Friday, October 29, 2010

Blogspot Banter: Post Card A Day

Our final installment of Blogspot Banter (and, I add parenthetically, the final installment of this blog all together) comes from Post Card A Day, a blog that is exactly how it sounds: A site that displays a post card each day. We wanted to get a bit if international flare into the equation, and there really couldn't have been a better blog to center such a thing around. To see what all this is about, we encourage you to click here.

Much like each of our other Blogspot Banter subjects, this particular blog was named a Blog Of Note. And, much like each of our other Blogspot Banter subjects, the blog has hundreds of followers, something we, even on our way out, will never be able to claim. The Los Angeles Times has given the blog coverage, and, more important than any of this, it's simply a neat idea for a blog. Really. It is.

Below, you will find answers to how important a comments section can actually be for a blog that doesn't lend itself to commenters because of its simple nature, the nature of networking and the entire notion of making a career out of blogging (not the best idea, she says). We sincerely hope you've had as much fun reading these things as much as we've had putting them together, and again, if there is one last thing you do before navigating your way away from this particular site forever, be sure to check out Post Card A Day. You won't regret it!

Q: How long have you had the A Post Card A Day blog? Can you explain what the main focus of your blog is and what inspired you to begin this particular blog? We think it's a really neat idea for a blog, but is there a particular audience you are trying to reach with the topics you cover on your blog?

A: I've had the blog since March 2008, or thereabouts, but I can't for the life of me remember my thought processes at the time. Postcards, that's all it is, postcards. Some old, some new. Some from home, some from far away. All I was doing was making a record of the postcards I had, maybe to share them but that was a side issue. Looking back at the earlier entries, it seems to me they're all or almost all ones my father collected. Originally my audience was myself. When I realised other people did appear to be interested, I started to write a bit more and to make some attempt to widen the appeal by covering as many countries as possible, especially beyond Europe. People are on the whole more interested in seeing places they know and those aren't necessarily the ones I'm interested in.

Q: A Post Card A Day was recently named a Blog of Note by Blogspot. How did it feel to be recognized like that? Did you ever know or think it was coming? What can you attribute to obtaining such status within the Blogspot world?

A: It was both an honour and a shock to be named as a Blog of Note. Of course I was very happy about it, then as I watched my stats I was amazed, then stunned. I was nearly overwhelmed with all the comments and related spam. I had no idea it was coming but I can only assume someone read the LA Times coverage of my blog the weekend before. Or maybe it was the Creative Prose article naming A Postcard a Day as "Wacky Website of the Week" (I was less enthusiastic about that!) All that happened within the space of a few days.

Q: Your blog has over 800 followers, and you seem to have a reach that extends all the way around the world. What advice would you give to a blogger starting out in regards to how to gain readership? Were there any struggles you had to begin with, and how did you overcome them?

A: Gaining readership is slow when you're starting out. Networking is the best way to find readers, but it's a long and slow process. You have to read a lot of blogs and join forums, find some that interest you and hope the interest is returned. I've noticed the vast majority of people who've left comments since APAD became a Blog of Note have just started blogging, so that's obviously one way. I will visit their blogs at least once, and follow if they seem interesting. I can't really say that I've had too many struggles. I had no great expectations when I started out. Now though, I feel I have some sort of standard to maintain though I've no idea what that is. My struggles may be about to start.

Q: This blog appears to be something you enjoy doing for fun. What is it you do as a profession (if you don't mind us asking), and how do you balance a career and blogging - especially with the demand of posting a postcard a day can bring? Would you ever consider trying to make blogging an entire career, or just a hobby? If just a hobby - why just a hobby? If a career - what extra steps would you take?

A: I do enjoy blogging and it is for fun. I'm not formally employed now, though I was when I started. It isn't so difficult to appear to post every day because I schedule the posts. I generally do at least a week's worth at a time. Make a career out of it? I don't think so, I don't think it's possible these days.

Q: How important is the comments section/rea-dership numbers to you? Is this something that you only find gratification in when you know other people are reading? That said, have you become discouraged and have you ever considered giving up your blog because you thought no one cared/read? If so, how did you overcome those feelings?

A: The comments section is an interesting thing. his blog doesn't really lend itself to commenting very much. What can people say? Mostly just "nice card" or variations on that, but just occasionally I get something great and it makes it all worthwhile. I had a comment on one of my early cards, the Mark Twain Clopper, from someone who had been in the picture 23 years ago. That was exceptional but there have been others. Readers are a different matter and I've become accustomed to watching my stats. It's a great boost to see follower and reader numbers climbing.

