Popular Businesses Insult My Intelligence

Beware
Of businesses.

(I could end my poem here and it wouldn’t seem incomplete, right?)

I think this guy has interviewed me a few times.  (Photo Credit: J.J.)

I think this guy has interviewed me a few times. (Photo Credit: J.J.)

Ahem…

Beware
of businesses
that everyone loves,
that everyone admires,
that everyone dreams of working for.

Two million applicants per job vacancy.
One million
nine hundred ninety nine thousand
reasons
they don’t have to
behave…
ethically.

HR can be
catastrophic.
Then comes the
job:
Long hours,
low pay,
no respect,
weak benefits.

You know the drill.

But if the office
has
a swimming pool,
pool table,
nifty decorations,
and free food…

No one will notice the shit?

Sadly…

Until the shit hits
their fan
and their replacements
show up and
eat
the free food.

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Convenient Perspectives Insult My Intelligence

Have you ever looked at those glossy tourist brochures promising you bright and colorful adventures that look like this?

Prague cropped

Oooooh, pretty!

Of course you have because that’s what’s best for business.  However, you inevitably arrive at your destination and discover something a little different…

Cheerful, isn't it?

Cheerful, isn’t it?

I took this photo in Prague, which is a beautiful city in a soot-covered sort of way.  It still looks a little run down in places because of its time under communism and a lot of the sights haven’t been scrubbed clean… or so it seems.

Moral of the story: when planning a vacation, make sure your perspective matches that of the travel agency.  Or better yet, do your own research.  Your sleep deprived spouse and children will thank you while you’re all cooped up together in that tiny hotel room with no escape from each other.

Uncomfortable Seating Insults My Intelligence

As we all know, restaurants and tourist attractions make their money by shuffling the maximum number of people through the premises while extracting money from them.  Profits are tied to the number of paying visitors.

In most places, you’ll find basic wood stools or other obviously uncomfortable accommodations, but some destinations try to hide the seating to prevent people from stopping.  For instance, check out this arrangement at Gaudi’s Park Guell in Barcelona:

Lantern RoadDo you see anywhere to rest your tired feet after walking along that long and winding road?  Look closer:

Lantern RoadGaudi was a master, knowing full well that hiding the seats between the giant lanterns would discourage anyone from sitting on them.  And they look so much more comfortable than the standard cheap bench.

I’m sure your butt is just itching to try it out.

Of course, there’s another cause for that itch.  I like to call it subliminal anti-marketing.  What enters your mind when you look at this?

Lantern RoadWhy yes, there’s a cactus sprouting from the top of that lantern.  I sure hope those needles didn’t blow onto the benches.  If you didn’t already have hemorrhoids, a few needles might give you a good bout of them.

Moral of the story: The mark of true artists resides in their ability to incorporate profit-making motives into the smallest details of their work.

Traditional Meditation Techniques Insult My Intelligence

As my regular readers already know, I’ve been unemployed for a while.  Although the president recently attempted to sway employers to not discriminate against the long-term unemployed, I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands and start my own business.  Since everyone seems so stressed about life concerns that pale in comparison to my own, I have developed my own line of new-age meditations.  I have mastered the art of zen stoicism and I want you all to share my good mental health, if not necessarily my consumer acumen.

Existing products don’t fulfill the promises they make to spiritual acolytes.  Just look at this guy:

Contemplation (Photo Credit: Cheri Lucas Rowlands)

Contemplation.   In an attempt to drum up business, I decided to raise the photographer’s blood pressure by cropping today’s images beyond recognition.  (Photo Credit: Cheri Lucas Rowlands)

Some mental health gurus would make you expend significant amounts of money to find a deserted molehill-sized mountain where you can stick your butt out and stress about all the money you spent to reach the mountain.  Since money had probably caused your stress, I doubt this helps… especially since your financial irresponsibility will surely inspire your spouse (a.k.a. your other major source of stress) to rip your head off once you arrive home.

That can’t be rejuvenating.

Similarly, this guy has fallen for another marketing scam that will not improve his life:

Relaxation (Photo credit: Cheri Lucas Rowlands)

Relaxation (Photo credit: Cheri Lucas Rowlands)

I’m sure he felt quite relaxed, closing his eyes and contemplating the universe, just as he drifted off to sleep, soon to be submerged in eternal sleep under the soothing ripples of water.

But at least he’ll experience less stress.

And traditional meditation techniques always assume that an individual will be dumb enough to pursue one of these alternate venues for something that can be done at home.

Well, I suppose that depends on the loudness of your cohabitants…

Nevertheless, better places exist for relieving your psychological strains without noisy interruptions.  Here’s one possibility:

from CLR3

Emptiness (Photo credit: Cheri Lucas Rowlands)

Because of the real estate meltdown a few years ago, you should have no difficulty finding an abandoned building in a newly deserted part of town.  Just find where a window used to be and climb on in.  It may require a little exercise on your part but, then again, exercise relieves stress.

