Monday, December 31, 2007

The Year End - Part Four

Well, here we are. It's the final day of 2007, and we're looking ahead to 2008. The past year has definitely been an interesting one, and we expect no less out of the upcoming calendar. This is a time to refresh, restart, and rededicate, or just to look at everything with new eyes. And that's why we present, in our humble opinion...

The Top 12 Months

12. August
August is often viewed by many as being one of the more troublesome months. It gets very hot, there are no real good holidays, and school is right around the corner. But it holds some charm. After all, what other month can lead quite so easily to experimentation with eggs and sidewalks?

11. April
We don't really have anything against April. We actually like the month in general. But that clever little rhyme about "April showers" exists for a reason. The month is wet, both because the ground is thawing, and because the sky keeps opening up. But hey, it gets off to a great start.

10. October
Autumn is in full swing, and Halloween is waiting. It must be October, when the air turns a few degrees cooler, and hot apple cider starts seeming like a really good idea.

9. June
There's not a lot going on in June, but it's such a nice, slow transition into the summer months that we just couldn't place it anywhere else on the list. If only it could get a good holiday of its own, instead of riding the coattails of "Christmas in July".

8. May
People that get their summers off from work or school tend to look forward to May with great anticipation. We look forward to knowing that the summer movie season, complete with numerous disappointments, is right around the corner.

7. September
Why does September rank just above May? Well, they've got similar holidays, and common weather patterns. So what sets September apart? All those people who were being smarmy after getting the summer off are definitely back to work or class.

6. November
Hey, Thanksgiving alone would help tip this month forward. However, the encroachment of Christmas and the overabundance of football promotions, coupled with it being an election month, kept it just out of the top 5.

5. December
The month of giving (or, in many places, taking) ranks firmly at number 5 for us. It's got brisk winds, crisp temperatures, loads of holiday cheer, and people wishing their fellow people well. It's also got crippling credit card bills and post-holiday depression, but we won't hold those too much against them.

4. October
The month so nice we ranked it twice. What can we say? We really love Halloween.

3. July
Americans get to celebrate Independence Day. The rest of the world gets to wonder why Americans celebrate their independence with things that are reminiscent of bombs exploding. Sounds like a good second-runner-up to us.

2. March
The month that features St. Patrick's Day (and sometimes Easter) is firmly in second place, if only because it shows just what people can do when they don't let a little thing like Prohibition or religious persecution get in the way of a good time.

1. January
It's the first month of the year for a reason. When January hits, everyone gets a fresh slate, full of 365 (plus a little extra) within which to make entirely new mistakes, friends, and experiences. Besides, what other month gets to start out with a huge world-wide party?

You may think that we missed February. We didn't. We know that February is just a few weeks, masquerading as an actual month. So it automatically doesn't qualify.

Well, folks, that wraps up our year here at the Coffee-Soaked Mind. We hope you've had a great 2007, and we'll see you in 2008! Stay safe out there.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Year End - Part Three

Welcome to Friday. Enjoy it, because it's the last one that we get in 2007. Our regular readers know that Friday is the day where we usually reach into a grab bag of news stories, for our awards. Well, we're changing things up a bit today, but we're looking to ourselves for inspiration. And, instead of one top ten list, we're going to put together two top five lists. You know, for a little variety.

Top Five Awards Shows We'd Like to See

5. The Unis
We could take this in multiple different directions, but we've decided that it really should be an awards show devoted entirely to people who wear unitards, ride unicycles, or do other things where one works just as well as two. Our idea for the trophy? How about a unicorn?

4. The Bummies
No, this wouldn't be an awards show for the best homeless, or even the best homeless outreach. We're thinking that, since so much of our culture obsesses over people's backsides, why not have awards for them? Who wouldn't want to walk away with "Best Supporting Bum"? Besides, calling it the Bummies would give it a little bit of British class.

3. The Grampies
We've got the Grammy Awards already, so why not have a similar awards show? The benefit of the Grampies is that they could be devoted entirely to artists well past their prime who embarrassed themselves the least over the previous year. Naturally, Aerosmith is never eligible.

2. The Greasies
Isn't it time that we became a little less health-conscious in this country? We would love to see an awards show where the best greasy spoon diners across the country were awarded for their dedication to all things lard.

1. The Panties
Yes, this awards show would be exactly what you expect it to be. Maybe if prizes were given out to celebretards for actually wearing underwear, we could get more of them to do it. Suggestions for the gift basket include gift certificates to Victoria's Secret and instructions explaining how to get out of a car while wearing a skirt.

And now, The Top Five New Reality Show Concepts We Might Watch

5. Pirates vs. Ninjas
It's been an Internet sensation (by which we mean that everyone has heard of the concept at least once) for a few years, so isn't it time that network television contacted actual pirates and actual ninjas to face off in battle? Add some D-list celebrities (anyone who's been featured on a VH1 reality show should work) for an added level of fun. And yes, by fun, we mean splattery carnage-type fun.

4. Extreme Head Injury Hour
Japanese game shows are weird. That's why, when they get repackaged for American audiences, we often don't see the full competition. Instead, we just get a glimpse into the overarching concept, while seeing some of the more impressive spills. So why not put together an hour of programming that's devoted entirely to head trauma? It can't be any worse than people screaming at briefcases for an hour.

