williamallenpepper

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Archive for the tag “McDonalds”

WHAT I LEARNED FROM LABOR DAY

Grasshopper

 

Why, hello, Jiminy Cricket! How are you?

What’s that? You have a story to tell us? Please do, Mr. Cricket!

*Puts on footie pajamas and pops the popcorn.*

 

Okay, here’s the thing. Don’t be tweeting me angry corrections, you entomologists.  I know the bug in the picture isn’t Jiminy Cricket. It’s a grasshopper. A bug. or maybe an insect. I don’t know. One or the other. (Stand down your tweeting thumbs, bug doctors.) Whatever it is, it attacked my vehicle during a gas stop on the way home from my Labor Day three-day weekend travels.

Once I bested the grasshopper in two out of three falls, I went inside. There were people working all over the place. On Labor Day.  Selling gas, mopping the restroom, stocking shelves.

That’s not new, right? We’ve all travelled, or hell, just been out in the world on Labor Day before. People are always working. Earlier in the day, I had lunch at a fast food place. People were working there too. Cops were out stopping speeders on the highway.

Lots of people out working on this holiday. And, here’s the thing, they all seemed really happy. When’s the last time you went to a fast food place and found happy people behind the counter? They were today.

But who exactly is Labor Day for? Have I misjudged the definition of the day? Does “Labor Day” mean a day to do work? I hope not. Mostly what I did is not shave, eat fatty food and drive down the road. Oh, and watched Doctor Who (*ding* obligatory Doctor Who reference.)

I think Labor Day is supposed to be a day off from working. So what were all these people doing?

“You know…” Jiminy Cricket says.

Yeah. I do.

The truth is, Labor Day isn’t a holiday for most laborers. It’s pretty much just a holiday for me, those like me with white-collar jobs and, evidently, a hell of a lot of old, retired people in RVs. (RV’s, really? Gas is like $4.00 a gallon.) If you’re a minimum wage earner or in law enforcement, no three-day weekend for you. Holidays that don’t have their own carols or aren’t tied to some sort of gift giving can be tricky. We forget what they’re really about. Labor Day is one of those. We should take the time on days like Labor Day to appreciate those who do the things – cook our burgers, make sure the gas pumps don’t explode –  that make our lives easier.

Go hug a cop.

*The blog is not authorized to post bail.*

 

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LITTERBUG JITTERBUG

Up there, in the title. Those are two words that shouldn’t be used by anyone born after the Great Depression. (Kids, that’s not the name for the period between Bieber sightings)

Still, when the shoe fits…

*sigh*

Blogging is hard.

I get tired. You know? Sometimes it’s too hard to walk all the way over to the computer and put my words in. It’s so tempting to just drop my letters wherever I feel like it. Just leave some jfiriwofj behind the couch. Maybe a line of d e 3 o 8 & ? 2fdopv down the hallway. It’s just easier.

But I don’t.

I don’t because I don’t want to foul up this little Internet environment for others.

Real-worlders, it seems, aren’t always so considerate.

I was strolling through a McDonald’s parking lot recently on the way back to my car after getting coffee. Some dude in a truck opened his car door and tossed out a crumpled cheeto bag.

The trash can was ten feet away.

I know what you’re thinking.

CHEETOS? Mmmmm. Processed cheese food…

I’m a Dorito man myself.

Never mind the bigger fact that if this dude couldn’t see the trash can ten feet away, he probably shouldn’t be driving.

You might also be thinking the fact that a dude was eating Cheetos either immediately before or immediately after dining at a McDonalds goes a long way toward demonstrating why punching extra holes for more belly room in our belts is an American national pastime.

How many times have you walked through a parking lot and seen small effigy mounds dedicated to overconsumption; little monuments of diapers, Monster energy drink cans, and fast-food bags left behind when their thoughtless owners waddled away to befoul some other region of our tiny planet?

