Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Revisiting a Keeper: Classmates.com - Fear the Mullet

Jon Reed notes: After I posted this Onion piece mocking Classmates.com to my Facebook profile, I decided to bring out this Classmates.com rant from my older "rantblog" archives. Originally posted on September 27, 2006, if I'd known how bad Classmates.com was going to be hammered by Facebook, I probably wouldn't have bothered with this one.

The most idiotic ad campaign on the web? Classmates.com. Preying on the not-so-nice reality that most of us would gladly trade our current lives for a letterman's jacket and a motorbike, the classmates.com marketing play is all about sentiment...("She married who?") Classmates.com wouldn't even exist if people didn't have an underlying disgust with their water cooler lives and the lumps on the couch they married. But all those folks in those adorable black and whites have turned into lumps too. Soon we'll all be that way unless we get off the couch and do something. Logging our out-of-shape asses onto the Internet and paying someone to help us stalk someone we once projected our adolescent fantasies onto isn't going to get it done.

I'm actually a big fan of high school reunions. Every single reunion I have attended has changed my life in some way. But the idea that we need a third party corporation to help us find our classmates is absurd. Google does a lot of it for free, and a private investigator can lend a hand with the rest. The biggest problem with tracking down old friends is that by and large, the ones you've lost touch with are the ones you're supposed to lose touch with. That kind of drift is natural - fighting it just leads to awkward "he's changed" encounters. The thing is, whenever you go to a real-deal reunion, what you find is always surprising. The people you were closest with back in the day aren't necessarily the ones you "click" with now.

I always leave a reunion with new friends I didn't even know in high school. But classmates.com isn't about meeting new people - it's all nostalgia marketing: find the one that got away! Let me save you the trouble: you don't want the one that got away. Trust me, they have settled into a life more dreary than you ever wanted to know. And if for some reason they are doing great, it's because they are doing GREAT - married, kids, good job, nice pets. So go ahead, log onto classmates.com, put on some Dan Fogelberg, grab that old stake, and drive it further into your heart. The past is powerful stuff; we should engage it on our own terms, on our own time. Classmates.com is a clever business, but I'd bet my mullet that it's broken a lot more hearts than it's helped.

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Friday, April 30, 2010

My blog has moved because Blogger blows

Yes, my blog has moved - see the last post for info on updating the RSS feed and URL.

Blogger basically decided that FTP hosting was no longer worth their time - in large part in my opinion because they wanted the traffic from those posts on their site. Unlike Wordpress, Blogger no longer offers a hosted version that can sit on a subdirectory.

Aside from the RSS and URL change, this doesn't affect you the loyal reader at all - you'll get the same rants or missives from me as you always did. It does affect me, mostly because I never wanted a blog with a blogspot.com URL address. But for now I'll be living with this option, till something more interesting presents itself.

Thanks for staying with me.

This blog has moved

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Revisiting a Keeper: "Ask Your Doctor if Your Pharmaceutical Company is Right for You"

Jon Reed notes: to commemorate the latest health care debate flareup, here's a slightly edited keeper from my older "rantblog" archives.

Ask Your Doctor if Your Pharmaceutical Company is Right For You

Is your life all it could be? Are you sleeping only seven and a half hours when you'd love to make eight? Are you a man with a "weak stream" that has to piss more often than you'd like?

How would you like to take care of these little problems in exchange for unknown long term consequences and a few slightly inconvenient side effects like delirium, nausea, and mild diarrhea?

If that sounds good, all you have to do is follow these helpful instructions: the next time your doctor invites you over for iced tea on the veranda, the two of you can casually review the various drugs available that might allow you to alleviate the nagging angst of modern life.

It's the most common line in commercials today: "Ask Your Doctor if 'Wonderpill' is Right for You." Is there anything more infuriating than this casual assumption - the absurd premise that the average American has the kind of sit-down relationship with their doctor where they can casually chat about the designer drugs now available?

I have a better health care plan than most, and if I called my doctor to ask him if TechnoDrug was right for me, he'd start by asking, "What did you say your name was again?" And if I do get in to see him, there's generally a more pressing problem to talk about than whether I want to trade weak streams for wet dreams.

It's a Brave New Pharmaceutical World, where the "haves" are busy pestering their doctors about why their erections last six hours, while the rest of America sucks it up and tries to live with problems that will deteriorate if they don't get access to care they can't afford.

I think we've seen enough clip art models smiling through television sets as they pantomime a superior lifestyle granted to them by a fantasy drug that they only obtained through an equally fantastic doctor, the likes of which we've never met in real life, even while pharmaceutical companies frantically attempt to script it otherwise.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Revisiting a Keeper: Polo Alert - Selling Out is Now Cool

Jon Reed notes, December 2009: When I unearthed this gem from my old blog, I had to track down a fresh link for Peter McBride, who ushered in an ominous new era when he got a Polo logo tattooed on his chest. The events Peter did his small creepy part to usher in are still unfolding, but those who have an old fashioned appreciation for lines in the sand can't be encouraged. Read on for my rant on this topic from 2006, which ends with one of my favorite lines I've ever written. I won't spoil it for you, read four more paragraphs and you're there.