3. Ad-off
We view this as a potential for the political season. Candidates take their best campaign commercials, and then display them during one set block of time. The viewers at home get to call in to vote for which commercial they prefer, with the losers never being given air time again. As an added bonus, it would be a way for people to actually vote for a candidate without leaving their houses.

2. Celebrity Survivor
Let's up the ante on this one a little more, too. Instead of just using celebrities, let the public vote on the celebrities we're most tired of. Then strand them on a desert island, give them a 50/50 chance for survival, and tell them that there will be cameras capturing their every move. As a final master stroke, don't actually hook the cameras up to anything, thereby allowing us to be rid of people like Paris Hilton for awhile without her possibly appearing on our television.

1. American Idol Gladiators
America votes for their next singing sensation. The catch? The singers also need to battle past athletes that make professional wrestlers look serious, all in hopes of reaching the Eliminator. In the end, we'll all learn that our next American Idol is also the last person we want to run into in a dark alley. And just think what this could have done for Clay Aiken.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Year End - Part Two

Welcome to day two. Sometimes, we choose to forget that, at our core, we're a news blog. Sure, we like to make fun of the stories that we find, and we sometimes poke a little too much at certain subjects. But, once you wade through the sarcasm and the jokes, you discover that we really are here to help people learn about what's going on in the world.

Doing this, of course, there will always be days like today, where a news item is so shocking and carries such impact that we know it will be covered by others as fully as possible. We don't try to shy away from these events, but we also know that we would do a disservice to not even give a nod. We won't mention specifics, but we will acknowledge the events. And we will use the importance of the news as our guideline for today's list.

Top Ten Headlines We'd Love to See in 2008

10. Voter apathy at all time low
It would be nice to think that this next election cycle, voters will turn out in droves, so that there could be an actual candidate who could claim a majority, as opposed to those who win based off of the majority that vote. And yet, even with the stark polarization of politics for the last decade or so, there are literally millions of potential voters who shy away from the polls, because of either a lack of information, or a lack of belief in the system. There are ways to fix this, we're positive, but those solutions seem to be years away.

9. No celebrity arrests
Wouldn't it be lovely for an entire year to go by without a single celebrity arrested for drug use/abuse, reckless driving, child endangerment, or any of the other multitudes of things we've seen them arrested for? Of course, if they don't get arrested, what on earth can The National Enquirer or Star possibly cover?

8. United States no longer world's protector
With this, we're not saying that the US shouldn't have a role in helping the global community reach new levels of peace. What we are saying is that it would be nice for the United States to stop acting as sheriff, judge, jury, executioner, and embittered loved one all at the same time in every corner of the planet. Of course, given that position that we've put ourselves in globally for decades, the impact of us taking such a stance any time soon would be more harmful than helpful.

7. Middle East achieves lasting peace accord
This is a total pipe dream. Too many people with clashing extremist views in too confined of an area will keep the region boiling and surging. As long as there are more than two nations in the Middle East, there will most likely be conflict. And yes, this is exacerbated by the involvement of other nations.

6. Steroids legalized for professional athletes
We don't actually advocate the usage of these performance-enhancing drugs, especially to help someone cheat at a game that pays them more for 15 minutes than the average worker sees in a year. However, it's become fairly obvious that steroid usage is wide-spread, and isn't going away. Instead of trying to figure out exactly who cheated and how they affected the game, let everyone cheat to once again balance the playing field. Give them the choice, and educate them on the risks, and stop making Congress deal with it.

5. Writer's strike ends; Scripted television stronger than ever
We would love to see the WGA strike end, largely because we really do feel for the writers who are struggling. As a side benefit to this strike ending, we could theoretically see a greater demand for scripted television, forcing reality programming to fall by the wayside. Hey, we can dream, can't we?

4. Oscars clock in under 2 hours
Admittedly, this dream headline doesn't really mesh with the one just above it. But there's only so many forced jokes and uncomfortable pairings that we can take in one night. Condense the show to under 2 hours, remove most of the banter between presenters (or, gasp, let the host be the presenter), and save the extreme self-congratulation for the SAG awards.

3. "American Idol" gets no viewers
Everyone that watched this show regularly complained that the show was a mockery of itself last year with the success of Sanjaya. Prove it by not tuning in. Oh, and for those who will still watch, here's a quick preview. Randy will say nothing of any importance, Paula will be incoherent, and Simon will verbally emasculate every single performer, so that he can bathe in their tears.

2. Christmas Season starts in mid-to-late November
We love the holidays. We're just a little tired of seeing them encroach on other months. At this point, we half-expect to see Santa Claus holding a flag for Labor Day.

1. "Insert Name of Stupid or Foolish Incident Here"
Alright. This one actually has a really good potential for coming true. After all, there will never be a lack of headlines such as "Man Attempts to Outrun Police While on Segway", or "Thief Sues After Broken Glass Cuts Foot". And we wouldn't have it any other way. After all, if those headlines didn't exist, then what would we have to make fun of?

Oh, that's right. There will always be soundbites.