Q: How important do you think a name can be when beginning one’s own blog? Did you have designed-minded ideas when you came up with the name of your blog or was it something that all fell together in place? That said, how important do you think a blog’s design is? Is the use of things such as videos and photos essentials to the success of a blog, or do you believe good writing is the key?

A: I think the blog's name is a useful indicator of what to expect but not all-important. The design is more so, because I can't tell you the number of blogs I close as soon as I open if they offend my eyes or even my ears. That said, I'm using a very old basic template and I know it could and should be improved. If I ever do earn any money from it, that will be the first thing I do - pay a designer. Obviously a picture per post is inevitable with my subject matter. I try to strike a balance between the writing and the picture. I don't like a string of postcards with little to say about them but at the same time I don't think people want to read huge chunks of text, no matter how fascinating I think it is.

Quick 5:
Q: What’s your favorite movie?
A: Educating Rita
Q: Favorite food?
A: Chocolate cake
Q: Favorite television show?
A: Masterchef, UK edition
Q: When you are not working or blogging, what do you enjoy doing the most?
A: Walking, photography, reading
Q: What’s your favorite blog?
A: How can I possibly say? I've made some excellent friends over the years and they are all my favourites.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Farewell! How... anti-climactic .

As my blogging better half Colin mentioned on Monday, tomorrow will be the last entry from our little corner of the blogosphere. And how fitting that it will be a Blogspot Banter - the one post per week that requires little-to-no creativity on our part.

I kid, I kid. But seriously.

It's funny... When Colin and I originally talked about starting a blog, I was thinking each of us could post once a week, giving us ample time to develop a witty, fresh, unique perspective on something that a far better writer had previously discussed. Wouldn't you know, a week later he convinced me we need to post twice a day, every day - and I had to fight him to just get weekends off.

Luckily, thanks to my half a dozen years of higher education, during which I mastered both the art AND science of lying (as he so politely put it on Monday), I was able craft a persuasive-enough message to convince Colin that he would be responsible for 85% of the content... but that if we ever put advertisements on the page, we would, of course, split the profits 50/50.

Well, for those who are curious and have actually continued reading up until this point, my name is Frank, and I'm an alcoholic... Not really, but I can see the appeal sometimes. I've got my bachelor's in mass communication and my master's in (are you ready for this) integrated marketing communication. I work in PR and marketing communication for a nonprofit healthcare provider in western PA and, as Colin said, do some freelance magazine writing as well.

I have an awesome, b-e-a-utiful wife named Darcy, two cats named Jimmy and Lydia and an adopted Shepherd/Lab mix named Ginger who we're dogsitting for three years or so while her dad (Darcy's older brother) is serving in Afghanistan. I love Pittsburgh, hate Cleveland and LOVE going on vacation to North Carolina.

Colin and I have played in a few bands together, he as a drummer, myself as a singer. Coincidentally, our partnership in music is much the opposite of this blog - I do most of the work, carry him on my back and do everything I can to keep him motivated. So far, we typically have played power pop kind of stuff, but we'll see what comes next.

I'm not sure how we became best man-friends, but I'm glad we did. It's nice.

What's anti-climactic about my post today, is that Colin was the frontline soldier of this little blog. As the main contributor, he was the face, if you will. I was like the wizard behind the curtain. The silent partner in a business deal. The guy on PTI that wasn't Tony or Michael. And who really cares about that dude anyways?

But for what it's worth, thank you so much for keeping up with us and throwing in your two cents. This was fun, ay?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Hi. My name is.

So, alas all good things must come to an end. Or, well, depending on how you view us, all moderately-OK things must come to an end. That's right, friends. As I alluded to last week, we here at The Unusual Suspects blog are throwing in the towel after seven months of work and over 9,000 hits by various individuals all around this fine world.

To be honest, either of us would have been happy if we knew just nine people would have stumbled across this corner of the blogosphere. So to think that this page has been viewed nearly 10,000 times within almost half a year is something that I can honestly say I'll hold near and dear to the strings of my heart forever (especially when you consider my initial personal goal was somewhere around 3,500 in the first year).

Because we are in complete awe of these particular numbers - and because we wanted to do anything we possibly could to try and convey how happy it makes us to think so many people read our silly ramblings without sending each person a check for 50 cents - we'd like to take a moment to introduce ourselves as we make our way to the door. How self indulgent, you say. And you'd be correct. But having peeked our heads in the comments section now and again to find that some of you may have wondered who we are and where we come from, we thought this was something that has been long overdue, and something you, as the pretty loyal readers you are, deserve.

