Questionable Marketing Decision

March 15, 2011 at 11:13 pm | Posted in Internet Sleuthiness | 1 Comment
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Don’t ask why I’m on the Jack in the Box mailing list (the answer is random cravings for chicken sandwiches), but when this number came through my inbox the other day I was a bit stunned by the subject line:

“Dos mas weekos to winno el trippo to Cancun.”

I mean, I see what they’re going for here — dumbass gringos who can’t speak Spanish properly and instead spew an awful version of unintelligible Spanglish — but it still struck me as a bit tasteless. Or maybe just heavy-handed. Either that, or I’m becoming a humorless lame-o in my old age. Get off my lawn, you damn kids!

[ screenshot from my email, via Jack in the Box ]

Best Recent Amazon Purchase: Wrist Rest

March 7, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Posted in Internet Sleuthiness, Me | 1 Comment
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I don’t know how I made it through four years of undergrad and one year of working as a research assistant without succumbing to wrist pain caused by too much computer time, but somehow graduate school was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Less than a month into my second semester, and I was already suffering from painful wrists, particularly on my left side. I jerry-rigged a set up that involved two books laid flush with the bottom edge of my laptop to create a flatter surface for my wrists to rest upon, thereby minimizing the sharp edge that dug into my wrist. It was obvious, though, that I needed a more long-term solution, so I turned to Amazon, natch, and came up with an amazing product: the Intellegels Soft Foam Laptop Computer Wrist Rest. It creates a nice soft padded support for both wrists, and makes typing on the computer so much more comfortable. Plus, it came with a nice little carrying case, so I can stick it in my laptop case and take it to campus with me when I need to use my laptop at school. This little wrist rest has made me a happy customer!

However, there are two major caveats to singing this product’s praises: (1) If you click on that link above you’ll notice that it is currently out of stock on Amazon, and a quick visit to their website shows that Amazon is their only online retailer; otherwise, you’ll have to buy it at a store called Airport Wireless located “in Airports,” the site not-so-helpfully offers. I have no idea why Intelligels is not selling their products online at the moment; perhaps they just ran out of stock? Maybe I bought their last wrist rest? (It is their only product, after all.) Their website offers no explanation, so hopefully this is merely a temporary restocking kind of situation and not a Chapter 11 kind of situation.

And finally, (2), which is perhaps the more serious issue: it’s not actually made to work with a Mac. After many Amazon reviewers complained that their “one-size-fits-all” claim was misleading, since Macbooks have larger touch pads than many other laptop brands (such as Sony, Dell, and Toshiba) and so the rectangular cut-out in the wrist rest actually blocks about one-sixth of the touch pad, Intelligels altered the product description to remind readers that “fits” doesn’t necessarily mean “fits perfectly.” Hm. Questionable marketing at best, folks. Some Mac reviewers suggested cutting the wrist rest in half, thus allowing the two pieces to slide apart and leaving the touch pad (and mouse buttons) entirely free, but so far I’ve just lived with it. It’s a minor inconvenience at times, and has lead to a few instances of errant clicking, but I’m so happy with the support the pads provide that I wouldn’t dream of sending it back.

This is probably obvious, because all of like 3 people read these posts, but I am not being paid or compensated in any way by Intelligels for this post. I just thought I’d alert folks to the greatness that is a laptop wrist rest!

[ image from Amazon ]

Bubbles Quincy Adams

March 6, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Posted in Me | Leave a comment
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Allow me to introduce our cat, Bubbles — she is four years old, wears a tortoiseshell coat pattern, and is sometimes known to her friends as Bubbles Quincy Adams.

When my brother suggested that Bubbles deserved her own Facebook page, the first decision that we needed to make was obvious: what would her last name be? Bubbles The Cat seemed too obvious and pedestrian, so my boyfriend suggested Bubbles Washington, and then the aforementioned Bubbles Quincy Adams, affectionately named after his favorite U.S. president.

Something about the idea of a three-named cat struck us (and some friends we discussed this idea with) as hilarious, and so began the listing of  possible Bubbles aliases drawn from history and pop culture. Some of the contenders:

  • Lady Bubbles Johnson
  • Bubbles Todd Lincoln
  • Bubbles Bee Anthony
  • Bubbles E. Lee
  • Bubbles S Truman
  • Bubbles Washington Carver
  • Bubbles Jessica Parker
  • Bubbles Love Hewitt
  • Bubbles Bon Jovi
  • Shia LaBubbles — my friend Kelly came up with this one, and I think it might be my favorite, simply based on how much it made me laugh!