And that wraps up Day Two in our collection of lists. We'll be skipping our weekly awards tomorrow, of course, to continue our collection of lists, but we'll see if we can't throw a bone out to our readers in some way. After all, if it wasn't for you, we would just be writing to ourselves.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Year End - Part One

Well, folks, it's that time of year again. The time where the Web becomes flush with lists of all sorts. Most of them are looks back at the previous calendar. A few others are looks ahead. And then there's always that group of sites that compose a list with an attempt to remain relevant, even while pushing aside their normal content.

But not us. Sure, we're bowing to the pressure of the end of December, and we'll be spending the next week or so concocting lists. But that doesn't mean that we're going to try to be relevant. For further proof, just keep reading.

Top Ten Websites We Hope To Never See
There are a lot of websites out there, with a ton of content that we never truly expected to see the light of day. There are even more sites that are copy-cats, taking a tried and true platform and trying to twist it to their own perspective. Here, we've taken some time to compile a list of sites that we hope won't ever surface. If they already exist, we're glad that we haven't found them. If they get created because of this, well, don't blame us. We're just the messengers.

10. MeTube
Sure, there are more than a few ways to share videos online, but none are quite as popular as YouTube. Still, imagine a website where all you can watch are online videos of one person. Just one individual, over and over again, naturally with that "hilarious" clip of the party where a table got broken. It would be like watching vacation videos, only without any sense of purpose.

9. We Told You So
Few things do smarmy quite as well as the Web. But will we ever reach a point where an entire website is devoted to people saying that they knew more than you? Of course, it could launch an entirely new form of bullying (previously only seen on playgrounds and FOXNews).

8. The Secret Life of Dust
Oh wow. A webcam set up to watch one area. An area that never, ever gets dusted. We could finally learn the secrets hidden within dust bunnies. And yes, we're yawning a bit at the concept, too.

7. Ant-astic!
This one could actually go hand-in-hand with TSLoD, except focusing on ants. Great for researchers too squeamish to get into the field, but, well, for the rest of us? It's freakin' ants.

6. The Wit and Wisdom of Sherri Shepherd
She doesn't know if the world is flat, what "B.C." means, or why she shouldn't hit her children in public. She's a co-host on The View. And there could be an entire web page devoted to her wisdom. It would look a lot like the blue screen of death, but more annoying and vapid.

5. Digest-o-Cam
We're not sure if this would be a camera from inside of a stomach, or just footage of the end result. Either way, we want to see this even less than we want to see a Carrot Top career revival.

4. Spell-checking the Web
Actually, this one isn't a half-bad idea, but we'd be afraid of landing there ourselves. The concept? A group of people with nothing better to do search through websites for misspellings, and then post corrected versions of the sites on their page. They would never run out of potential content.

3. "How to..." by OJ Simpson
Think of all the things you could learn. Better yet, don't think about all the things you could learn from O.J. and focus instead on finishing that grocery list. It's a better usage of time.

2. Sumo Wrestlers Jumping on Trampolines
Certain people shouldn't ever be on a trampoline. And, if they ever are, there shouldn't be video proof of these events. An entire website devoted to actual sumo wrestlers on trampolines would just be frightening. Not because of the wrestlers... we fear for the trampolines.

1. Dick Cheney's LOL Cats
Alright. We admit that this one is partially listed here because we're a little tired of seeing pictures of cats (or other animals) with horrible captions. We also admit that a couple of them are amusing. But would anyone really want to see an kitten inside of a stomach, complete with the caption, "Gastric juices? Do not want!" or "Invisible heart"? We don't think so.

Come back tomorrow, to see what other lists we can create, as we continue to succumb to Yearendlistitis.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of December 17, 2007

Well, it's the end of the week for us, and that means that we're here with another round of the Coffee-Soaked Awards. Given that it's been a short week for us, we'll just get this ball rolling. Especially given the high likelihood of not being able to make a return until next Wednesday. So let's get started.

You Give Up the Crown Award
Last year, Time magazine declared "You" the person of the year, for many reasons, not the least of which was a sad marketing ploy and an attempt to seem edgy. This year, they've actually chosen a person to receive the title, and that person is Vladimir Putin. Time was quick to make note that the selection was not an endorsement of any sort, but merely a "clear-eyed recognition of the world as it is", and, obviously, Putin is a high-level power. Meanwhile, You has retreated to a dismal corner, realizing that it didn't do much other than munch on Doritos and stare at video screens during their year, feats made even paler by Putin's ability to direct Russia back to a world power, all while maintaining his physique.

Should Have Broken the Mold Award
Jamie Lynn Spears, the little sister of Britney, seemed like she was going to take a different route than her older sibling. In her effort to set herself apart as different from her sister, she appeared on Nickelodeon (as opposed to Britney's Disney), and, instead of waiting for a couple of sham marriages, she's announced that she's pregnant. At 16. The mother of the two Spears girls was originally going to have a book on parenting released, but the book has been delayed, presumably to quickly remove chapters discussing children and sex.

Prepare for the Oral Exam Award
There are many different ways to earn extra credit in math class. There are even more ways to offer said extra credit. And, of course, there's at least one good way to make your offer that could result in prison time. Thankfully, the teacher didn't later insist on a cram session.

Pray for the Pavement Award
When looking for a scenic getaway in 2008, might we suggest taking a trip on a supposed "Holy Highway"? That highway, Interstate 35, runs from Minnesota to Texas, and has been proclaimed as being a holy area by a group of evangelical Christians, who go so far as to claim that the road was prophesied in the book of Isaiah and its status is part of incidents such as the bridge collapse and the JFK assassination. Opponents to the concept feel that those praying for the highway could do more good by feeding the hungry or helping the homeless. Still others are keeping quiet about Route 66.