My name is Colin McGuire. I have been responsible for everything you have seen on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I have also been responsible for every Double Feature you may have read, the Blogspot Banters and yes, every single ...For The Ride Home post. That's me. Working 'round the clock to provide you with links you could find anywhere else, shallow movie reviews on films I haven't seen yet and a glimpse into the everyday trials and tribulations a life such as mine can bring.

Unlike my partner who has his master's degree in lying (or, well, public relations) - and, who I may add will pen his own post surrounding the same type of thing later this week - I went to college to earn degree in journalism. Yes. I know. It's like getting a degree in barista-ology. Him and I both freelance for a couple magazines rooted in, of all things, military actions and the job world. I work a regular job as a Night Editor at a small town newspaper in Pennsylvania and, for the last three years, I've been lucky enough to have a column in said newspaper (so, well, you could call me a "columnist" as well). Finally - and before this sounds too much like a profile - I am an Associate Editor at a Web site called Popmatters, a kind-of-big-deal place that offers CD, movie, book, and anything else reviews, along with interviews, profiles, commentaries, and other such pop culture things. For those interested (though I couldn't imagine any of you are) you can view the work I have done there if you click here.

When we started this blog, we wanted it to be fun, sarcastic, subversive, informational, intelligent and reliable. Whether or not you can associate any of those words with us is still up in the air, but even if we failed miserably, you at least now know what exactly it was we were aiming for. It is for this reason as to why the final thing you will see posted is one last Blogspot Banter set to go live Friday. I always wanted to at least try and provide any possible reader with insight from other, more popular bloggers, and that's why I'm more proud of the Blogspot Banters than anything else I've done for this particular outlet.

So why now, right? Well, to be honest, it's simply become too much. By no means am I complaining at all, but being responsible for as many things as I was when it came to this blog - and considering my natural stubbornness and insistence upon always maintaining at least a semi-professional product with the nature of consistency the features appeared - I have come to acknowledge and realize the amount of time it has taken up in my life. Again, this is no knock on the other half of this operation at all (so please don't perceive this in any such way), but the Rides, and movies, and posts, and interviews honestly began ruling my life for a second or six.

What else? Well, I love evolving. Growing. Maturing. Learning. Our lives are nothing but snapshots. That's all. And sometimes we get lucky enough to catch a perfect night. A perfect relationship. A perfect afternoon. A perfect five minutes. A perfect five days. A perfect five years. And with that said, I've honestly felt as though we have begun the process of spinning our tires in circles. Neither of us could afford to add anything to the already-consuming nature of this project, and, at least from my standpoint, there wasn't too much left to do when it came to this. And I hate that. I felt myself stagnant when it came to this blog, and that was when I knew it was time to semi-gracefully bow out.

So alas, this is my goodbye with the hopes that something new and exciting will be lurking around the corner. I honestly, honestly, and honestly can not thank you guys enough for caring so much as to stop by and check out what we've had to offer. It's been just so much fun, sharing my love for romantic comedies, touching on the intolerance of bullying, corresponding with other bloggers, corresponding with commenters and, of course, meeting people who I would have never, ever come across had I never been involved with this blog.

Thank you. Thank you times infinity. I hope I run into you soon. Somewhere. Somehow. The below video is only added as a final offering. I love her, and I love this record. Really. You ought to check it out. Pretty good. Pretty bitter. Pretty lovely.

But now, for the very last time, and from the absolute deepest and bottomest my heart has ever seen, please don't forget from now until 50 years from now when you think back to that silly little blogspot blog that you used to check out from time to time, please do not forget that....

I'll always love you. I'll always miss you.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Still here...

Hi friends, just a note to say we'll have a full post soon enough. Unfortunately, I have no witty list of reasons why... Just one excuse: I have to get a physical today and I didn't have the chance to get a post ready for your viewing pleasure in advance.

I always feel intimidated before getting a physical - is that normal? I'm under 30, so I still feel like they're kind of pointless, yet I still get butterflies in my stomach when entering the office.

Here's something fun for you - Steeler fans will especially appreciate it, but it's for everyone. Like me. Sort of. Have a great day!