Maybe you wouldn’t think of leaving your trash in a parking lot, but I’ll bet you stuff the lime down into your beer bottle, right?

Spit gum out on the sidewalk?

Wash your hands and leave paper towels on the restroom floor?

Et tu, cheeto guy?

That probably doesn’t mean anything.

I’m still irked though.

THERE ARE WINNERS AND LOSERS AND THE REALLY IMPATIENT

It’s no secret we all have too much going on. Too many hours at work. Too much TV. Too much time spent on lessons, phone apps and whatever else. At the same time, our attention spans have shrunk so…

What were we talking about?

Hey, look. Cookies!

But, it seems to me, there are a few things that deserved to be appreciated in their own time, however long that time is. A good movie. A good book. Cookie dough ice cream. That tingly feeling you get when you stick your finger in an electrical outlet.

And board games.

Remember those? Games you can play as a group and don’t have to plug into anything? Board games are making a comeback of sorts thanks in no small part to Wil Wheaton’s Internet show Tabletop. But it seems to some they are still relics of a bygone, more quaint age: an era when people sat on their porch drinking lemonade for hours; thought nothing of spending time chatting over the backyard fence, savoring the newspaper front to back and drinking excessively while chain smoking and driving without seatbelts.

Okay, maybe not that last one.

I love a good, two-hour game of Monopoly. Always have. Spend all night playing Risk? You bet, dude.

According to the folks at toymaker Hasbro, though, folks are just TOO busy to sit still together as a family and play a game that takes longer that a commercial break between episodes of “Honey Boo Boo”. To that end, they have released a version of Monopoly that takes no longer than thirty minutes to play. It’s one of their new “snack toys” meant to complete with the attention-strapped kids in an age of Facebook and iPad apps.

Read for yourself here.

The most telling quote in the article? “Jonathan Berkowitz, vice president of marketing at Hasbro, said: ‘Parents and children tell us they want a quick in-and-out, frictionless gaming experience’.” Um, “frictionless”? So, families are tired of having to work at a game? Spending all that time together getting them down? Putting in the time to achieve the goal is just too much bother, apparently.

Lame-ass Monopoly (Not an official title – but c’mon, the properties are named after McDonalds and X-Box instead of the traditional street names. Please. ) joins “Scrabble Flash” where you can play a whole game in two minutes, thirty seconds.

I’m as busy as a lot of people, busier than others. But some things are just sacred.

Give me Park Place. Not Coca-Cola way.

SO STEALING SECRETS IS COOL AGAIN?

Much of the news lately ha had a retro feel to it. No, I don’t mean the fever-pitch excitement over M.C. Hammer’s latest album dropping.

Okay, I’m kidding about that. But consider: O.J. is up for parole. McDonalds has a new burger – the quarter pounder WITH BACON! Betty White is cool again.

And then, there’s this. Apparently, stealing state secrets is cool again. Remember during the Cold War how every so often there’d be a story about some FBI agent or government flunky who’d get busted trying to sell our secrets to the Russians? Well, the good old days are back – but with a, I dunno, Robin Hood twist? Count of Monte Cristo? (Never actually read that.) Birdman of Alcatraz?

Army Private Bradley Manning was convicted of giving classified military documents to WikiLeaks. Edward Snowden is sitting in Russia, a man without a country, after similarly leaking classified information. The U.S. government, of course, wants him back so he can be tried and imprisoned.

Pretty typical Cold War stuff. Traitors will not be tolerated.

But here’s the thing.

The government is royally pissed about the leaks, obviously. But the public has a weird, bipolar thing going on. In general, we hate leakers who put our citizens and military at risk, but we LOVE whistleblowers. Especially in the case of Snowden, the public seems to be more angry at the NSA for harvesting our emails than they are Snowden for revealing it.