So thank me.

Anyway, now that you have discovered a cost-effective meditation location, you must station your body there without hesitation.

Lie down.  Don’t worry about all the dirt on the floor.  You can’t expect someone to vacuum a foreclosed property.  Besides which, the dirt will bring you closer to nature’s eternal aspect.  Especially if it’s asbestos…

Now close your eyes and let my calming words penetrate the inner reaches of your being:

Breathe in.  Cough.  Breathe out.

Relax your feet, your legs, your arms, your hands, your neck, your shoulders, your bladder.

The world is your oyster.  Smell the oyster. Feel the wetness, the sand, the shell.

Be the shell.  Fill your shell.  You are the center of your shell.

Don’t clam up.  Be the oyster.  Relax your shell.  Let the plankton in.  Let the algae in.  Let the amphibious roaches in.  Be nourished.  Be loved.

Rest your mind, little oyster.  The fisherman will not come here.  He cannot find you here.  You are at peace here.  Exhale.  Let the roach exit your mouth.  He isn’t healthy.

The reaper won’t find you here.  The seasons don’t fear the reaper.  Nor do the wind, the sun, and the rain.  You can be like they are.  Don’t fear the reaper.

Don’t fear your life.  You are the oyster.  A living oyster.  Do not fry.  Stay cool.  Stay slimy.  Stay in your shell.  Your shell is safe and comfortable.  Be comfortable.  Be free from breadcrumbs.

Come out of your shell.  A virtual ocean surrounds you.  You are more powerful than the ocean.  Splash.  Make waves.  Feel the waves wave back.

Be the waves.  Flow with the wind.  The waves came from you, your bladder, your soul.

Your soul is the center of your universe.  Feel the orbit of the cosmos.  Inhale.  Exhale.  And breathe.

Feel the cool air enter your lungs.  Don’t worry about the gnats.  Don’t worry about anything.  The world is your oyster.  You are the oyster.  Your stress is your cloister.  And you are the nun.

You have a habit.  A bad habit.  A black habit.  Release your habit.  Release your mind, your bladder, your soul.  You can be happy.  You can frolic on the beach.  Feel the waves.  Hear the waves.  Smell the waves.  Be the waves.  And release the holy note of mystical revelation.

Behold the world.  The world is your oyster.  Eat the oyster.  Feel the oyster massage your tongue, your throat, your stomach.  Feel its illuminating power.  The world is your oyster and the oyster is in you.  The oyster is you.

Engage.  Disengage.  Feel the mountain.  Feel the rocky mountain.  You are the rocky mountain oyster.  You create the waves.  You are the bringer of life.  Feel your life, your soul, your scrotum.  Be at one with nature, the waves, the sand, the oysters.

You become a transparent eyeball.  You are nothing.  You see all.  The currents of the Universal Being circulate through you.  You are part or particle of God.

You are no longer the oyster.  Shed your shell.  You are no longer the rocky mountain oyster.  Shed your skin.  You are no longer the maker of waves.  Shed your soul.

Awaken renewed and refreshed.

Although you need not pay for travel to pursue this spectacular new stress reduction method, you’ll probably need to invest in some strong laundry detergent.  Despite that, I can proudly tell you that my “Seafaring Meditations” will be released on iTunes relatively soon.  My calming voice will restore your life’s meaning, the meaning it had before you got all caught up in trivialities like the Super Bowl.

And this, my friends, is my new business.  What do you think?

New Video Games Insult My Intelligence

Growing up, I spent tons of time in front of video games.  Now that I’m grown and unemployed, I wish I could still find some games of the type I used to love.

These are the old-school RPG’s.  Since many of you will only be familiar with the newer model, here’s a glimpse of the past:

That video highlights what used to be possible in a video game.  At the start, you could choose the job type (magician, warrior, etc.) of each character and all sorts of combinations were possible.  That meant you could play the game repeatedly and you’d always experience something new because you’d need a new strategy for the group you had selected.  The four white wizards in the video were known as the most challenging combination possible in the original Final Fantasy game; a lot of imagination went into devising the method of winning portrayed in the video.  (That was the game’s final battle, which is why the video’s ending is so surprising.)

In case you don’t remember what imagination is, look it up in the dictionary.   We don’t breed much of it these days.

And since RPG’s have always taken notoriously long to complete, the video game companies obviously saw a losing proposition.  You can’t have customers being happy with your product for too long or else they won’t need to buy anything new.  (I wonder if this is why cars break down so often…)  So the companies added more intricate storylines and, eventually, movies to the games.  Once you add this, the characters must always be the type that is portrayed.  Player choice becomes impossible unless the game companies start programming the myriad variations in stories and videos to accommodate a player’s options.