Monday, October 18, 2010

These six things I know are true

1. I spent a lot of time with "Recovery" this weekend. The above video plays a song that literally made me laugh out loud. Damn, he's good.
2. I am going to take a breather from these parts this week. I cannot speak for my better half, though, so you may want to check back Tuesday and Thursday to see what he's got to offer. Though I love you dearly, I have a few things to focus in on this week that have nothing to do with a silly little blog that nobody really reads, anyways. Many reasons are behind that, but none too particularly interesting.
3. There was no Ride Friday, and I apologize for that. The InterWebs crashed and access to such things became non-existent for myself.
4. I had a fabulous weekend.
5. Yes, I know the season finale to "Mad Men" was last night, and because there will clearly be no Ride today, I will be sure to give the entire season/last episode its proper due with a full post - but only if the following doesn't get in the way...
6. I'm not really sure if I'll be back. If such a thing occurs, I will most definitely poke my head in to offer a proper goodbye, and remind you lovely, fantastic, loyal readers that I heart you more than Valentine's Day candy. If such a thing does not occur, then I plan on seeing your pretty virtual faces back here, smiling and shiny one week from today. Either way, because I was unable to be around Friday (and because I will not be around this coming Friday as well), I must remind you once again that though I'll be stepping away from the computer for the next couple days, you can not forget that I love you, miss you!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Double Feature: Red & Hereafter

Each Friday, we will offer up two movies that are scheduled to be released within the accompanying weekend. We know, we know. It’s hard to come across blogs who ever actually get movie talk right. That’s why we won’t say much. A trailer. A paragraph. And boom – all you need to know about what new movies you can take your beautiful object of affection to see this weekend. It's like going to the drive-in movie theater. Remember those? So much fun. Thank us later, not now.


It's an odd week for movies, really. Both this and the below feature are two flicks I probably won't take the time to see in theaters unless if I find myself in a situation that says "Gee, I'd really like to go to the movies today," which is a notion I simply never have the time for these days. And even with that said, when both of these movies inevitably come in the mail through Netflix, I know I won't be excited. But there's something about both of these that I'm attracted to. For this first movie, I think it's safe to say I enjoy pretty much everyone involved here. It seems a bit cheesy, but that's what these sometimes-terrific actors seem to be aiming for more so these days than ever. Helen Miren is still getting it done. Like, really. Getting. It. Done. And we all love Morgan Freeman, right? This movie seems like the perfect fit...for a weekend sitting at home sick in January while the remote control is too far away to reach and change the channel from USA. A couple gags here. A few lines there. Can't fault these dudes for wanting a pay check.


This is a call to the 12 people who read this blog: Can you please, please, please explain to me what this movie is supposed to be about? I don't get it. If you know, please kindly take to the comments section with thoughts and information. I know this is a limited release this week, but it's about to go wide, and when it does, people will flock to it as though Matt Damon is starring in it and Clint Eastwood is directing it. Oh, wait. Why I'm skeptical: "Invictus" wasn't really that good, and not only does this feature the same star and the same 80-year-old director, but it also features the same behind-the-scenes crew. Why I'm curious: Matt Damn is simply lovely. He was on David Letterman's talk show earlier this week and was utterly charming. I can't think of a movie I've seen him in that I've hated. "The Informant!" and Invictus" are two that weren't all that good, but hate is not a word that's applicable. Another wait for DVD situation? Sure. That is, unless if one of you can tell me what the hell is going on here.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

...For The Ride Home: CNN beats Fox News at something, Perez Hilton is a bully and more Brett Favre, of course

This is your official reminder that the best show on television these days is going to do something unprecedented tonight: Broadcast a live show. That's right. "30 Rock" is going all "SNL" on us, and it's going to have a go at live television. I eagerly await this, though I have no idea if I'll actually be able to see it as it's happening, and that upsets me. It should be interesting, though. In any case, hello Thursday. How do you do? I got a good workout in this morning, though I feel as though there was more to do. I hate that type of feeling when you are coming home from the gym, don't you? Oh, you do? Good. We have something in common. Tomorrow marks the final day of the week, and the final day before a weekend that is supposed to be "fun" for me. But never invest too much into one thing, friends. You never quite know how it could turn out. Before the weekend comes, though, we must tread our way through today, and today means a few links for you to consider before you can finally let loose on the days that matter most. We sincerely hope you enjoy at least two of the following and from the bottom of our bottomest hearts, we hope you have a fantastic Thursday evening.

A round-up of what everybody has said about the Brett Favre situation. It’s worth a look. (Deadspin)

A documentary about dubstep. I foresee this in my Netflix que sometime within the next year. (Pitchfork)

We said yesterday that the folks at NPR are not allowed at the upcoming Stewart and Colbert rallies. Today, the Washington Post weighs in. (Yahoo)

Aiming to change the idea that men are only interested in women and booze. Well, duh. Men like sports, too. (Good Men Project)

More people watched CNN than Fox News when the first miner came to the surface. Take that, Bill, Glen and the cast of “Red Eye.” (The Hollywood Reporter)

The 125 best albums of the last 25 years. Lists are so, so fun. No. 1 is admittedly a bit surprising. (Spin)

Hey, here’s a good point: With all this bullying talk, why hasn’t Perez Hilton been criticized for partaking in such things? He’s downright cruel when it comes to some celebrities. (Salon)

The Academy Awards will stay with a late-February date in 2012. That’s assuming we are all still alive, of course. Doesn’t it seem just a bit late? You nearly make it to March before you find out who had the best movie of the previous year. (Los Angeles Times)

Chilean miners’ disaster response shows us how it SHOULD be done

I had a post all ready to go about how Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year, but in an effort to add to the already extreme number of blogs talking about the Chile miners’ rescue, I’d like to give my two cents.