I Saw Mommy Groping Santa Claus Award
A Connecticut Santa got a little more than he bargained for when a 33-year-old woman sat on his lap, groped him, and then hobbled away on her crutches. While there are many cases of May-December romances, this is kind of ridiculous. After all, that's why they have Santa's Helpers around.

Baby, It's Cold Outside Award
We've mocked science a few times in the past (we can't really help it. Sometimes they make it so darned easy). Recently, however, thanks to science, we now know definitively whether or not a tongue will stick to a flagpole, and why. They are now delving into the mystery of whether or not you really will shoot your eye out with a BB gun.

You May Now Flush the Bride's Gown Award
We know that weddings are expensive. We know that, for a lot of people, they end up buying one item that they'll never wear again, whether it's the dress, a suit, or that special pair of underwear that ends up bringing back memories of an ill-advised romp in the coat room. A wedding in Times Square (specifically in a Times Square restroom) was performed, cutting costs on the space, all while the bride was resplendent in a dress made of toilet paper. This may become the first bridal gown in history to be used multiple times, but only for one wedding and/or costume party.

Your Security is Too Dangerous Award
A Rugby woman who has been victimized in the past by burglars thought that she could take some precautions to prevent further break-ins. Unfortunately, she was told by the police to not put up additional security, because it could harm the criminals. Instead of things like barbed wire and a security gate, the police suggested the use of alarms, all while handing her a manual full of crime-fighting tips. In related news, it's only a matter of time before a dark figure makes their way through Rugby at night, a masked vigilante armed only with their wit, guile, and trusty burglar alarms.

And that wraps up our awards for this week, and our standard postings for this year. Oh, we've got some more ideas up our sleeves, but, as we mentioned last week, the week before we begin 2008 will be marked by our personal take on the blogging tradition (and VH1 tradition) of Top Lists. But don't worry. We can't possible make those normal. Happy Holidays, and we'll catch you next week. Stay safe out there.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

CEOs are real people, too?

Welcome to a special MythBusters-themed installment of the CSM! Jamie and Adam can't be here today, largely because we're fairly certain that they don't even know we exist, but we are going to take some inspiration from them in discussing today's news story.

The first "myth" that we're going to examine is whether or not CEOs are paid too much money.

Well, we would do some experiments here, in order to come to a good conclusion, but we're just going to skip ahead to the results. And, in most cases, our myth is proven, which we're sure shocks just a couple of people out there. True, there are top executives who are paid exactly appropriately for their workload, the type of business that they run, etc. But there are also those who proceed to rake in large profits and larger stock options, while their employees struggle to make ends meet. So yes, in many cases, saying that CEOs get paid too much money is akin to saying that the government passes laws.

Now that we've cleared the air with that, let's move on to our next myth. The subject of our second "myth", and the root story for our post today, is that there are actually CEOs out there who agree that top executives get paid too much.

This is where it gets interesting. In a recent study, almost two-thirds of CEOs polled believe that their own compensation is too high. Naturally, this is lower than the number of average employees who feel the same thing, but that fact that over half admitted to it in an online poll definitely shines some interesting light onto the whole issue. In fact, the numbers could be used by executives to claim that they are actually burdened by how much money they get paid, and if only they could truly experience at least one month of living paycheck to paycheck. But no, they are merely cogs in the machine, who have been forced to accept lavish gifts, high wages, and inflated stock options merely because of their titles.

Of course, we can't expect that any of these CEOs who have claimed to feel overcompensated to adjust and correct their own wages accordingly. If asked, they would probably claim that they were beholden to whatever their particular board of directors decided their wages should be. And, we think it's safe to assume, if their compensation was brought back into line with what the majority would deem "appropriate", a fair number of them just might depart for greener pastures.

There are also those cynics out there who would believe that CEOs would answer this poll in such a way to help them look better in the eyes of the average worker, without actually meaning what they claimed. Of course, the curtain of anonymity keeps any true motives from being discovered.

And that's exactly why we will refer to this "myth" as plausible. It's not like the myth revolved around whether politicians will voluntarily accept less pay.

That's been categorically busted a number of times.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Well, nobody likes Monday

The last time we made mention of a family deciding to name a child something, only to see them stopped by their local governments, we were detailing the story of young "4real". And, well, there's just no good reason that the parents should have been allowed to follow through with their wishes, although their second choice, "Superman", wasn't much better. If only that family had lived in Italy, where they wouldn't have needed to worry about an alternate name. It would have been chosen for them.

After all, that's what happened to an Italian couple who were looking to name their child "Friday". Because, in Italy, when the courts feel that the name chosen could lead to a lifetime of teasing, possible difficulties in establishing friendships, and a potential lawsuit from an American chain restaurant, it's clear that neither the wishes of the parents nor the opinion of the baptising priest should play into it. The boy's new name? Gregory, as he was born on the feast day for the Saint. And we all know that there's no possible way for people to make fun of the name "Gregory" (and yes, we happen to know some very nice Gregory's, but that's besides the point).