Since John Quincy Adams was the first president to have his photograph taken, it only seemed appropriate to begin photo creation with a Bubbles Q. Adams. She looks so dignified next to that giant stack of books!

Although usually I think the blog convention of ending a post with a comment-provoking question is somewhat trite, this seems like an appropriate situation to ask: Do you have any suggestions for other celebrities Bubbles could impersonate?

[ original image from Wikipedia ]

Confessions

February 9, 2011 at 11:12 am | Posted in Me | Leave a comment
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Back in 2008 I found myself inspired by a dress worn by Suri Cruise — who was, at the time, all of two years old — and that made me a little uncomfortable.

Today, I saw a photo of Usher with his two adorable sons, and again I’m feeling a twinge of sartorial inspiration:

See the cognac leather (pleather?) jacket on the little one on the right? That is basically the exact jacket I’ve been looking for for months! And probably in the right size, too — since it’s clearly too big for him, and I am hoping for a shrunken look. (Armed with this photo of Blake Lively, my mom even tried to track down a jacket for me, but was told that cognac was so two seasons ago. “You mean, two seasons from now, right?” I responded.)

Babies: YOU BETTER WORK.

[ image from Jezebel ]

I’m worried about Diet Soda Cake

February 6, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Posted in Internet Sleuthiness | Leave a comment
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It started off as a completely innocent search: How much does a batch of frosted cupcakes cost to make? Ten minutes and many Yahoo! Answers pages later, I had gone off the deep end of diet baked goods, and I was starting to get worried. Fucking Diet Soda Cakes: How do they work?

A few weeks ago, I bought a box of Funfetti Cupcake Mix on sale for $1. I mixed up a small batch of cream cheese frosting to go with the cupcakes, with ingredients totaling about $1.80, so final cost for each of my 12 cupcakes was about 23 cents.

I was curious how this cost matched up to budget-conscious food blog recipes, so I searched Budget Bytes, a great food blog focused on homemade low-cost meals, to see how my $2.80 matched up. The site’s sole cupcake recipe included both boxed frosting and food coloring, so budget-wise we were on different levels, but it wasn’t the cost that caught my eye. IT WAS THE DIET SODA.

White cake mix and a can of diet lemon-lime soda form the basis of this recipe; the soda substituted for the vegetable oil and eggs that typically flesh out a boxed cake mix. I’m still not clear on how this works scientifically, and the online community seems equally vexed. No closer to the answer of the food science behind the cake, my next question was this: were diet soda cakes an innovation unique to this blog? Or had I stumbled on some kind of crazy diet baked goods underbelly?

Much to my surprise, the answer was the latter: diet soda cakes blanket the internet with the force of an adorable cat video. Chocolate cake and diet root beer. Devil’s food cake and diet Coke. White cake and diet Sprite, or, if you’re feeling sassy, diet orange soda. Recipes — that is, if you can call “1 box mix, 1 can of soda” a recipe — and recommendations abound, with most posters crediting Weight Watchers for the creation. Some people prefer the addition of an egg white or two, while others suggest fruit additions such as canned pineapple or frozen blueberries. Some (read: Yahoo! Answers users, natch) misunderstand the concept of ingredient reduction altogether. But the common thread is clear: Diet soda makes dieting DELICIOUS.

I can tell you right now: I will most likely never bake a diet soda cake, simply because I dislike the taste of artificial sweeteners. But hey, if that’s your jam, go for it!

[ Image from Amazon ]

I don’t know why I’ve been stuck in the ’90s lately

January 25, 2011 at 1:15 am | Posted in Internet Sleuthiness | Leave a comment
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But seriously, how ridiculous and awesome is Gwyneth Paltrow’s red carpet ensemble from the 1996 premiere of From Dusk Till Dawn?? Crop top, long black skirt, long leopard coat (side note: I love that the 1990s can now be called “vintage”), and — the crowning touch — the black Jack Purcells: the shoe of choice for every single cool girl in my 8th grade class.

[ image from IMDb ]

Another ’90s Moment: No Doubt

January 17, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Posted in Internet Sleuthiness | Leave a comment
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Two months ago I had a brief ’90s flashback when two of the decade’s (teen) movie stars appeared side by side on a website I was reading. The ’90s are certainly having a big moment lately. Although I can’t say I’m on board with all aspects of the ’90s fashion revival that has surfaced over the past year or so (such as super-light or acid wash denim, yikes!), but one thing that did make me feel a little nostalgic was watching an old No Doubt music video.

