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You Late – Tom Nob’s Thursday Notes #210

3 October, 2013 (10:07) | Audio, Film, TV | By: tomnob2008

Here is the two-hundred-and-tenth edition of Tom Nob’s Thursday Notes. TN2 serves as a brief summary of what good humor we have found during the past week plus some suggestions for the upcoming weekend.

New Films

Enough Said

Enough_Said

A.C.O.D.

ACOD

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2

Cloudy2

New Comedy

Gabriel Iglesias: Aloha Fluffy

aloha_fluffy_cd

Jimmy Pardo: Sprezzatura

sprezzatura

Tom Papa: Freaked Out

freaked_out

Dave Foley:  Relatively Well

relatively_well

New TV Shows

We Are Men

we_are_men

Super Fun Night

Super_Fun_Night

Hello Ladies

hello_ladies

And Finally

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”  This quote is commonly attributed to John Wanamaker who many consider to be the father of modern advertising renowned as the creator of the money-back guarantee and the first retailer to place half-page and full-page newspaper ads.  As an early innovator he quickly realized that it was very difficult to determine if an advertisement actually caused the customer to make a purchase.  Conversely, it has been far easier to determine when the customer has decided to not purchase a product based on marketing gone bad.

The archives of the advertising age are replete with examples of promotional campaigns that only succeeded in repelling its target customer.  The most common source of marketing misses tend to stem from the failure to appreciate cultural differences or simple errors in translation.  The example typically cited as being the most egregious was Chevrolet’s attempt to market the Nova in Mexico where Nova translates as “doesn’t go.”  However, the king of marketing miscues may have just been de-throned.

Recently the Canadian division of Vitaminwater, which is owned by Coca-Cola, devised a marketing campaign which paired English and French words under the cap as way of celebrating bilingualism in Canada.  The company brought in native speakers of both languages to ensure that the words selected were appropriate but not necessarily how they might be paired.  And, thus, the campaign went horribly wrong when a woman from Alberta opened her bottle of Vitaminwater, turned over the cap, and read “YOU RETARD”.  It really didn’t matter that the second word translates as “late” in French; the damage was done.  Parents, families and friends of individuals who excel in life in spite of mental and physical challenges take great offense to the word retard being used as a pejorative and social media has proven to be an effective venue for reclaiming the word from its heretofore role as a byword for, shall we say, underachievement.  Vitamin soon found themselves apologizing, ending the campaign, pulling bottles off the shelves, and donating money to charities.   The company learned the painful lesson that once the bottle is opened and “you late” is released it is already too late to undo the damage.

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Sweet Misery – Tom Nob’s Thursday Notes #209

19 September, 2013 (09:37) | Audio, TV | By: tomnob2008

Here is the two-hundred-and-ninth edition of Tom Nob’s Thursday Notes. TN2 serves as a brief summary of what good humor we have found during the past week plus some suggestions for the upcoming weekend.

New TV Shows

Dads

dads

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

brooklyn_99

New TV Season

Bones – season 9

bones

New Girl – season 3

new_girl

The Mindy Project – season 2

Mindy_prroject

Last Man Standing – season 3

Last_Man_Standing

Neighbors – season 2

The_Neighbors

Glee – season 5

glee

New Comedy

John Caparulo: Come Inside Me

come_inside_me

Doug Stanhope: Beer Hall Putsch

beer_hall

And Finally

At the risk of exposing our age, one of the favorite quotable films from our younger days was Strange Brew.   Among the many great lines was this gem:   ”Me and Doug always said that drowning in beer would be like heaven.  This isn’t heaven…this sucks.”  These fond memories came flooding back to us recently when reading about an oceanic accident in Hawaii.  It seems that a pipe used to load molasses from onshore storage tanks onto vessels headed for California sprang a leak causing 1,400 tons of molasses to ooze into the harbor.  More than a very slow moving mess, the viscosity of the molasses was suffocating fish and thousands of our finned friends were expected to perish.  There is obviously nothing inherently funny about this story other than that, according to the Associated Press, the spokesman for the shipping company responsible for the leak issued a statement that the company had “repaired the hole and the pipe stopped leaking”.  This is a statement of stupid simplicity that even Bob and Doug Mackenzie could appreciate.

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Gorillas in the Missed – Tom Nob’s Thursday Notes #208

12 September, 2013 (09:06) | TV | By: tomnob2008

Here is the two-hundred-and-eighth edition of Tom Nob’s Thursday Notes. TN2 serves as a brief summary of what good humor we have found during the past week plus some suggestions for the upcoming weekend.