Given that the Italian courts were able to do this to young Friday, is there a chance that such powers could come across the pond? More specifically, could the Hollywood elite (who seem to have an addiction to naming their children some of the most bizarre names possible) be affected by such a ruling? As the couple themselves point out, the chances of this name-change happening to a richer, more famous family are fairly slim, but we can hold out hope. After all, we were a little off-kilter when we heard names like Apple (Paltrow), Audio Science (Sossamon), and Alcamy (Henricksen), and we're actively fearful as to what the newest babies being born into Hollywood will be named. Of course, after Nic Cage's child, Kal-El, there are few names that could reach the same levels of bizarre and nerdy, so there's a small comfort.

It really could have been worse. The couple could have named their child Sunday. And since we know that everyone rests on Sunday....

Yeah, we're a little ashamed we went there, too.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The war at home

Here in America, we find ourselves at war all the time. If we're not engaged in something like the War in Iraq, then we're fighting a Cold War. In lieu of that (or when it stops holding our full interest), we begin the War on Drugs. And then, of course, in the last few years, we've had the War on Christmas, which, while we can't be sure, probably involves shooting dreidels and pagan stars at images of Santa and the Nativity Scene.

Naturally, these little "Wars" are propagated so that we can continue to feel as though there's something being done, even when there doesn't need to be. After all, we don't really think there's much danger of Christmas being eradicated, and we know that drugs will still be around no matter how long we fight that battle. Given the nature behind a lot of these little, less important (and theoretically less fatal) wars, it should come as no surprise to anyone that politicians and talking heads generally have a hand in helping spread the message about how we need to mobilize. And who better to fill that gap between the two disparate groups than former White House Press Secretary, Tony Snow. After all, if it wasn't for the Snowjob, we wouldn't be aware that we are currently embroiled in a "War on God".

Wait. Wait just a minute. A war on God? Seriously? Does Tony Snow (or anyone else for that matter) truly believe that America as a whole is in danger of eradicating the Judeo-Christian deity? Or that we're a couple of unbaptised children away from the entire religion being erased from our day-to-day lives? While we admit that it's been awhile since we perused the Bible, we're fairly certain that only two entities can ever actually participate in a war on God. Those two concepts? Satan and the Antichrist. That's about it. Never mind that, if you believe that God had a hand in your creation, and the creation of everyone else, and that He then imparted free will to us, it was obviously so that we could make choices such as these, determining how our belief and faith made the most sense and the most personal impact.

What could possibly be next? A "War on Stupidity"? Oh, wait... we need politicians, and, with the writer's strike ongoing, someone has to be willing to appear in our reality television programming.

But hey, at least we're not hunting Nessie.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of December 10, 2007

Welcome to another Friday. This week has seen people across much of the nation experience a deep freeze, while here at the CSM we've been working on developing potential new slogans. What can we say? We're used to the cold, and it just gets our brains working. But enough about the cold... we've got awards to dish out.

Working Overtime Award
There have been a lot of criticisms of government over the last few years, especially with regards to the vacation schedules that they hold themselves to. Well, partially in a way to stymie GDub, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is contemplating the idea of keeping Senate open over their usual Christmas-New Year break (which extends until almost February in most years). Reid has recently been spotted with a small dog wearing antlers, and rumors abound that there may be a way to make his heart grow.

A Red-Suit Wearing Grinch Award
Speaking of Grinches, it appears that there may be more out there than just Sen. Reid. Someone has been responding to some of the letters delivered to Canada's "Santa" with nasty letters. The content of the letters is unknown, but we do note that Billy Bob Thornton hasn't been seen in awhile. And yes, this is a surefire way to get put onto a naughty list.

That's Exactly What We Needed Award
Continuing our semi-Christmas theme, are you still looking for the perfect gift for that hard-to-buy-for person on your list? Well, there's not a lot of help this year, but in a few years, you too may be able to purchase your very own cloned glow-in-the-dark cat. There is hope that causing the mutation will help with repairing genetic defects in humans eventually. Meanwhile, these cats are not allowed to play the favorite game of felines the world over, which is, of course, tripping people in the dark of night.

It's Like Shooting Plastic Fish Award
Who knew that there was a competition in Australia to see who could throw a fish the furthest? Alright, put your hands down, everyone that watches way too much ESPN17. Well, it turns out that, in an effort to go green, the fish are being replaced with replicas. Hopefully the use of replicas will not deter people who enjoy grabbing something slimy with both hands, only to see how far they can hurl it. This should also allow more people to eat at the post-toss fish fry.

Stay in the Car, and Ignore the Pole Award
What's the best way to keep your child from finding out that you work as an exotic dancer? If you suggested leaving the kid in the car while you buy costume pieces at Target, you're wrong. After all, it could easily lead to the police finding the child and a charge of child neglect. Our only question? Since when did Target sell stripper costumes (outside of Halloween)?

Um, Ouch Award
There are many dangers involved with public urination. Some of those dangers revolve around electric fences or charged rail tracks. Others roam towards embarrassment. But it's certainly uncommon to find that a puppy has decided to use you as a chew toy while you're trying to void your bladder. We're fairly certain that the man involved in the incident will check all holes for small animals in the future.

