Unfortunate CD Covers Insult My Intelligence

I’m feeling inspired today by a couple of recent posts about terrible CD covers over at the muscleheaded blog.

I’d like to add a pet peeve of my own to this: the gratuitous use of pentagrams for music that isn’t satanic.  (That’s satanic, not santaic.  Christmas is over.)  It makes the music harder to find because American sellers fear it and, once it is found, buyers like me experience profound difficulty when explaining the purchase to unenthusiastic friends and family.   Since people are inherently superficial, many would prefer to judge a book or CD by its cover… especially when it comes to anything that might influence their soul’s eternal resting place.  Picky, picky, picky.

I’m done pontificating, so here’s the first CD cover:

Die Prophezeiung

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This CD is about as Satanic as Dante’s Inferno.  However, you can’t really get anything by this musical group in the U.S.  I bought my copies overseas.  And when I wanted to obtain a copy of something that wasn’t even available used, I couldn’t get one despite the fact that Amazon sells MP3 copies on its foreign websites.  I contacted Amazon about it and they apologized for the “inconvenience” and cited vague copyright issues.  I suppose Universal Records can’t afford to be associated with a pentagram in the U.S. market.  (Gratuitous advertisement: I’ve written about this issue before.)

And then there’s “Sex Sex Sex” by JBO, which I also enjoy.

3s

(Tip: the German words for six and sex are pronounced even more similarly than the English words.)

JBO is the closest thing Germany has to Weird Al Yankovic, and who doesn’t love Weird Al, or sex and Satanism rolled into one CD cover?    That surely must make you curious about the accompanying concert tour…

Lives

I don’t own this CD.  I prefer my sexual content to be perfected with all sorts of technological advances.  Anything that’s relatively “unplugged” sounds too much like celibacy.

But seriously… there’s barely any sex in the music.  And so I offer you a song from one of JBO’s later CD’s because it’s in English.  My more theologically oriented readers may want to skip the video but, then again, anyone who made it through the CD covers isn’t too likely to be offended.  I think…

Book Spines Insult My Intelligence

Ah, books!

Publishers put considerable effort into a book’s front cover.  If you’re shopping online, the cover becomes the image that gives you a first impression, the image that influences whether you purchase the literary product, the image that scares you away.  It shapes your expectations about what’s inside and it gives you a lifetime of aesthetic pleasure as it sits in prominent display on your bookshelf for years after you spend the relatively few hours reading it.

Not quite.

Once the book goes on your shelf, the spine becomes the only visible part.  If you’re in a library or one of the ever-declining number of brick-and-mortar bookstores, it’s also the spine that first announces and advertises a book’s existence and contents.  (Yeah, I know.  A few books are displayed face-up on tables.  However, those titles tend towards “The Philosophical Meditations of Justin Bieber” and similar drivel.)  And it’s the spine that announces your intelligence to all guests, unless of course you only bought the books to look smart.  In that case, the spines announce your good taste until some incredulous fiend asks you about them.

In my case, the book spines broadcast my superior intelligence and I’d like to share some details with you.

books

This is my image of my books that display my intelligence for all to see.

As you can see, the spines range from purely functional to highly decorative to advertorial to none of the above.  Derek Walcott’s publisher (you can’t miss its presence on the spine) decided to go with dull green and huge lettering for its spine.  You can’t miss that spine on a shelf and you’ll never forget who published it, if you can figure out whether Omeros or Noonday is the publisher.  “Derek Walcott” is obviously the title, the same way Mr. Copperfield wrote a book called “Charles Dickens.”

Cover of "Omeros"

Oh, this clears things up.

Penguin Classics went in the opposite direction on its spine for “Monkey.”  We get tiny print for all text and a small picture for the publisher’s logo.  You could easily miss this title on the shelf, but I guess they decided that their “classics” line needed to look more distinguished and illegible to the low-eyesight crowd than “Year of the Hare,” which features a cute little bunny.  For a book called “Monkey,” how hard would it have been to make that spine stand out like “Hare” does?  Monkeys are cute too, especially wise playful monkeys like the book’s protagonist.  Ironically, the front cover of “Monkey” features the monkey while the hare is reduced to a minor detail on its front cover.  I don’t get it.  Why pull on people’s animal-loving heartstrings on the spine or cover, but not both?  Methinks those publishing executives need to improve their marketing techniques.