New TV Season

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – season 9

always-sunny

The League – season 5

the_league

And Finally

Over the past two weeks the world’s media attention has been riveted to the situation within Syria and the possibility of a U.S.-led strike against the Syrian government in retaliation for its use of chemical weapons on its own citizenry.  The linchpin in such a military response is the notion of “proof.”  The U.S. and its allies claim that sufficient proof exists to pin the blame squarely on Bashar al-Assad and his henchmen while the Russians and other Syrian-allies retort “no you don’t.”  For those of us whose sole experiences with law enforcement and the judicial system come via dramatic television programs and motion pictures, our understanding is that the ultimate proof of guilt comes ideally from a confession and then, if that is lacking, an eyewitness who can point an accusing finger and declare:  ”He’s the one.  That’s the man who did it.”  What is remarkable, though, is how many of the “positive” identifications provided by eyewitnesses are simply false because of the mysterious ways that the human brain works.

We made this link after reading about a new study that was recently published in Psychological Science.  In this study, researchers asked experienced radiologists to review a series of slides to look for physical abnormalities upon which the image of a gorilla gradually appeared and then faded away.  Upon completing this process, only 17% of the radiologists reported noticing the gorilla.  Special eye-tracking technology confirmed that the participants did not see the gorilla even though they were looking right at it.  This is certainly not a knock against radiologists but rather emblematic of what psychologists call “inattention blindness” which occurs when someone concentrates so hard on one thing that literally all other things that transpire are missed by their consciousness.  You can test this phenomenon on your family by friends by having them watch the videos on Invisible Gorilla and see what they can see.  The bottom line is that due to the peculiarities of human consciousness the concepts of reality, facts and proof can be far less certain than any of us who like.  As for Assad, if he is indeed responsible for the gassing of innocent Syrians then those who seek justice can take some solace in the fact that the dictator is a tall gorilla not likely to be missed.

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Taken For a Ride – Tom Nob’s Thursday Notes #207

5 September, 2013 (10:17) | Audio, Film | By: tomnob2008

Here is the two-hundred-and-seventh edition of Tom Nob’s Thursday Notes. TN2 serves as a brief summary of what good humor we have found during the past week plus some suggestions for the upcoming weekend.

New Films

Populaire – US release

populaire

New Comedy

Joe DeRosa: You Will Die

you_will_die

Pete Correale: Give It a Rest

give_it_a_rest

Iliza Shlesinger:  War Paint

war_paint

And Finally

Being that 2013 is an “off year” for national elections here in the United States, we have both the time and energy to check in on some of the elections taking place in other countries. We have already reported on the German elections where the Green Party tried to whip up some attention and support by advocating that sausages be removed from public cafeterias one day a week. This proposal proved to be as popular as kale on a stick and was quickly put back on the shelf. Another election that has caught our attention is a little further to the north in fjord-filled Norway where parliamentarian elections will be held on September 9th. Norwegian elections generally don’t generate much attention as they tend to be very polite and, to be honest, there is really very little that separates the main parties.

The marquee race is for the prime minster post, a position currently held by Jens Stoltenberg who is seeking another term. Two summers ago the approval rating for Mr. Stoltenberg was 94% after Norwegians banded together following the horrific violence. Two years on and the populace seems to have gotten, well, bored with Mr. Stoltenberg. This is saying a lot as the Norwegians are notorious for their affinity for tedium such as national broadcasts of logs burning in a fireplace. Seeking to rekindle the spark, Mr. Stoltenberg made the dubious decision this summer to engage in a scheme wherein he would pretend to be an ordinary taxi driver and then win over the voters one-by-one with his intelligence and charm. This campaign drive went into the ditch when it was disclosed that many of the passengers had been paid to participate and that one legitimate passenger complained that the prime minster’s poor driving skills exacerbated her back pains. The message here seems to be that the Norwegians do not necessarily require a lot of excitement in their journey but they certainly don’t want to be taken for a ride.

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Steer It Up – Tom Nob’s Thursday Notes #206

29 August, 2013 (12:15) | Audio, TV | By: tomnob2008

Here is the two-hundred-and-sixth edition of Tom Nob’s Thursday Notes. TN2 serves as a brief summary of what good humor we have found during the past week plus some suggestions for the upcoming weekend.

