, belief system, or entity of any kind, ever, in history. Just the thought that they seriously believed I would be bamboozled at their brick-in-the-face unsubtle reverse psychology routine makes me want to kill them. Kill them dead. They're selling on TV for God's sakes. They accept VISA and Mastercard. Their only goal is to sell as many pills as possible. They would willingly sell their entire stock to anorexics if they could make a buck. That they thought I would be fooled by this, the worst and most clumsy fake-out I have ever seen, is simply the worst insult I have ever endured. Compared to the diet pill sales strategy, the old trick where you act all excited around a 5 year old and tell him we're going to play the exciting "clean the room game" is a nuanced bluff of the highest strategy. The 5 year old's intelligence is being treated with enormous respect compared to my intelligence in this commercial.

Mission Impossible Films
The entire conceit of Mission Impossible, the whole concept - is a team of high tech crimefighters working together to catch crooks. That's the concept. It really can't be whittled down any further. So why are the movies basically James Bond clones? Why are they Tom Cruise flying solo? Other than sharing the music, the title and a few names, there are no similarities whatsoever between the movies and the show. Now I don't mind a Tom Cruise action movie (if it's good), but if you're going to use the name Mission Impossible, the only meaningful information that imparts is that it's going to be about a team of tech-savvy crimefighters. And the movies do not deliver on that. They reject it. Really, this bugs me. And you're telling me they couldn't find any way to use Peter Graves? He's nature's greatest untapped resource. Bring him back!

Sunday, January 09, 2005

College Donations

Do you know how often I get shaken down for cash by all the schools I've ever gone to? College, high school, even grade school. I get letters from grade school several times a year asking for contributions. After I finish my current grad program, yet another school is going to start leveling old-growth trees by the hundreds to send me endless letters asking for cash.

Here's the big question. Let's say I have a charity budget for the year. I don't, but let's say I did. Wouldn't I donate it to cancer research, or to the homeless, or mentally ill, or the red cross, or something worthwhile? Wouldn't I send the money somewhere where it could be put to actual charitable use?

Do you know, do you have any idea how low on my list of charitable priorities is the idea of giving money to a university for, say, a new athletic facility? Do you know how much good shape the world would have to be in before I considered charity for a bloated, wealthy private school that had already milked my family for obscene tuition for years?

I read about these people in Manila, they live on and in these gigantic garbage landfills. They live in garbage, creating little hovels for themselves out of bathtubs and particle board and whatever else they find. They send out their own kids every day to scavenge through the freshest garbage to salvage anything they can that can be traded on the junk market for a couple of cents. Every once in a while a storm blows through and destroys all their homes, but it's hard to tell, because it was all just a pile of garbage anyway. If I had money for charities, the garbage people would be first on my list.

But forget about all that, my high school wants to build a brand new parking structure! Complete with elevator access for the handicapped and elderly! Won't you send a check? Think about all those great childhood memories.

That's really the hook, isn't it? These schools always couple their requests for cash with an appeal to those warm, fuzzy memories. Another tactic is to dole out honorary shit left and right. Want your name on a bench? No problem. Want to join the exclusive ranks of "Friends of the Headmaster", thereby earning a coveted invitation to the annual headmaster's wine and cheese party? You think I'm making that stuff up, but it's true. My grade school assigns you a ranking based on how much you donate. Here are the categories:

Julius Caesar ($25,000 and above) Orsino ($2,500 - $4,999)
Prospero ($15,000 - $24,999) Benedick ($1,000 - $2,499)
Othello ($10,000 - $14,999) Mercutio ($500 - $999)
Oberon ($7,500 - $9,999) Orlando ($100 - $499)
Hotspur ($5,000 - $7,499) Ariel ($1 - $99)

Looking this over, I'd say if I had to donate, I'd give $499. Better to be the mack daddy of all the Orlandos than your basic, run of the mill Mercutio.