“My Name is Red,” subject of a recent post, goes even further with the ornamentation while giving viewers a title they don’t have to tilt their heads to read.  Considering the book’s contents, the pictorial element couldn’t be avoided and my shelf is happy to house a work of art.  I wish “Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out” had similarly managed to recapture the interesting graphic design from its front cover.

Cover of "Life and Death are Wearing Me O...

Cover via Amazon

Instead, the spine gives us blah and undersize typeface that doesn’t even fit.  So yeah, that was the publisher’s error, not an issue with my cropping… but thank you for assuming I wasn’t at fault.  Quit snickering.

And then there’s the Borges.  Nice and colorful like a neon sign.  And since the publisher and/or translator decided not to render the book’s title in English, having it on my shelf makes me look like I know Spanish.  Excellent!  I support anything that inflates the specter of superior intelligence I can wave over others.

That means the boring and functional “Blind Owl” spine gets lost in the crowd.  That’s a shame because the novel bursts with imagery.  On the other hand, such a narrow book spine might not display the cover’s ornamental font effectively.

The Blind Owl

The Blind Owl (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With that font on the spine, I’d expect it to be as legible as “The” and “and” on “The Master and Margarita.”  That would be unfortunate because, in the case of “The Master and Margarita,” the spine looks like it’s for a bartender’s guide to excellence in Mexican beverages.

That said, I think it’s time for me to go master a margarita.  Stay thirsty for knowledge, my friends.

Space Colonization Insults My Intelligence

S-C21

Become the citizen of the first global state of the universe!  Take a look at our promotional video and be swept away to faraway realms:

Of course, we’re required to tell you that space travel is a little more complicated than getting from one place to another.  We sometimes have to deal with a couple of minor disturbances:

Asteroids screenshot

Our rocket is the triangle-looking thing.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Despite such brief inconveniences, nothing more explosive can generally be expected to happen.

S-C2

Our rockets are far too monochromatic for such an occurrence to be predicted.

Our rockets are also equipped with additional legally mandated safety measures and cautionary guidance that you will find conveniently printed on the bottom of your seat cushion.  Here’s one of the many helpful hints you’ll discover:

S-C23

But then again, nothing you breathe on our rockets will even remotely compare to the unidentified flying odors (UFO’s) you inhale every day on earth.

Factory Smoke

Will you really miss earth?  (Photo credit: Miroslav Petrasko (hdrshooter.com))

You see, governments want you to believe that UFO’s don’t exist.  We want you to understand the truth because the truth will set you free.  But freedom is never free.  Our new global state of the universe threatens earthly regimes; you must not let them prevent you from exercising your right to assert your citizenship in any way you want.

Don’t just be a citizen.  Be THE citizen.

S-C24

It will be worth your money.  All you have to do is believe.

Bugs Insult My Intelligence

English: High detail closeup of a cockroach.

I’m sure you know what this is already.  I try to avoid them.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Who likes cockroaches?

If you follow my blog, you may remember that I nabbed a free 2-week trial of WordPress’ custom design upgrade on Black Friday.

I promise to comment in my usual cheerful, positive fashion.

I created a new design for this blog with a lot of help in the WordPress forums and a little coloring advice on the sidebar from kokkieh.  The WordPress employee was great and the volunteer helper usually was too.  (The volunteer gave me one incomplete piece of information early on that had huge ramifications down the line, but it’s something I could have and probably should have double-checked on my own.)

So who likes bugs?

La cucaracha!  La cucaracha!

As you can see, the new design is up.  And since I finished Christmas shopping below budget, I can funnel the remaining cash into paying to keep this design.

I will say, though, that I got incredibly lucky on this.  WordPress launched a few upgrades shortly after the trial period started and this caused a parade of bloggers to have problems with their display and their ability to upload and attach media.  I suppose someone at WordPress forgot the first rule of real estate: one should exterminate most, if not all, of the bugs before one hosts an open house.

And in the spirit of exterminating bugs, I’d like to invite my readers to comment on anything they especially like or dislike about the new design.  My eyesight is good, so I hope I didn’t create any readability issues for those of you with vision problems.  If I did, please let me know.

English: An oriental cockroach (female Blatta ...

Some bugs are big.  Some are little.  Most get on people’s nerves.   (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Technology Insults My Intelligence

With incandescent light bulbs having been eliminated (controversially) in the U.S. in favor of fluorescent bulbs, I’d like to remind people of a little history.  This photo was taken at the Tower of London:

An old source of light.