New Films

The World’s End – US release

worlds_end

Drinking Buddies

Drinking_Buddies

New Comedy

Patrice O’Neal: Unreleased

unreleased

Greg Ftizsimmons: Life on Stage

life_on_stage

Jim Norton:  Please Be Offended

please_be_offended

Kurt Braunohler:  How Do I Land?

how_do_I_land

And Finally

With August drawing to a close, children throughout the northern hemisphere are undergoing the back-to-school rituals.  All are advised to keep their eyes peeled to help keep the whippersnappers safe as they travel to and fro school on foot, bike, or bus.  Extra caution is necessary in the mornings and afternoons when the roads are crowded with the most insidious of creatures – the teenage driver.   The reasons why teenage drivers pose such grave peril are both well-known and obvious but we recently came across a surprising tidbit about the role of music in their vehicular mayhem.  Researchers at the Ben-Guiron University in Israel recruited 85 volunteers of approximately 18 years in age and asked them to drive an unfamiliar route with a driving instructor under one of three scenarios:  while listening to music of their own choosing; while listening to mix of music created by the the researchers; and, while listening to no music.  It should come as no surprise that the songs selected by the teeny-boppers were fast-paced and played at high volume, whereas the songs selected by researchers consisted of light jazz, soft rock, and easy listening which were turned way down by the drivers.  Conforming to cliche, researchers found that the males drove more aggressively and made more driving mistakes (i.e., speeding, weaving, driving with one-hand, etc.) than their female counterparts.  However, drivers of both sexes made errors in 98% of trips when allowed to listen to their own music.  The error rate dropped somewhat to 92% when no music was played and plummeted to 77% when drivers listened to the mix made by the researchers.  One caveat offered by the researchers that will not make any of us feel better is that they believe that drivers were on their best behavior due to both the route and the instructor being unfamiliar to the teenagers.  The lesson for parents here is that if you want to keep your kiddos safe then you had better regain control of the proverbial radio dial and lay down the law:  you want the keys to the car then you had better listen to the Mamas and the Papas.

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Worse Than Wurst? – Tom Nob’s Thursday Notes #205

15 August, 2013 (10:13) | Audio, Film, TV | By: tomnob2008

Here is the two-hundred-and-fifth edition of Tom Nob’s Thursday Notes. TN2 serves as a brief summary of what good humor we have found during the past week plus some suggestions for the upcoming weekend.

New Films

Kick-Ass 2

Kick_Ass_2

New Comedy

Drew Michael: Lovely

lovely

Trevor Noah: African American

african_american_dvd

Bill Engvall’s New All Stars of Country Comedy

engvall_all_stars

And Finally

“Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.”  At least for today, it is entirely appropriate that this quote is commonly mis-attributed to Otto von Bismarck, the first Chancellor of the German Empire.  For you see, Germany is in the midst of their election season and the opposition parties are struggling to make inroads against the formidable lead of Angela Merkel, head of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), who is seeking a third term as chancellor.  The difficulty of this situation, further exacerbated by much of the populace on summer holidays, was laid bare by the efforts of the Green party in early August to rake the CDU over the coals by taking a stab at sausages.  Specifically, the Greens want the public cafeterias in the country to remove the ever-present wurst (aka sausage) from their menus once a week to be replaced by, well, greens.  While they did succeed in generating media attention during the August doldrums, it ultimately backfired as the Greens soon discovered they were less than unified in promoting a wurst-free world.  They generated further ridicule when they issued a press release that would make John Kerry proud in which the Greens proclaimed that members of the CDU were for a “veggie day” in the Bundestag cafeteria before they were against it.  All of which goes to show that the difference between knackwurst and knucklehead is quickly bridged by picking the worst possible idea.

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Lively Up Your Sauce – Tom Nob’s Thursday Notes #204

8 August, 2013 (11:04) | Books, Film | By: tomnob2008

Here is the two-hundred-and-fourth edition of Tom Nob’s Thursday Notes. TN2 serves as a brief summary of what good humor we have found during the past week plus some suggestions for the upcoming weekend.

New Films

Prince Avalanche

Prince_Avalanche

In A World…

In_a_World

I Give It a Year – US release

I_Give_It_a_Year

New Books

The Telling Room by Michael Paterniti

telling_room

Turn Around Bright Eyes by Rob Sheffield

turn_around

And Finally

Religion can be a funny thing that many people take very seriously, often to a fault. Each religion comes with its own set of symbols and stories that, when regarded with a dispassionate, objective eye, can rightfully be considered absurd. The difference between an established religion and a so-called cult is that in the former the core stories took place a long time ago in a land far, far away. To wit, an 19th century American guided to buried golden plates in western New York is tomfoolery but an elderly Hebrew gentleman transcribing the word of God onto tablets while upon Mount Sinai circa 1300 BC is perfectly reasonable.  All of these weighty issues sprang to mind as we sought to re-acquaint ourselves in the teachings and beliefs of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. This church was created in 2005 by the “prophet” Bobby Henderson who penned an open letter to the Kansas State Board of Education objecting to their proposal to permit the teaching of intelligent design during biology classes.  Clearly using satire in its most potent form, Mr. Henderson wrote that he believed that the universe was created by the invisible (and undetectable) Flying Spaghetti Monster and requested that his beliefs be given equal time in Kansas classrooms. When the Kansas State Board of Education did not respond to his letter in a timely manner, Mr. Henderson posted it on his website and the rest, as they say, is history.