I can’t remember why I decided to watch the video for “Don’t Speak” last month, but the first thing that jumped out at me was the clothing and accessories worn by Gwen Stefani.

First of all, I am on a major polka dot kick lately, so of course I loved her dress. Its simple cut, shape, and print — with the fun addition of the tiny buttons along the neckline — made me wish I had it in my closet! But what really made this video notable was the simplicity and informality of Gwen’s whole outfit: basic cotton dress, black jelly bracelets that everyone wore in the ’90s/early ’00s, normal-looking hairstyle, and, to top it all off, no shoes!

The rest of the band is dressed in a similarly casual outfit. My favorite outfit nomination goes to Tony for his Adidas track suit pants!

The whole look of the video, from the clothing to the accessories to the shooting location, gives it such an unselfconscious vibe that you hardly see in music videos anymore. (A prime example is Lady Gaga.) Perhaps the most telling little detail of the “No Speak” video that places it in the ’90s context is something presumably unintended:

A broken seam (or open zipper) on Gwen’s dress! I imagine most of today’s musicians would likely reshoot a video that exposed such a flaw.

While I certainly appreciate the artistry that goes into something like Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” video, I also have a soft place in my heart for the sweet honest simplicity embodied by No Doubt’s early music videos.

[ Album cover from Amazon; all other images are stills from the “Don’t Speak” music video ]

Helpful Style Guide Tips

December 15, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Posted in Internet Sleuthiness | Leave a comment
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In true obsessed-with-punctuation form, while finishing up a paper today I scoured the internet* to figure out if nation–state should be connected with a hyphen (-) or an en dash (–)**. While searching, I came across the style guide for The Economist:

Scroll down a bit, and you come across this gem of a suggestion:

I can just picture the bored copy editor putting this list together and slipping that one in like an easter egg for those hearty few who are nerdy enough to read through an entire list of hyphenated and not-hyphenated words.

* If you’re interested in the outcome of this search: although I couldn’t find a definitive word in the matter (e.g. no website said, “Hey dude! Everyone knows that nation–state should be connected with a ____!”), I feel pretty confident that my original choice of an en dash was correct, since en dash is used to connect two terms that do not modify each other, such as Smith–Jones Treaty or California–Oregon border. I think nation–state falls in this category, no?

** Of course this would happen in this post: for some reason the en dashes I coded (that is basically the extent of my html knowledge, haha) do not show up on my screen, and are rendered as lame-ass hyphens instead. Hopefully your computer is smarter than mine, so you can get the full effect of my punctuation journey!

[ images from The Economist ]

Idioms in Distress

December 11, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Posted in Internet Sleuthiness | Leave a comment
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I’m worried about the idioms.

They’ve been feeling neglected and, really, misunderstood. It’s not that people have stopped using them, no; they’ve been notably present in everyday speech. Rather, the problem is misuse. It is apparent that, as my mom used to say, American idiom use is becoming more and more “culturally illiterate.” Observe:

“Cooking for kids is something that hits very dear to me.”

One of the contestants on Top Chef All Stars uttered this mangled phrase, a dreary combination of “hits close to home” and “is very dear to me.” One idiom or the other, dude: YOU MUST CHOOSE.

“We were deep in the weeds trying to dig our own graves.”

While this example (from another reality show I have  now forgotten) does not Frankenstein two idioms together, it has ignored the common sense one-idiom-per-sentence rule that all speakers would be advised to follow. Again, you must choose: are you “deep in the weeds” OR “trying to dig your own graves”? You can’t be both—not in the same sentence at least.

Finally, a sports metaphor:

“[John Doe] has been a home run hitter for the Dallas Cowboys.”

Now, I’m sure the ESPN announcer who uttered this sentence is aware that the Cowboys play football, not baseball. This is not an example of sports confusion, but rather proof positive that the most potent sports metaphor seems to be a baseball metaphor: applicable anywhere, even when talking about other sports.

Would you pay $45 for sequins?

December 6, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Posted in Internet Sleuthiness | Leave a comment
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J.Crew and Old Navy are currently selling nearly-identical t-shirts. Observe:

The main difference? A few rows of sequins… and $45. Both shirts are currently on sale, which puts J.Crew’s at $49.99 (down from the original $72!!) and Old Navy’s version in Navy Stripe at $4.99. Personally, I’d rather go sans-sequins—full disclosure: I bought the Old Navy shirt a few weeks ago!—but for those who prefer their striped shirts to be a little more festive, might I suggest an alternative, courtesy of Amazon?

There. Just saved you $41. You’re welcome.

[ images from J.Crew, Old Navy, and Amazon. ]

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