An old source of light.

Defenders of incandescent bulbs proclaim the “natural light” they give off.  Compared to these candles, incandescent bulbs aren’t so natural.

Defenders of fluorescent bulbs proclaim their environmental friendliness.  Well, these candles use even less electricity and presumably were produced locally without the use of factories that pollute the surrounding countryside.

In conclusion, both sides of today’s debate are full of crap.

Drumming Up Business Insults My Intelligence

man-o-lantern

(Photo credit: j l t)

I would like to take a moment to inform you that funerals suck, although not as much as dying, I suppose.

There was a death this week caused by a massive heart attack.  The whole thing reminded me a of a catalog I had recently received in the mail for some reason.  I don’t remember the company’s name but it specialized in products for larger-than-average people.  I only saw the cover and it featured some products that could be useful.  There was the plus-size clothing (a necessity for overweight people who don’t want to walk around naked), oversized chairs with extra weight capacity, and a triple-basket deep fryer.

Yeah, an oversized deep fryer for fat people.  Normally I’d gripe about the stereotyping but I think I’d rather nail the company for trying to drum up business.  If all those overweight people buy the deep fryer, they’re going to need to buy additional oversized products.  If they buy the more sensible vegetable steamer (which wasn’t advertised on the cover and probably wasn’t in the catalog), the company can lose some customers.

Fortunately, I think vegetable steamers sell better these days than triple-basket deep fryers.  The people buying the deep fryers probably don’t need vegetables because they are vegetables, or will become vegetables (or vegetable food) soon enough.

Inappropriate Sales Pitches Insult My Intelligence

Yellow Sphere, see

This picture is unrelated to this blog post, but I needed a picture.  I hope you enjoy it.   (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Looking for a job is so much fun…

I contacted a nonprofit job placement agency today that could be expected to specialize in My Professional Field.  I had a couple of very specific questions to ask and the response was a little lacking.  My thoughts on the matter are much more interesting than anything they wrote back to me:

1- You’re telling me that you never catch wind of anything in my field?  Did you read anything I wrote to you?

2- Oh, I see.  You want to sell me your services.  If you had read what I wrote you, you might have deduced that I have already obtained said services elsewhere for free.  I’ll give you a pass on this one because I didn’t quite spell it out slowly and simply so you could understand.

3- I can forgive #’s 1 and 2 because all funds spent on your services are going to a cause I might donate to if I were employed.  I remember a must-read article at PBS that talked about some horrible things LinkedIn and other job boards are doing to the unemployed.  Compared to them, you’re a peach.

4- I responded to you anyway because I do need a job, but I didn’t buy any services.  I doubt you’ll write back unless my reply caused you to realize that you totally botched your original message.

5- I wish I could list “dealing with idiots” as a skill on my resume.  After so much job hunting, I’ve certainly earned it.

Paying Full Price Insults My Intelligence

Models in a mall

(Photo credit: Toban B.)

Although I am unemployed, I still have to wear clothes.  (Trust me, that’s not negotiable around here.)  That means I have to own clothes and I can’t own clothes unless I buy them.

I’m not a big fan of Wal-Mart and similar stores because the merchandise just doesn’t last very long.  However, I have a fairly strict budget.  And in spite of this, I don’t have to walk around naked.   So I’d like to share an easy tip with all of you.

First rule of shopping on a budget: don’t go to the advertised sales.  Advertised sales are designed to get customers in the door to view a very limited number of reduced price items in hopes that other (more expensive) merchandise will also be purchased.  You should also know that some clothing manufacturers prohibit stores from advertising their products below a certain price point.  It tarnishes the brand’s image if everyone knows you can get Armani for ten bucks.

Instead, stop in occasionally when there’s no official sale going on.  Stores still have to get rid of unsold merchandise and they do it under the radar when there’s no publicized “special event.”  After all, stores are allowed to sell products below the agreed-upon minimum if a customer has the product already in hand to see a physical price tag.

This, incidentally, is why Amazon doesn’t list the prices for some items until you click on the product’s page.  Viewing a list is like browsing the racks and clicking a product is equivalent to looking at something more closely.

The only downside to shopping like this is that a lot of the super-clearance stuff looks really tacky on the rack.  About half of it will look good if you take a moment to try it on.  The other half was designed by clowns, and probably for clowns as well.