Devotees of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, who call themselves Pastafarians, can now be found around the world. And really, who can blame them. According to this religion, heaven consists of a beer volcano and a stripper factory which is quite similar to hell except that there the beer is stale and the strippers have STDs. Every Friday is a holy day and who can object to International Talk Like a Pirate Day on September 19th. Pirates, of course, being the original Pastafarians. You can become fully versed in the religion by reading The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

For many of you this comes as an old joke that was enjoyed and then forgotten eight years ago.  So why bring it back up now?  Because it may surprise you to learn, as we alluded to above, that this has grown from a satirical protest into a religion-of-sorts aided and abetted by the internet with adherents found in many countries.  Indeed, last week came the news that a man in the Czech Republic, Lukas Novy, was allowed to be photographed with a colander for his government identification card.  Mr. Novy had claimed that he was a devout pastafarian and that the colander was a religious garment.  It just makes you wonder how many religious and cultural practices started off as pranks, satirical commentary, or simply alcohol-fueled shenanigans and now, centuries later, continue to be observed in total seriousness.  Indeed, if pastafarians were confronted with a burning bush you can rest assured that they would first give thanks that the Flying Spaghetti Monster boiled for their sins and then place a pot of water on the bush to prepare a whole mess of pasta.  R’amen.

pastafarian

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Tricky Dicks – Tom Nob’s Thursday Notes #203

1 August, 2013 (09:47) | Film, TV | By: tomnob2008

Here is the two-hundred-and-third edition of Tom Nob’s Thursday Notes. TN2 serves as a brief summary of what good humor we have found during the past week plus some suggestions for the upcoming weekend.

New Films

When Comedy Went to School

comedy_went

Cockneys vs. Zombies – US release

Cockneys_vs_zombies

New TV Season

Childrens Hospital - season 5

Childrens_hospital

And Finally

In a democracy, the people get the government they deserve.  This condescending and cynical adage is almost as old as the modern era of democracy which began with the 13 founding states establishing the United States of America.  The underlying assumption is that if a populace find themselves being governed by scoundrels, miscreants or thugs it is because that they are emblematic of the quality of the citizenry.  An interesting test case of this adage is currently being undertaken in the first national capital of the United States, New York City.  In one corner, we have the race for the Democratic nomination for City Comptroller.  Typically a race that garners very little attention (who actually knows what the comptroller does?),  it quickly moved to page one at the beginning of July when Ellot Spitzer threw his hat in the ring.  As a former New York State Attorney General, Governor, and television host, this would seem like a big step down in status but, in case you have forgotten, Mr. Spitzer was forced to resign as governor when it was discovered that he was a frequent patron of high-end prostitutes.  In another corner, we have the race of the Democratic nomination for Mayor which includes the candidacy of former Congressman Anthony Weiner.  What Mr. Weiner shares in common with Mr. Spitzer is that he too was forced to resign his politically elected position after his particular brand of sexual peccadilloes (sexting) were exposed and that he also believes in forgiveness via the ballot box.  Mr. Weiner’s hard road became even steeper after it was reveled last month that he had continued to engage in sexting with multiple woman (none of which being his wife) even after his resignation and public proclamations that he had mended his ways.  And so when Democrats living in New York City head to their primary elections on September 10 to exercise their democratic rights they will not only be testing the adage about the government they deserve but also the theory that there is no such thing as bad publicity.  If polling  is to be believed, Mr. Weiner will soon have a surplus of time to demonstrate (once again) that idle hands are the Devil’s playground whereas Mr. Spitzer will be proceeding to the November general election.  Should this come to pass then one of Mr. Spitzer’s challengers will be Kristin M. Davis, a former madam who ran a high-end prostitution ring in New York City whose clients included one Eliot Spitzer.  New York City has seen more than its fair share of political dirty tricks but this race could give that term entirely new meanings.

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Game of Thrones – Tom Nob’s Thursday Notes #202

25 July, 2013 (10:00) | Audio, Film, TV | By: tomnob2008

Here is the two-hundred-and-second edition of Tom Nob’s Thursday Notes. TN2 serves as a brief summary of what good humor we have found during the past week plus some suggestions for the upcoming weekend.