Stick the First Amendment Up Your Award
It seems like challenges to the concept of free speech pop upon a semi-regular basis. However, we never thought that we'd see someone facing charges for swearing. Especially when said swearing, while loud, was also happening within the confines of their own home. Besides, the woman was swearing at an overflowing toilet, and who hasn't done that at least once? Heck, sometimes we swear at the toilet just because it gives us a laugh.

And that wraps up our awards for this week. Unlike the Senate, we're definitely taking a vacation, so look for the awards next week on Thursday, as we take a bit of a break starting on Friday. And the following week we'll be here with our Top Lists. If you missed last year's, we promise that this year's will be mostly different. We'll see you on Monday. Stay safe out there.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Warning: May Contain Sarcasm

As a society, partially due to our overwhelming desire to sue people for damages regardless of whether or not we knew of the danger (we recall the coffee lawsuit), we have become infatuated with warning labels. It seems like every time we turn around, a new warning label is being created, ranging from the logical to the insane. After all, did we really need to be given a heads-up that our coffee may be hot? And, thanks to California, we now know that people there have found that drinking paint may be hazardous to our health.

Thankfully, there is a Wacky Warning Label Contest that's been happening recently, to help illustrate some of the bizarre warning labels that people discover. This year's winner, placed on a small tractor, is the simple and sublime "Danger: Avoid Death". Well, heck, if we hadn't been warned that we should avoid death, we might go out of our way to pursue it. Thank goodness there's a warning label.

Some of the other top selections included instructions for a t-shirt iron-on suggesting that people not iron the shirt while it's being worn, or a helpful suggestion to not place a baby inside of a storage bag for a stroller. Meanwhile, we're just wondering where the warning label trend will reach its conclusion.

For instance, is it too ridiculous to believe that we may see warning labels on ladders stating, "Caution: Ladder Will Take You Off Ground"? Or how about a warning for a telephone reading, "Warning: May Lead to Offensive Conversations"? Or how about our personal favorite potential warning label, reserved for CBS programming, "Danger: May Cause Severe Drowsiness".

Of course, if we continue in this vein, it will really only be a matter of time before we see a warning label attached to the Presidential podium, with the statement, "Warning: May Cause Drastic Shift in World's Perceptions". That's a warning label whose time has come.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Fighting the good fight

People will have multiple reactions to seeing a crime in progress. Some will step in to try to stop the events from unfolding, others will contact the police and attempt to maintain visual contact, and still more will turn their heads and continue on their way, not wanting to get involved. Of those that directly step in, they have their own reasons. While many may come from some sort of law enforcement background, there are those who simply want to help out a fellow human being in need. And, of course, let's not discount those among us who would rather spend their days as costumed vigilantes.

But another, more interesting reason for stopping a crime might just be because you want to see how it will look on YouTube.

That's pretty much the reasoning behind why a New Jersey Dunkin' Donuts clerk smashed a mug against a robber's head. He wasn't concerned about the loss of money, be he certainly didn't want to be caught on the store surveillance camera turning tail and hiding in the back room. In fact, he even believes that releasing the video on YouTube will help show the robber who's boss. After all, why else would he say, "There are only a few videos like that on YouTube now, so mine's going to be the best"?

Some people may say that simply stopping the thief from getting away with more than the $90 he did secure should be thanks enough for the donut-seller, but those people obviously have forgotten about the lure of online video sharing. When people are more than willing to make complete fools of themselves and distribute the video online (something previously only done with the hopes of monetary compensation from America's Funniest Home Videos), it's actually somewhat refreshing to know that, once the police have finished with the tape, we'll be able to watch an act of heroism, even if said act was coming from a place lacking total altruism.

Perhaps this could lead YouTube in a different direction. Instead of watching people in pain or humiliation, we may be able to turn to that web site and find examples of some of the goodness that lurks within so many human spirits. If that happens, there's really only one thing we can possibly say to that.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Go think about what you've done

Often, it feels as though we've gotten lazy. When we look overseas for a story that's just right for us, we tend to find our vision straying directly towards Germany. And why not? They've got a wealth of crazy over there, and, well, sometimes we take our schadenfreude by viewing the country that invented the term. If Germany falls by the wayside, we tend to look at England, enthralled with their crisp dialect.

But not today. Today, we find ourselves turning our sights to Wales (yes, we know it's almost England, but it counts, darnit), and the exploits of a certain shoplifter there. Well, to be honest, it's not so much about what this said shoplifter did, as it is about what the judicial system did to him. After all, with 71 previous convictions, he pretty much did what comes naturally, although the beer in the pants was a nice flourish to round out attempt number 72.

However, when it came time for sentencing, local magistrates near Shotton, North Wales decided that there was still a chance for the man to turn his life around, and suspended his sentence.

That speaks to a certain level of trust within the Welsh magistrate. Or, possibly, it speaks to a very convincing plea from the shoplifter himself. After all, in many areas of the US, some sort of a "three strikes" rule exists. For this man, he's looking at the prospect of 73 strikes leading to a modicum of jail time.

Heck, the only other people who get to make the same mistakes over 70 times and not receive more than a slap on the wrist are politicians.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A reason to fear, and a reason to hope

We know that there may be a fair number of our readers that never got the chance to see Idiocracy, a recent film about, for lack of a better term, the dumbing down of America (one can assume that the rest of the world is along for the ride, too, but we only see America). This isn't horribly surprising, as the film was relatively buried, and is slowly working its way towards cult status (oddly, the same type of progression that director Mike Judge's previous film, Office Space, followed).