And the people who name buildings after themselves. Ooooh I hate that. What kind of ego do you have to have to want a building named after yourself? Who the hell are you? I could see, maybe, if your donations entirely financed a brand new building, the school would give you the honor of selecting the person to name it after. But even then, you wouldn't name it after yourself. If it was a science building, you'd pick your favorite scientist, or something like that.

The only time I could see naming a building after yourself is if you were an established mafia boss looking to appear legitimate in the community. Then you'd want to name the new children's library after yourself. And maybe put your wife on the board.

But I digress. What I was saying was that schools hand out the honorary names and dish out the artificial pomp like it's an old fashioned European sale of a noble title. And I guess it works.

Even if I decided I wanted to make a donation to a school, or toward education, why pick my own schools? Any school that's going to award you the title of Prospero for a donation can't really be doing that badly. I would probably weigh a bunch of different scholarship programs and see which one had the best track record of taking disadvantaged kids and getting them a quality education.

Here is the only charitable gift I am currently prepared to make to all my old schools. I am prepared to make a donation of free envelopes, printer ink, letter-size paper, several dozens of stamps, staples, and an hour of free clerical/administrative labor time. All they have to do is stop sending me regular donation requests, and my gift will gradually accumulate, all by itself, in their offices, over a period of years. I think that's pretty generous.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Commercials and Race

Let's venture out on some thin ice.

I've been annoyed for years at the way race is handled in commercials. I've never said anything - it is a sensitive topic. But what am I so afriad of? I'm not a bigot. Can't well meaning people talk about these things? I say yes.

Why is it that when a commercial shows two people using competing products, and one person is white, and the other is black, the white guy is always using the inferior Brand X and the black guy is always using the good brand? Doesn't matter if it's detergent, a cold remedy, a brake job, anything. No way the white guy ever makes the right choice if his counterpart is a person of color. Not 75% of the time, not 90% of the time, but every time - without exception - my entire life.

Now don't even start formulating a response yet. First I'll state the obvious. Clearly, television has a responsibility to avoid hurtful negative stereotypes. And generally, they do a great job. If there was an episode of say, Mr. Belvedere, where the family was burgled and terrorized by a couple of sadistic black thieves, I'd come right out and say it - that would be irresponsible. If someone cast a Jew as the greedy moneylender or a hispanic as a thieving housemaid... also very bad. TV is generally very careful about stuff like that.

But it IS possible to go too far. Just once I'd like to see the black woman pull her shirt out of the dryer, see that the stain is still there and shake her head with dismay; while on the other side of the screen the white woman pulls out her totally clean shirt, and gives a nod of tremendous satisfaction, as if to say "Oh yeah." Would that be such a shocking taboo?

It's not that I want to see a white woman triumph at the expense of a black woman, it's just, I don't know, commercials portay minorities, black people especially, as these secular saints who are capable of no wrong or error, are savvy, witty and fiercely intelligent, and have impeccable style and taste. This annoys me not because I'm thinking "Hey wait a minute! Black people aren't that smart!" - It annoys be because it's deeply condescending. And it's not even cynical, calculated condescension, it's gutless, spineless condescension. It's the cowardly pandering of some advertiser who knows he needs to use a black person in the commercial lest he be accused of anything, but knows he also can't cast the guy in anything other than the "clever bloke" role, lest he be accused of anything. He's not trying to be socially conscious, he simply is steering down the one route which he knows will protect him from any accusation of wrongdoing. And because of this, the white guy always winds up with the stain on his shirt.

Can you imagine what would happen if you saw this commercial? Two guys (one white, one black) are both up for a big promotion at work. They each have a big presentation in the morning. But oh no! They each have a terrible head cold! The white guy reaches for his trusty NyQuil and knocks back a swig. Ahhhhh. The black guy on the other side of the screen is fumbling with his "generic decongestant". That bathroom doesn't look so tidy either, come to think of it....

Time passes....