New Films

Blue Jasmine

Blue_Jasmine

New Comedy

Kumail Nanjiani:  Beta Male

beta_male

Doug Loves Movies:  Super Tournament of Champions

Doug-Loves-Movies

New TV Season

NTSF:SD:SUV – season 3

ntsf

Web Therapy – season 3

web-therapy

And Finally

There is no question that the Brits are on fire.  We are not referring to the recent heatwave that has afflicted Albion but rather the torrid pace of victories that have been recently racked up by British athletes.  To name a few, Justin Rose outlasted Phil Mickelson at the US Open, Andy Murray prevailed at Wimbledon, and Chris Froome climbed away from the peloton to claim the (newly cleaned) yellow jersey at the Tour de France.  The fevered pitch seemed to reach a crescendo during the past fortnight with a long-awaited announcement.  Some will come to the immediate conclusion that this refers to the royal birth but even the arrival of the third-in-line-to-the-throne was relegated to runner-up.  At the top of the pedestal is the decision by the European Court of Justice that will allow the Brits to continue to watch the World Cup and other major international soccer (football) matches for free.  Two of the sports main governing bodies, FIFA and UEFA, had litigated to sell the exclusive television rights for these events to pay-TV channels but the court affirmed an earlier decision that countries can prevent exclusivity for events deemed to be of “major importance to society.”   Andy Murray was the first Brit male to win at Wimbledon in 77 years and with the birth of George there are now three generations of males lined up to be king, something the Brits have not experienced in 61 years.  The final frontier for the frenzied football fans would be a victory in the World Cup which has not occurred in 47 years.  Again, these are heady days in Britain which have revived the collective sporting dreams of the nation and when they finally witness it they will be able to say that they never paid for it and never will.  Which is something that the gym-loving candidate to be king of New York, Anthony Weiner, might claim as well, but that is a story for another day….

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Strike Out – Tom Nob’s Thursday Notes #201

18 July, 2013 (10:47) | Audio, Film, TV | By: tomnob2008

Here is the two-hundred-and-first edition of Tom Nob’s Thursday Notes. TN2 serves as a brief summary of what good humor we have found during the past week plus some suggestions for the upcoming weekend.

New Films

Grabbers – US release

Grabbers

New Comedy

Maria Bamford: Ask Me About My New God!

ask_me

Andy Kaufman:  Andy & His Grandmother

andy_grandmother

Bob Saget:  That’s What I’m Talkin’ About

thats_what

Jerry Rocha:  Take That, Real Dad

real_dad

Moshe Kasher: Live in Oakland

live_oakland

New TV Season

Suits – season 3

suits

Comedy Bang! Bang! - season 2

comedy_bang

And Finally

If you were asked…and you will be one day, so pay attention…which country experiences the most work stoppages due to strikes, your immediate response would most likely be France.  It would be a great answer, but wrong.  In fact, according to the most recently available data, it is actually Canada that wears this dubious crown.  Yes, indeed, it is those good-natured, vowel-challenged, syrup-swilling Canucks who are most prone to engage in labor disputes.  Maybe one reason why this answer is so surprising relates to visibility.  Here is how a typical strike in France goes:  nurses in Paris go in strike demanding higher wages and better working conditions.  Truck drivers join the strike in support because, hey, who wouldn’t want to hang out with nurses for the day instead of going to work.  The rail operators then join the strike because they don’t want the truckers to have all the luck with the nurses. And then the students join the strike because it looks like a street party and they don’t want to go to class.  Paris grinds to a halt, tourists are forced to walk and witness the marches, there is a lot of media coverage, whistles are blown, slogans are chanted, and the next day everyone returns to their normal lives.  In Canada, however, most of these strikes take place at mines and other industrial sites far from the public eye and last for weeks or even months without the general public really being impacted or even knowing anything about it.  The other, more nuanced reason may be that the French have been so successful in transforming their nation into a social-welfare state that they no longer have much to complain about.  This is what came to mind when we read about the recent strike at the iconic Mont-Saint-Michel located just off the Normandy coast.  It seems that the government workers who staff the medieval island abbey are peeved that the special vans that transported them from the bus stop to the front entrance have been eliminated meaning that their commute has been extended by approximately 500 yards (300 meters).  In response, they staged a walk-out (ironique, non?) that has meant tourists who made the trek to the World Heritage site were denied entrance to the abbey including the legions who arrived in town with the Tour de France.  We suspect that Tour fans were quite unimpressed by this situation as 1) they celebrate displays of physical human endurance,  2) they believe that champions don’t reach the finish line in shuttle buses, and 3) they have developed an ability to sniff out dopes.  As they say in America, three strikes and you’re out.

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