A few entries past, I wrote that selling out to corporations was actually becoming "cool." Even as I wrote it, I thought I went too far. But thanks to Peter McBride, we now know that I didn't go far enough. Forget about doing that "corporate tool" contest, and for that matter, forget about the "sackless man" competition - Peter has 'em both locked up.

Our boy Peter was waiting in line for a tattoo, and since the guy ahead of him was wearing a Polo shirt, Peter decided to get a Polo right on his chest. Give Peter credit. It's hard to stand out as a chump in a world of chumps. Peter is young and dumb as a post, so it's not fair to ride him as one of the four horsemen. But check this out: tattoo artist Gaje Pou, quoted in the piece on McBride by Lee Hudson Teslik, says that it's increasingly common for folks to have a corporate logo inscribed on their bodies. According to Pou, this practice "is becoming more and more acceptable." We are nearing that inconceivable day when "corporate is cool."

Truth be told, I was thinking of getting a tattoo also. But unlike Peter, I was looking for an image that might give me a bit of bravery on those days when I am floundering in a gutless world. Maybe I should get a tattoo of me knocking McBride off a horse and cramming a polo stick in his craw. If it's true that an act of bravery strengthens all of us, it's also true that an act of cowardice weakens us. I'm not going to deny it: McBride's decision was demoralizing. Not just because it was stupid, but because Peter is in step with where the world is headed, and I'm not.

Peter's Polo is one more sign that I'm off track, walking around with an unflattering chip on my shoulder and missing happy hour again. In junior high school, guys wearing Polo shirts threw me into a pool. Peter gave me a different kind of cold shower. But I like it here on the fringes with the dreamers and the freaks. If nothing else, our tattoos are superior. Peter's worst move? He didn't even arrange to get paid by Ralph Lauren for branding himself. Ah, to be on a date with Peter, unbuttoning his shirt for the first time, wondering if he is wearing some kind of Ralph Lauren skin undershirt, then realizing you date PoloMan. Admittedly, my life is shaping up as tragic drama. But at least it's not a fucking commercial.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Revisiting a Keeper: Verizon Encouraging Attention-Deficit Generation

"Anyone who has ever tried to give a presentation while some attention-deficit-disorder douchebag pounds text messages to vague social prospects knows that this kind of technology is nibbling away at the last remaining social conventions. " - Jon Reed on Verizon Mobile Sports, March 25, 2008

I'm going to publish plenty of new stuff on this blog, but I'm also seizing the chance to feature a few old classics from the archives. This Verizon Sports Rant was one of my faves:

Verizon Mobile Sports: Disrupting a Dinner Date Near You

"Verizon is running a clever series of commercials right now for its ESPN-driven sports update service, where you can get all kinds of sports scores and highlights right on your cell phone. On the surface, it seems cool for the so-called sports “nut” - if you want to get your sports updates wherever you are, why not give it a try? It’s the backstory that I find both amusing and a little repugnant. The amusing part? ESPN first tried to launch this service on its own, with its own phones and service, and suffered a rare, humiliating commercial failure.
There’s definitely something funny about seeing ESPN’s marketing turd all shiny and new with Verizon’s name and logo trying to cover up the warmed-over smell.

The second aspect, the repugnant part, comes into play with the idea that it’s somehow cool or appropriate to sneak peeks at your scores and highlights in the midst of all kind of formal occasions - in the case of the two commercials I’ve seen, company meetings and baby showers. It may seem harmless to promote such behavior, but anyone who has ever tried to give a presentation while some attention-deficit-disorder douchebag pounds text messages to vague social prospects knows that this kind of technology is nibbling away at the last remaining social conventions. I know this: if I see some glory days fraternity brother cheering when Alex Rodriguez manages to luck into a clutch hit in the middle of a talk I am giving, I’m gonna step away from my PowerPoint and pound his phone into shrapnel.

It’s great to have the convenience of updates, but is it too old-fashioned to wonder whether this makes us better human beings? If you can’t wait till you get home to find out whether the Sox left a runner stranded on third in the sixth, then you probably have a personality defect. The constant barrage of incoming information makes us terrible listeners, lacking focus for the people and projects that deserve our time and attention. I watch and listen to a lot of sports, and if I don’t see a need for such a service in my life, it makes me wonder about the headspace of the people Verizon is marketing to.

Of course, this problem is hardly limited to sports. I’ve been out on social occasions where someone got involved with a text message in the middle of a one-on-one conversation with me, without even bothering to excuse themselves or apologize. I guess it’s possible that I am such a terrible conversationalist that people are doing this out of social desperation, but I’m going to hold onto the illusion that it’s worth it to listen to me.

At any rate, whether I am worthy of focused conversation is irrelevant. What is relevant is that I’m not going to put up with it. The first person who checks their Verizon score update in the middle of a dinner date with me gets to contend with the bill all by themselves. They can watch the highlights all they want while I drive off in search of someone who still prefers human contact to constant childish stimulation."

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

JonReed Goes Off - Blog Moch 2

Welcome to my new JonReed.net blog. My old "rantblog" still exists - eventually I may take it offline once I salvage the best of 'em. we'll see.

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