This topic does kind of ties in with Halloween though, the more I think about it. Thirty-three guys, undoubtedly dirty and ornery, trapped in an area that comfortably holds 10, in total darkness for the better part of two-plus months – that sounds like a nightmare I had once after a night of mixing red wine and spiced rum then devouring a Tony’s frozen pizza right before bed.

There are many factors you can point to throughout this process that are awe-inspiring, or at the very least, amazing. One thing I found pretty astonishing was the considerable lack of BS on the part of those involved with the accident, i.e. the government, the unions, management and “concerned citizen groups.”

The mantra throughout this ordeal was that a tragedy occurred and lives were at stake – so let’s get it done by any means necessary. We’ll worry about the particulars AFTER the 33 human lives are saved. I’m not so sure we could have pulled this effort off in the U.S. to be quite frank.

I’m not trying to be anti-patriotic here by any means, but it’s a fact that disasters such as these are breeding grounds for the most, shall I say, “opportunistic” of people, and that’s unfortunate. I’m also not saying this sentiment is exclusive to the U.S., but it seems to be pretty ubiquitous around here.

There wasn’t weeks of finger pointing before deciding who would be responsible for the cost of extracting the miners, there was no oversight committee that needed to make a recommendation, there was no considering NOT taking help from a foreign country for fear of having to return a favor… it was let’s pool whatever resources available and get these men out. And that was refreshing, even if it took 10 weeks because of the depth and the fact that there was no precedent.

A radio show host yesterday asked his listeners what’s the first thing they do after exiting that steel transport structure, after being entombed for 69 days. He had his serious callers (hug and kiss your family), comical callers (have a pizza delivered to the rescue site and go to town on it) and realistic callers (shield your eyes from the flashes of the cameras). I posed the same question to my wife and had to laugh at her response, because it’s so right on: “I’m going to a freaking doctor and then sitting in a hyperbaric chamber for a month.” Yeah, she’s in the medical field.

It’s true, the struggle for these guys is nowhere near over as they begin to deal with the physical and emotional tolls this experience put on them. But surely they’ve all come out of this with a better appreciation for life. Hopefully everyone else did too.

Come on back at 4 p.m. for the Ride.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

...For The Ride Home: Gavin Rossdale comes out of the closet (kind of), Mel Kiper may be in trouble and a correction from yesterday

I spent Tuesday night with this. It's good. I won't give anything away, but if you dig these kinds of films, it's worth a shot. The whole thing felt like Michael Clayton-lite. If you happen to think movies such as that, or, say, "Breach" are a bit too tough to follow, the movie to the left does a good job to go out of its way to make sure you understand exactly what is going on at all times. And that can be good. It's certainly the best role I've seen Mr. Trainspotting in. Ever. He even looks like Jason Bateman at times, which, of course I love. Moving right along, it's Wednesday, and it's the middle of the week. I'm tried. Really tired, actually, so I'm going to cut this a bit short (that, and, well, I have a big, big soccer game tonight of which I have to be prepared for). So alas, here's to hoping you have a wonderful Wednesday after you check out a few of the links below. Be nice to others.

Late on this, but still: A woman reporter mistypes something. No editors catch it. And boom goes the dynamite. (TBD)

The better half of this blog, in an e-mail offering this link for today’s Ride: Excuse me while I wipe this egg off my face. (Ad Age)

A list of 15 people you should not be friends with on Facebook. Because I have no idea how that stuff works, I’ll simply just use this time to say you really should go see “The Social Network” tonight. (The Frisky)

Wow. Check this out. No hints. Just check it out. (Cracked)

Now, this is interesting. The agent that came clean to Sports Illustrated may be connected to Mel Kiper Jr. If that’s the case, we’ll finally know why Ryan Leaf was scouted so high. (The Big Lead)

NPR reporters will not be allowed to attend the Jon Stewart, Steve Colbert rallies. But why? (Dan Kennedy)

Gavin Rossdale was gay. No, really. He was. (Lime Life)

The difference between love and romance. (CNN)

Once you check in to the FantasyLand Hotel, you can never check out.