What is surprising (although it probably shouldn't be) is that FOX, the studio that made a point of backing the film only to later bury its chances at the box office, is now working with Redux Beverages (the makers of Cocaine) to produce a new energy drink. That's right, folks. Before long, you too will be able to drink Brawndo and "win at yelling".

We won't go into the details of the film, least of all the portions about Brawndo, but we do have to wonder somewhat about the thought process behind this. After all, creating a product off of a movie isn't new. Creating a product that is heralded in said movie as being one of the reasons behind the steady downfall of civilization seems like either the most brilliant, or the most foolish, marketing ploy in the history of commercialism. Either way, we can rest easy with the knowledge that our thirst can be mutilated. After all, "It's got electrolytes."

But there is hope. According to scientists, our brains actually have a way to help filter information such as the creation of Brawndo, Paris Hilton, and Regis Philbin out of our subconscious. Linked to memory, a sort of "irrelevance filter" exists, helping to weed out distractions and allowing us to focus on more of the important elements of life. If only E! and VH1 had the same sort of filters.

Meanwhile, we're pretty happy that they haven't found an irreverence filter. If they do, we're out of a job.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Coffee-Soaked Awards - Week of December 3, 2007

Welcome in from the cold. Winter came with a fury to the Upper Midwest, and, we would guess, other portions of the nation as well. With the new developments of cold and snow, at least where we've got our fingers curled around our coffee mugs, we're looking for reasons to stay inside and huddle underneath blankets. Not that we're finding a whole lot, but we're looking. So while we continue to look, let's get these awards going.

We're Not Gonna Protest Award
Well, we can't be certain that there won't be protests, but we are certain that certain reviews of The Golden Compass have taken some of the wind out of their sails. But that's what happens when Christian writers review a movie based on a book written by a noted atheist and give it good markings. Our suspicion is that, in the few frames Nicole Kidman's face actually moves, you can see an image of the Virgin Mary.

Don't Know Much About History Award
Some people really don't understand higher level concepts, which is just fine. There are plenty of concepts that we don't really get, either. But when you're a talking head (admittedly, for "The View"), you should probably take a moment to study up on the concept of B.C. Thankfully, not many people with a firm grip on reality watch "The View" anyway, so there's little danger of such misconceptions being spread.

All The News That Fits Award
News is coming to us that Gennifer Flowers (once a mistress of Bill Clinton's) is considering voting for Hillary in the upcoming election. She is even quoted as wanting to "support (her) own gender". Given her intimate knowledge of the Clintons, it's.... wait. Wait, we just can't do it. How the heck did this become news?

Less on the Truth, but a Lot of Swearing Award
When you are thinking of what gift to get your potentially-criminally-minded teenager this year (and seriously, aren't they a little criminally-minded?), consider getting them an mp3 player with a record feature. Why? Because one teen recorded an interrogation, to later play back during a trial where the detective claimed to have never questioned the suspect. Lt. Frank Drebin was unavailable for comment. Other recordings on the player? Selections by "The Killers" and "Black Rebel Motorcycle Club".

I'll Clear My Own Drive Way Award
It seems like stories involving strange happenings with vehicles will never reach an end. There are the people who attempt to outrun the police in their tractors. There's the folks who try to have sex with bicycles. And then there's the guy who decided to carjack a snow plow. No reason was given as to why the attempt was made, although we think it may have been a misguided attempt to secure a new Zamboni for the local ice rink.

Stay Classy Award
Most thieves wear sweatshirts, baggy pants, and some sort of unflattering head wear, all the better to disguise their identities. Not this thief, who showed up to steal watches in Los Angeles while wearing a tuxedo. The thief later complained that the watches had no fun gadgets, and that his martini was stirred.

Maybe We Should *hic* Do More Research Award
Oh, the troubles of choosing a mascot, and a logo. Plenty of schools have recently run afoul of Native American tribes, for their somewhat racially slanted imagery. Other organizations have tried to be somewhat weather-centric in their naming. And then there are the teams that stick with concepts (listen, we're fans, here, but Minnesota Wild? What exactly is a Wild? It's an adjective, although it can also be a noun) just to stay safe. But Killian Middle School in Lewisville, TX chose to be bold, and designed a logo that seems strangely influenced by Killian's Irish Red. The school is now considering whether or not to change their logo, with new ideas of a harp or a crown being looked into.

And that does it for our awards this week. We'll see you next week, provided we thaw ourselves out enough to type. Stay safe out there.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Seemed like a good idea...

Yesterday we talked about Santa, and his habits. Today, we turn our attention to people's yard decorations, including one family in Louisiana that decided to try and stir the pot a little.

See, they weren't content to simply let their house be yet another holiday-themed monstrosity, with blinking lights, garish plastic scenes, and a serious lack of tongue-in-cheek nature. So they took matters into their own hands, and crafted some special decorations, using wooden cutouts.

The decorations have caused a bit of an uproar though. It seems that people aren't all that keen on the idea of Santa taking aim at Rudolph with a rifle.