But if you were Bozo, you would have gone to the advertised sale instead.

Dyes Insult My Intelligence

I am waiting for someone to invent radioactive-colored toilet paper.  The dyes and perfumes they put in it will probably give people cancer, so why not have some truth in advertising?

TPGAnd yes, I recycled that toilet paper image from a recent post.  It just goes to show that anything can be reused if you look hard enough for a way to do it.  And strangely, this green color is  less creepy than some of the designs they’re already selling…

Small Print Insults My Intelligence

We’ve all seen advertisements that incorporate differently sized text to make a product or sale look more desirable.  Normally, the resulting deception doesn’t stretch credibility.  For example:

Sale on Sunday!

Everything in the store

up to

50% off!

I’m not sure how many people realize that “up to 50% off”  can mean “one item for 50% off and a lot of stuff for 10% off.”  Since businesses keep pulling this stunt, it must be duping people.  After all, sufficient reading comprehension skills have become rarer and rarer.

But I digress.  Here’s a variation of small print marketing I found recently:

batt

In case you can’t decipher the whole thing, the full guarantee reads as “guaranteed for 10 years in storage.”  You probably wouldn’t notice the “for” and “in storage” if you saw this packaging in person, either.

If you believe that a battery can be used for ten years, you deserve to be fooled by this.  However, if North Korea is preparing to fire nuclear missiles at the world’s battery factories, you might need to store this product for up to a decade.

As you can tell, Duracell is looking out for the customers’ best interest.

Cheap Materials Insult My Intelligence

Whenever I leave the house, I like to wear pants.  That means my belt is my companion, constantly protecting me and the people around me from unpleasant situations.  In the old days, which weren’t even 15 years ago, you could buy a sturdy braided leather belt made of real leather.  These belts were constructed of a single piece of material and they were thick, so you could wear them every day for years.  In contrast, here’s a nearly departed companion:

Belt

This belt, like most others sold today, was made of much thinner strips of “leather” glued to a center piece of unknown material.  It only looked braided.  The strips of leather quickly started peeling off and pretty soon the belt will break in two.  You can see that the top half has already torn.

Incidentally, this was not an inexpensive belt.

The Kia Warranty Insults My Intelligence

Korean-spec Kia Soul photographed in Wheaton, ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’ve all seen the Kia commercials.  Except for the ones that inspire an interest in oversized rodents, they make a big deal of Kia’s ten-year warranty.  Since I needed a post topic for today, I thought to myself “hey, they sell this warranty so hard that it must contain something that insults my intelligence.”

Little did I know what I would find.

(A little history:  Kia instituted the lengthy warranty because they’d had a reputation for selling notoriously unreliable cars made from cheap materials.  The warranty was supposed to inspire confidence in the product; judging from Kia’s sales figures, it worked.)

For purposes of this post, I am using the 2014 warranty.  It can be found here.  I immediately noticed in the table of contents that the warranty spans the length of 40 pages.  That struck me as excessive, but I visited Nissan’s website for purposes of comparison.  Nissan’s warranty equaled the length of Kia’s.  Nevertheless, you do wonder why the automakers have such bloated warranties.

I never studied law, so I can’t tell you how much of this extra legalese is wise or necessary.  As a practical matter, it probably keeps most people from reading any part of the warranties until it’s too late.  (Could that be the purpose?)

If they wanted to, Kia’s lawyers could easily bury something nefarious in there that would transform the warranty into nothing more than an empty marketing gimmick.  Ladies and gentlemen, I believe I have found that something.  I bring to you a couple of things the warranty explicitly does not cover:

“The choices made in designing your vehicle, including the materials chosen for parts and components.

Note: A material is not defective or underperforming under your warranty because a better, stronger, more durable or more suitable material could have been used.”

(pg. 10)

Am I to understand that they will not replace something if it breaks because it was made cheaply?  If so, here’s the takeaway:

1- Kia still deserves its reputation for selling cars made from cheap materials.  (I’ll let Consumer Reports pass judgment on the reliability part.)

2- Kia’s warranty offers less protection than a shredded condom since their product’s biggest shortcoming isn’t covered.

3- The advertisements unintentionally provide an accurate description.  Problem is, the oversized rodents reside in the legal department and they lack that unmistakable cuteness.  They do have their own song and dance, though.