That’s going to happen, right?

And there died the ability to replay an RPG once you’ve completed it once.  Evil marketing genius, I say.

In fact, new games arguably revolve around around the movies and storyline instead of gameplay itself.  I liked the old-school RPG’s because I didn’t have to fumble with the controller and struggle with my less-than-stellar reflexes.  And then these games were unceremoniously transformed into first-person battle simulators that bore no resemblance to the original genre.  And now they’re becoming interactive movies that require neither reflexes nor anything else but the willingness to shell out large sums of money. (Well, I suppose they also require the ability to gaze into a screen for long periods of time.)  If I want a movie, I’ll buy a DVD or join Netflix and spend a lot less for it.

Nevertheless, the game companies get away with calling these offerings RPG’s.  In some cases (Final Fantasy, anyone?), game mechanics became unrecognizable in new releases even though the game title presents the new product as an installment in the longstanding series.

Just put a crappier car under the same nameplate and idiots will flock to the new vehicle, ignoring all evidence that they’re being sold nothing more than a name.  This isn’t the understandable evolution of a product.  Instead, it borders on bait-and-switch.

Granted, I don’t miss the hours and hours I used to spend repeatedly battling small monsters so I could build up my characters’ skills enough to progress in a game.  Nevertheless, it’s not too hard to program a game with more major tasks that are separated by smaller gaps in how far your characters have developed.

Oh, wait.  It is too hard.  Those huge gaps ensured that programmers didn’t have to design larger world maps and more enemies to fight and longer stories.

And there’s the irony.  Expanding the storytelling aspect decreases the quantity of story the programmers must devise.  A 15-minute movie clip often progresses a story less than a few brief shots of text, but the movie clip looks good and that’s all that matters with games.  Besides which, it takes fewer movie clips to make a “legitimately” long game.

Or perhaps I should say a legitimately long “game.”

Mortuaries Insult My Intelligence

Slide1I’m standing here at Deddinboxtin & Co. Funeral Services Inc. headquarters and have the good fortune to chat with this happy looking man, Mr. Deddinboxtin himself.  Face powdered white like an old-time theater ghost and black hair slicked back like a guy who has a bunch of perfumed girls lined up for the evening, he has kindly agreed to show me around the place.

His voice, it rumbles like a train crushing a poor little squirrel, thunderous in spite of the havoc it creates under its nose.  “We got us here some great opportunities mister.  What sorta receptacle can I pleasure ya with today?”

“Mr. Deddinboxtin, I’d like…”

“A casket I suppose.  We have lovely wood grain veneer coffins with shiny red satin lining and a pillow soft as snow for your loved one to feel cozy all eternity or however long she stays dead.  You can sell us the pillow back after the viewing if yer cheap that way, we don’t mind but yer loved one’ll haunt ya ’til the cows start singin’ Dixie.  Casket’s rated to last forever or ’til the worms get in and let those like totally gonzo embalmin’ fluids seep out and kill the water supply.  Best you buy the whole damn package… pillow, casket, sealant, and our extra special memorial keepsake ornament you can keep on yer Christmas tree every year to remember this special time in yer life.”

“A Christmas ornament?  I don’t think…”

“It’s green and red and has a picture of yer beloved’s face on the front surrounded by holly and we can get a mistletoe fer it if ya wanna keep the romance goin’ if ya know what I mean.  It’s silver veneer over a plaster interior and it’ll stay with ya the rest of yer life unless it falls apart like those cheap plastic ornaments we sold last year.”

“I’m curious.  What made you decide to become a mortician?”

“Easy schmeezy.  I get to help peeps through the toughest part of their lives and they always find everlastin’ joy.  Take a look at this here memorial flower arrangement.  It’s only $1,999.99 and comes with all the roses yer beloved could ever dream of, unless ya want the deluxe bouquet with these rockin’ neon lights.  It’s a steal at only five hundred more.  She’ll know how much ya love her when she looks down from Heaven I hope and sees the lovin’ embrace yer givin’ her in the grave.  Them ladies gotta have them some flowers.  Ya want one arrangement or two?”

“What, pray tell…”

“Prayers, oh yeah, I about forgot the minister.  We keep a minister on staff and he’s the greatest thing you’ll ever see.  Dresses all in black to mark the occasion and he’s even got his own set of holy books.  Wrote ’em himself so we can say they’re good for any religion or atheists.  Them there atheists need a minister too and I’m here to sell him to ’em.  Oh, and you.  Should I mark ya down for the fifteen or thirty minute sermon?”

“But Mr. Deddinboxtin, no one died.”

“Oh, that’s too bad.”