So here we are as a country talking about national security and espionage and THE RUSSIANS. Very James Bond, this all is. Very old school. We’ve gotten so accustomed, unfortunately, to talking about national issues of violence and terrorism, that as appalling as giving away state secrets may be, being able to talk about that instead is almost a refreshing change of pace.

I don’t know what that means and it feels weird to say.

But not knowing what stuff means and feeling weird is sort of what life is today.

International relations seemed so much easier when we could just stand atop the Berlin Wall and call for its destruction. Now we talk about extradition and whether or not Julian Assange will ever be tried and whether Snowden will go to Nicaragua or Venezuela.

Think I’ll go watch a James Bond movie. Connery, not Craig.

I’M O’SORRY – ST. PATRICK’S DAY EDITION

Build a holiday around something other than religion, presents, or age and this is what you get. All you guys who smirk at Valentine’s Day being a made up holiday crafted by florists and greeting card sellers, consider: you ever end up in jail over your innocent efforts to observe the day?

Okay, don’t answer that. Let’s make with the purging of guilt:

I’m sorry that when you said you wanted a Guinness, I jumped up and down for twenty-three hours on a pogo stick while perched on the fence over the lion exhibit at the zoo during feeding time with a duck on my head and wearing a tutu made of sirloin. On the upside, the duck is fine (he sends his regards) and woohoo! WORLD RECORD, BABY! …sorry, you’re still thirsty though.

I’m sorry that when I met your friend Pat, I couldn’t stop saying, “Hey, there’s St. Patrick!” over and over again until he got fed up and stormed out. But, really, how was I to know that slamming the door so hard would make that huge picture fall off the wall and hit you? That jagged scar is hardly noticeable.

I’m sorry that I suggested celebrating with a costume party. On a related note, I’m sorry that shamrocks are a lot smaller than fig leafs.

I’m sorry that I called your mom a leprechaun. In my defense, she looks a lot like that guy on the Lucky Charms box.

I’m sorry I spent the whole evening asking your sister’s friends if they wanted to “find me pot of gold.”

I’m sorry that when we went to reptile exhibit last weekend, I kept loudly pretending to call Ireland and asking them if they could send St. Patrick to take the snakes BACK. I now realize that after forty-five minutes, sometimes jokes wear thin. Those snakes were creepy though, man.

I’m sorry I snuck into your bedroom closet and dyed all your shirts green. I now realize that practical jokes also require a thorough thinking through before execution.

On a related note, I’m sure your cat’s green fur will grow out with few, if any, ill effects.

I’m sorry that beer vessels don’t come in large sizes.

I’m sorry that pinching someone if they don’t wear green doesn’t also extend to pinching for other offenses: cutting you off in traffic, using a cell phone in a doltish manner, creating and broadcasting reality television.

I’m sorry that back in 2006, “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” wasn’t a more successful TV show, which has nothing to do with St. Patrick’s Day. But I’m sorry about it nonetheless.

I’m sorry there are no St. Patrick’s Day carols. Sitting around my St. Patrick Tree and sipping St. Pat’s Nog and eating shamrock cookies just seem like empty gestures without music.

I’m sorry that when I get a shamrock shake at McDonalds, the counter person doesn’t hand it to me and say, “Top o’ the morning to you!” and do an Irish jig. On the upside, I am happy if the person doesn’t spit in it.

In case you celebrated too…eagerly…I’ll just whisper <Happy St. Patrick’s Day!>

HEY, KID, BE CAREFUL. BROKEN GLASS.

There’s a commercial for BMW running on TV right now featuring, as most car commercials do, a gorgeous vehicle taking hairpin turns down a mountain pass. In the car is a young boy with his arm out the window, feeling the wind rush by. A disclaimer runs across the bottom of the screen warning something to effect of: “Sticking your arm out the window is dangerous. Don’t do it.”

One end of a Hershey candy bar wrapper has the words “Open Here” printed on it.