While the family wanted to try and different take on the Christmas season, others don't necessarily feel that way. Apparently, the thought of Santa slaying his own reindeer, especially the "most famous reindeer of all", brings something other than holiday cheer to mind. Never mind that perhaps the jolly old elf might be intrigued by the taste of venison.

Of course, from our perspective, the most glaring problem with the decoration is not the rifle-toting Santa. It's not even the severe lack of white powder on the ground (flour will do in a pinch, for you home decorators out there). It's the concept that Santa may be gunning down Rudolph. Sure, Mr. Claus is not one to enjoy sharing the spotlight, which is why months before Christmas, we're met with his image, and not images of the concept that the holiday was created for. But we just can't see him having that fragile of an ego that he'd be willing to eliminate the only hope he has of seeing his way through dense clouds and snow storms during his appointed rounds.

Now Comet or Prancer, on the other hand. Those two are just dead weight on the team.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Giving Santa the pink slip

Today's story is actually a follow-up to a previous story that we chose not to cover. After all, we pretty much figured that a large portion of the blogging world would end up covering (and mocking endlessly) the concept of Australian Santas being told to say "Ha ha ha" instead of "Ho ho ho", out of a fear of offending women (specifically those that might in some cases be referred to by such a two-word moniker). Well, the first fall-out from this ruling has happened, at least according to the Santa in question.

That's right. According to news coming out of Australia, a Santa in Canberra was fired, ostensibly for saying "Ho ho ho", and for singing Christmas carols to children. Understandably, the company that has let Santa go is claiming that it had more to do with the costumers attitude than his holiday spirit.

Still, the overall ruling, and the possibility that the man was later fired for doing what Santa has done for decades (if not longer) raises some interesting questions. After all, it's not like the slang for "whore" is a new word to anyone speaking English. And, well, if Santa isn't allowed to sing Christmas carols (a fair number of which mention him by name), then who on Earth is? It's not like we've got people lined up to dress like Jesus and sing "What Child is This?". And nobody makes figgy pudding anymore.

So, while we can't begin to determine the exact reasons behind this particular Santa being giving the old heave-ho (or would that be heave-ha now?), we can suggest that possibly restricting this Jolly Old Elf in such a way might be fairly nonsensical. After all, if you're worried about Santa Claus offending people, then maybe the first thing you should look at is the proliferation of his image starting around August. That's far more offensive than an off-key rendition of "Jolly Old St. Nick" or a couple of mentions of "ho".

Even with all of this, we're left with one final question. When Santa's fired, is it really more of a red slip?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Science to the rescue!

Alright. We don't really want to make a habit of this, but the last two days have provided us with stories that we just couldn't pass up. Unfortunately, once again, our chosen target is the scientific community.

Look, before you get up in arms about all the good things that scientists have done for us, we want it to be clear that we don't dispute any of that for a moment. We greatly appreciate all of the good things that they've given us, from cleaner air to softer clothes to better tasting hamburgers. But when they discover that caffeine isn't as effective as sleep, as they did in yesterday's story, we start to wonder if maybe there aren't better things for them to research. Obviously, after today's story, they still haven't found those better things.

But judge for yourselves. After all, maybe it really is important that science has helped us discover that teenage passengers are distracting, especially to teenage drivers.

Really, there's just no way that we could have possibly seen the end result of such a study (alright, we wouldn't have been able to guess at the numbers to help prove the research, but we knew the concept in advance). Aside from having ever seen teenagers, let alone teenagers without direct adult supervision, how could one possibly postulate that, perhaps, a penchant for horseplay and/or cell-phone shenanigans could lead to a distracted young driver. Especially given that said driver would only be in his first couple of years behind the wheel, and a bit rambunctious themselves without adult supervision to reign in their actions.

We're starting to wonder if, possibly, our ideas are being taken seriously, instead of jokes as they are meant to be. If that's the case, then we might want to suggest that a study be conducted regarding how people perceive things such as sarcasm, irony, and social commentary. Thankfully, it's not like they did research to show that divorce is bad for the environment.

Oh, they did, did they?

Alright. We're going to go back to bed. Wake us up when science stops being so irrelevant.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Say it ain't so

Those wacky scientists. They get paid all kinds of money to research a wealth of different things, ranging all over the place in importance. But a recent study was conducted with some results that could be seen as surprising only to those people who also believe that the world is not flat but inverted, or that the oxygen is toxic to the human respiratory system.

Yep. If it wasn't for scientists, we never would have discovered that taking a nap is more refreshing than drinking regular coffee. We also never would have known that both are better at keeping people alert than drinking something without caffeine.

Thanks, science! We were really confused on that one. We could have sworn that, if we wanted to be at our most alert and upbeat, we should actually avoid sleep, and start injecting caffeine directly into our veins. Heck, we also thought that blending doughnuts into a thick sugary shake would provide the desired result.

What's next? Are we going to discover that towels and warm areas are good for people that are cold and wet, and work much better than standing around in air conditioning? How about sunglasses not being as effective as closing your eyes when light is too bright in your general vicinity? And what about the concept that being awake will actually help you get more done than being asleep?

Boy, science, with tough questions like these, we expect that you'll probably be up all night long, trying to figure out which one to tackle. But remember, thanks to you, we now know that getting some sleep will be better for mental alertness than drinking coffee. And where would we be without results like these?

Now, if you don't mind us, we're headed to Starbucks.