Monday night, the Minnesota Vikings took on the New York Jets. Having been a life-long Jets fan myself, I was very, very, very, very interested in the outcome of the game. Forget the Favre sexting angle. Forget Randy Moss’ return to the team he one starred on. Forget “Hard Knocks.” Forget a Minnesota team most thought was going to excel this season that came into the game with a record of 1-3. I just wanted to see the Jets apply a stranglehold on the AFC, which they subsequently did, winning the game and moving to a tied-for-conference-best record of 4-1.

The problem? Going into Monday night’s game, I was winning a fantasy league game by the score of 111-105. My opponent had one player left to play this week, and that one player was the New York Jets’ LaDainian Tomlinson. In a second league I participate in with family members, my opponent had Shonn Greene, another running back for the Jets. Naturally, I lost the former match-up and pulled out the win in the latter, evening my night, even though my favorite football team ultimately ended up winning, suggesting that my happiness be overridden by such an accomplishment.

But it wasn’t. I needed that win to become tied for first in the league. I now sit at 3-2 and a tie with 3,091 other people for second place.

Ahh, yes, ladies and gentlemen. The wonderful world of fantasy sports. It’s peculiar, don’t you think? I only began participating in such an activity a couple years ago when the guys at work asked me if I would be interested in joining a league. That then spawned off into another league with the better half of this blog, a championship in an NBA fantasy league on ESPN, and an on-going search for some type of fantasy soccer league I still can’t find.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. After leading nearly all of the regular season before succumbing to defeat in the playoffs in my first year, I immediately became annoyed and frustrated. Then, after much the same scenario occurred in the league with the other half of this blog before seeing him ultimately win the title two years in a row, I all but promised I would never indulge in such mind-numbing, unrealistic, shotty-scoring-system-driven game play ever again.

But alas I did when my uncle inquired about jumping in a league with him, and the guys at work went along business as usual when our team names were saved from last year and the league was already set up. It’s a love/hate relationship I have with these things, really. Being in fantasy leagues makes you pay much more attention to the sport as a whole, but it provides conflict of interest whenever your favorite team is involved (and yes, this happens with everybody – no matter how much you try to deny that you secretly weren’t rooting for your most-liked team’s running back to sprain an ankle because you couldn’t give up the points, you know that it would dampen your mood if it cost you a fantasy league championship).

In reality, I need to get away from these things. They make me feel two things: Nerdy and disloyal. I still feel gooey from rooting against Tomlinson, and I feel stupid for refreshing my fantasy game’s score 1,045 times at work whenever I got a chance. But will I ultimately breathe a breath of reality and step away from such activities once next season rolls around? That depends. When can I begin drafting for an NBA squad?

Hey, it could be worse. I could be this guy…

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

...For The Ride Home: Everybody wants a divorce, why journalists and PR people hate each other and the fastest selling video game is...

...Because I know there's somebody out there who may appreciate this more than others. And I really, really like this song. I know the critics semi trashed it (and by critics, of course, I don't necessarily mean a certain Associate Editor. Hey a six is better than anything one through five, right?), but I've really found peace with Mr. Gray's latest record. Plus, I'm telling you, if you fill out that peak he has on the top of his head, that's pretty much how I look, and that excites me. Oh, and I love the way he bobbs his head. It's adorable! Anyways, I watched "August Rush" last night because 1) many people told me I should see it and 2) Wal-Mart has new $5 movies! The exclamation point is used to portray my excitement. Not only was I able to pick up "Four Brothers" (a total steal), but my roommate insisted on buying this with the express purpose of me watching it with him last night. The kid's great. He's not good. He's great. The rest of the movie? Eh. It's hard to do music right on the big screen. And though I know I've only been watching movies for a few years now, I can honestly say that with the exception of "Cadillac Records," "This Is Spinal Tap" and "Once," it's hard for me to get into any music-driven movie (even when yes, we all know how much music has played a gigantic part in my life). In any case, the kid's good. Damn good. And maybe even worth checking the movie out for. Maybe. In any case, it is Tuesday and it is a nice day. So perk up and enjoy it friends! Now!