Back in the early days of “Saturday Night Live”, there was a sketch with Dan Aykroyd as the sleezy CEO of “Mainway Toys”, a company that sold extremely dangerous toys to children: action figures with knives in them, Doggie Dentist, bag o’ spiders, and, also in the bag-o line, “Bag O’ Broken Glass” which was just a big plastic bag of, well, broken glass. When called on the safety issue, Mainway points out the disclaimer on the bag’s label: “Hey, Kid. Be careful. Broken glass.”

We’ve all read warning labels on products that sound to us like Mainway wrote them. McDonald’s coffee is hot. Don’t stick your hand in the power saw. That floor over there? Slippery when wet.

We can laugh. We DO laugh. But the fact is, warnings like this (okay, maybe not Mainway’s) get written by lawyers because some dumbass, somewhere, tried it once. The Hershey’s wrapper thing surely originated with some bizarre tale of events spiralling downward from unwrapping some candy to, I don’t know, leveling an entire city block.

Meanwhile, things we really do need protection from, we ignore. Guns. Fatty food. The more warnings the professionals level at us, the more we push back. Bigger clips for assault rifles. A restaurant in Las Vegas that serves a burger called “The Heart Attack”.

Save your money BMW and Hershey. We know what’s bad for us. We just want to hear it from the Mainway guy.

WHAT’S IN A NAME? MONEY, FRIEND.

Some advertising geniuses a while ago came up with the concept that you should “sell the sizzle, not the steak.” The idea of course, is that to make people buy something, you have to make them crave it. Looking at a slab of meat isn’t what gets the saliva flowing, it’s hearing the sizzle as it cooks. Thank you, Pavlov.

Science note: Pavlov was a scientist who showed that he could get dogs who had been conditioned to equate food with the sound of a bell ringing to salivate just from hearing the bell, even if he didn’t give them any food.

Pavlov was sort of a jerk.

Anyway, the same idea works for marketing. Whatever it is, if you can convince people they need it, they’ll buy whatever piece of crap you’re pushing.

“May I hit you with this bat?”

“No way!”

“Well, then can I offer you an enchanted evening featuring a reenactment of a scene from legendary director Brian DePalma’s  even more awesomely legendary film ‘The Untouchables’?”

“Sure!”

*CLONK!*

“Totally worth it!” <Passes Out>

Anyway, it’s clear that whatever you’re selling has to sound way better than it actually is if you want to make money. A lot of companies have been phoning it in. Consider:

Coca-Cola’s campaign “Have a Coke and a Smile” was okay, I guess. How much more fructose corn syrup in a can would they have sold, however, if the slogan was, “Have a Coke and a Screaming Orgasm”?

McDonalds has long said, “You deserve a break today.” Fine, but wouldn’t it be better to propose, “You deserve your own private island wrapped in a bow with Justin Bieber as your cabana boy”? It’s true eating a Big Mac probably won’t really get you that, but the odds can’t be any better by NOT eating a Big Mac, can they?

Recently, driving on the Interstate, I passed (note, I didn’t “stopped at”) a motel called “The Pleasant Stay Inn”. Sounds okay, doesn’t it? The pleasant stay. Peaceful, unhurried. Fresh flowers. A friendly wave from the staff. The beds probably even have clean sheets. But still pleasant can be boring. Why not take it up a notch? “The Bitchin’ Stay Inn” or “The Rock ‘Till You Drop Inn” or “The Condemned by the Board of Health, But Still Partying, Inn”.

My father always said, “Never stay at a motel called ‘Lakeview’ because there won’t be a lake anywhere near it.” Good advice, I suppose, but I think it kind of misses the point. The Lakeview Motel doesn’t have to sell you a lake or a view to make money. It just has to make you think whatever view they DO have is something you can’t live without.  Perhaps call it “Lake of Golden Egg Laying Unicorns View Motel” or “Lake That Time Forgot, But These Hot Nudist Cheerleaders Didn’t, View”.

No need to thank me, business owners. Checks made out to me will do fine.

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