The white guy wakes up bright and early, what a great night's sleep! He aces the presentation and the boss shakes his hand. Great job! But look at the other side of the screen... the black guy looks terrible! He didn't get a wink of sleep! No way he can make that presentation. Looks like no promotion this year.

Admit it, that commercial would blow your mind. You'd walk around all day feeling vaguely disconcerted. You'd know there was something really weird about that NyQuil ad, but you wouldn't know what. You wouldn't be able to figure it out.

If that commercial existed, and it never will, it would prompt outrage. People in the race business would be mad, but I don't think they'd know quite what to say. Is the commercial reinforcing the dangerous stereotype that black people simply don't know how to shop for a decongestant? How dare NyQuil not cast the black guy as the one using the preferred cold remedy! What are they trying to say, that blacks don't have a flawless record at treating their colds with effective, name brand expectorants?

You see, it's silly. And yet no white guy has ever "won" the commercial. Sometimes it just gets ridiculous. How about those home security commercials, advertising an alarm system. Have you seen these burglars? They look like silent film era bank robbers: the black turtleneck, the skullcap, the sensible slacks, the two-day stubble, a crowbar in one hand and a valise bag in the other. These are the lengths we're willing to go to make sure our "villain" in the commercial is a white guy.

I think there must be minorities who are equally annoyed with this. Isn't the condescension palpable? Do you ever think "Jeez, we don't always have to be Morgan Freeman in the commercial. Go ahead, get the bad warranty."

See, if the black guys made dumb decisions in commericals with the equivalent frequency of whites, wouldn't that be the REAL sign of progress? The real sign of the tolerant multiracial society? Yes I think so.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

100 Annoyances

81. A 5 way intersection

82. Ghostwritten autobiographies

83. When someone you're sharing food with covers the entire portion with their condiment of choice without first getting your approval.

84. Cutting a piece out of the book jacket (or even just magic markering it) to get rid of the price. Look, it's perfectly obvious that the book was something like $21.95, and I would much rather just have an unmutilated jacket. I think that's reasonable.

85. Teaser Trailers with no actual footage

86. Striking up a conversation at the urinal

87. People who specifically request Captain Morgan

88. Why does the E Network only air Howard Stern shows featuring models or porn stars? Well, yes because people like hot chicks. But Stern is soooo much funnier when he's got a good celebrity guest or a funny topic. Having porn stars promote their websites is just not the best Stern. And yet E cannot bring itself to air any Stern episode that doesn't feature nudity. It's like they've got some bullet-point, ten-words-or-less understanding of what Stern is about. He's about hot chicks. Jesus.

89. "Gentle reader"

90. Selecting The Four Seasons or Mozart's A Little Night Music for that scene in your movie where you need some classical music.

91. Arial. It’s the ass of fonts, yet somehow everywhere you go it pops up as the default font. Why?

92. Saying "in statu quo" instead of status quo. Ooooooh I'm so impressed.

93. When books are written and published about current events and the events in question are still very much in progress. Some recent examples: a book on the 2004 presidential campaign published in August 2004 - a 9/11 retrospective published a month after 9/11 - a book on the Scott Peterson trial published during the trial, etc.

94. Low carb bread?

95. That weird, V-holdish blurry distortion when a computer monitor is on TV.

96. When you spend extra time making absolutely sure that you only took one paper plate, I mean really making sure, and yet you somehow took 3 plates.

97. Station Identification

98. When a line of dialogue is written to interrupt another line of dialogue, and there’s that just-noticeable-pause after the first actor artificially stops in his middle of his sentence and before the second actor actually butts in with the interruption. So it sounds like this:
Scotty: “But Captain! The torpedo tubes are jammed and I can’t possibly fix…”
Kirk: “……Damn it Scotty, there’s no time!”

99. Just ordering water.

100. The agony of deciding whether to pay or ignore the parking lot payment box, even when it seems logically impossible that the lot could really be monitored effectively, and even when the lot didn't use to charge anything and how dare they, and ultimately having to squeeze 3 dollars into a little slat into which 3 dollars cannot be squeezed.