Now, this is great. And we can thank the better half of this blog for such a link, too! Ten things journalists and public relation people hate about each other. (Ereleases)

Yahoo asks the question that’s been on all of our minds: Where have all the fun jobs gone? Honestly, though. (Yahoo)

Hey, hey, hey. The latest FIFA video game has become the fastest selling sports video game…ever. Take that (American) football, basketball, baseball and hockey. (The 90th Minute)

Copying and fashion. Read this. (Popmatters)

Christina Aguilera is back on the market. Always thought she was way prettier than the other poplets of that time. Still do, actually. Don’t you think she’d go great with Justin Timberlake? Ohhh. And ahhhh. (TMZ)

…And the same could be said about Courtney Cox. Turns out, dude from “Scream” slept with a bartender. Doesn’t anybody stay together anymore? Damn. I thought these two couples got it right, too. Shall there be no faith in anything anymore? (Fox News)

NPR hires people to monitor its comment boards. Keep in mind, new comment board police men: All things written are said in a monotone, serious voice, and shall be written with words containing no less than nine letters. (NPR)

Andy Richter is coming back with Conan. If only Max was listening. (Entertainment Weekly)

Gap logo change = disaster

If you’ve been paying attention to our little corner of the blogosphere, one thing you know is what my counterpart and I do to make our modest (MODEST) livings – he’s a journalist and I’m in public relations and marketing. Funny, right? We’re supposed to hate each other according to the standards set by our respective trades. But hey, we’re all about breaking barriers and building bridges here at The Unusual Suspects camp.

One hot topic in the PR/marketing world right now is retail giant Gap changing its logo (as you can see). A logo change from a huge corporation is always big news – it’s kind of like a celebrity undergoing major plastic surgery, only more extreme. No one is sure why they did it, everyone wonders how it will affect their personality and there’s sure to be mishaps along the way.

Typically, a logo change will take months from the idea phase to the unveiling of the new design and brand promise. The company usually employs an ad firm that does extensive research on consumer trends, demographics, emerging trends, psychological predispositions, purchasing behaviors, organizational culture, blah blah blah, and eventually, after hours of research, brainstorming and architecting, brings the client the IDEA.

The client then gives the ad firm a dozen reasons why the IDEA isn’t correct.

After much back and forth between the two parties, a watered down, often bastardized version of the initial IDEA comes to fruition. And this, mind you, is after seven or eight people from the client company, who have little-to-no educated insight into branding, have weighed in.

The Gap logo in its most recent form undoubtedly fell victim to this process. In a recent poll of PR and marketing executives, 88 percent of the 300+ respondents just plain don’t like it, and for many different reasons. One creative director said it’s the worst he’s ever seen. Ever. Ouch.

So on to the fun part: Gap’s response to the criticism. On its Facebook page last week, the company stated “We know this logo created a lot of buzz, and we’re thrilled to see passionate debates unfolding! So much so we’re asking you to share your designs. We love our version, but we’d like to see other ideas. Stay tuned for details in the next few days on this crowd sourcing project.”

How does this sit with you? I suppose there are two ways you can look at it: 1) Gap is making a noble attempt at engaging its audience and fostering a two way conversation with those who proudly wear its clothing. OR 2) Gap, a major corporation, probably worth billions, is looking for free design work. Like they’re some local, nonprofit health and wellness center, funded solely by grants and donations.

I’m somewhere in the middle of the road on this issue. One of the main reasons companies get involved with social media is to get people talking about its brand. So when a conversation is started, it only makes sense to get involved and contribute to said conversation, hopefully guiding it to a positive outcome. But asking users to submit their ideas? For free no less?

Hundreds of companies use needles and threads to manufacture shirts… but people don’t purchase shirts per se. The logo is the face of the brand, which, like it or not, is what people purchase. So what exactly is the IDEA worth to a company like Gap? Obviously not much if they’re asking for it for nothing. It’s a sad message to send to those who make a living off their creativity.

See you right back here at 4 p.m. EST.

Monday, October 11, 2010

...For The Ride Home: Harper calls it quits, Ashton and Demi don't, and the world loses an R&B icon

We get the whole group together for the second-to-last photo of the season (and yes, I know this is an old image). First and foremost, Roger earned back all the cool points he lost last week. A couple great lines can do that for a dude with awesome white hair. Instead of offering a stream of conscious, all encompassing take, I am going to say this: Something about everything that's going on doesn't seem right. It doesn't seem interesting. What we are boiling down to is almost exactly the way last season ended, and if we end up seeing that they need to start over - AGAIN - when next season starts, I may jump the shark. When is Matthew Wiener going to write around a different plot line than "Oh goodness, what are we going to do as a company?!" Seeing everybody get fired was admittedly sad. But watching Bert leave felt so anti-climactic, you felt as though it was just another day. And that shouldn't happen. His last name is Cooper, for God's sake. Besides, do you really think he's gone for good? Really? Come on, now. Watching Don give away money - or be charitable in any fashion, for that matter - is becoming grating. So what? We get it. You have a ton of money and you don't mind parting with it for people who may need it (though there was no reason to buy that painting, if you ask me). His idea? It was fine. Of course it's going to result in something wonderful for the company, and of course it's going to make sure this season doesn't end on an apocalyptic note. But, blah. Give us something earth-shattering next week, Matt. Please. I'm begging you. Nice to meet you, Week 29.

Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Jason Whitlock think the Brett Favre story is made up. Really? (Deadspin)

Solomon Burke died over the weekend, and if you fancy yourself a rhythm & blues fan, you should care about this. Rest in peace, big fella. (Rolling Stone)

Goodness. The Huffington Post is going to spend a quarter of a million dollars on shuttle buses for Jon Stewart’s rally. Wow. (The Wrap)

So, has anyone watched “Parker Spitzer” yet? I caught a few minutes and it was…not good. Kathleen Parker needs to really, really hone her television skills. (Wall Street Journal)

Ashton and Demi: Still going strong. (New York Post)

Dame Dash and Jay-Z back together? (All Hip-Hop)

Laura Dern and Ben Harper are getting a divorce. Wait. Laura Dern and Ben Harper were married? (The Daily Mail)

Your weekly “Mad Men” link. (Entertainment Weekly)

Drinking & Driving: Not a good idea.

So, I golfed this past weekend. Honestly. I did. The last time I did such a thing, I was with the better half of this blog, and it was forever ago. Like for-ev-er. And by forever, I mean something like May, of course. And though I hit the best seven-iron of my life that day, it wasn't enough to raise my interest in perusing more golf outings more often this summer.

Why? Because I'm awful. Like, super awful. And I can't get better. Like, at all. The summer before last was easily the summer in which I played the most golf, and by the time August rolled around, I contemplated selling my clubs.

It's an odd thing, golf is. All men seem to want to learn how to play it after they pass a certain age, and more often than not, end up becoming good enough to continue playing through springs, summers and falls. It's a display of power, actually. A lot of business deals get done on the golf course (or at least in my small, little mind, they do. Kind of like in the same way I've now become convinced that all big-time athletes cheat on their wives in some underground secret world that only pretty people are allowed into. Thanks Brett Favre.)

All that said, this particular golf outing was a bit different for me. And why is that, you ask? No, it wasn't because I got an actual, true, honest-to-goodness bogey on the fifth hole, silly. It was because I clocked in some overtime on my Man Clock by drinking beer while partaking in such golf-like activities. That's right: A dude who hit a ball with a stick up and down a pretty-looking forrest who was drinking cans of Miller Lite. That's me. A man amongst men.

The result was exactly what I thought it would be (and also, I may add, a big reason as to why I've never done such a thing before): Awful. Never mind the fact that we could get through only 15 holes before the sun subsided for the day, and neither of us could actually see. Never mind the fact that by the 11th hole, I had lost all of the balls I had purchased that very day before hitting the links. And never mind the added pressure of betting a dollar on each hole with the guy I was playing with (wow, that's three! Golfing. Drinking. Gambling. Put me in a Ford commercial!).

Fatigue. That's all. When I drink, I get tired (unless if singing and dancing is involved, of course). And I knew that if I ever decided to try and mix the game of golf with such a thing, I'd be suffering. And boy, was I suffering. The sun setting didn't help, either. Fifteen more minutes and I would have cuddled up on the back of the cart for a two hour nap. By the time we made it back to the car - and I noticed it was only seven at night - I felt as though the only thing left to aspire for was a ball of yarn and a rocking chair, and you could have mistaken me for an 85-year-old grandmother. It killed me.

The lesson learned here? Don't drink and drive (get it?! That's so punny!). Does this mean I'll give up golf for the rest of the year? Probably (if for no other reason than the fact that I left my clubs in the back of his car). Does it mean I'll be one of the first people at a driving range once winter subsides and the weather becomes warmer next April? Absolutely. And, of course, the biggest question: Does this mean I'll be able to further the quality of my golf game next summer now that I have done the one thing I've never done on the golf course?

Not a chance. But hey. At least I don't look like this guy...

Friday, October 8, 2010

...For The Ride Home: Figuring out much online writers get paid, Brett Favre is awfully close to a mess and if John Lennon were still alive

I don't care what you are doing tonight. I don't care if you have plans you couldn't wait to come across for months. I don't care if it's going to be a first date. A blind date. A second, "well, we will be able to tell if this is going to work out after this" date. A night with your loved one. A night with your children. A night out with your boys. A night out with your girls. Call whoever it is you need to call and cancel those plans. Walk to the nearest bankrupt Blockbuster and rent this movie. Now. Rent it. If "Up In The Air" was 2009's 1A, this was 1B. Colin Firth is utterly captivating. Cap-ti-vating. Goodness, gracious. No wonder 2010's movies have sucked. 2009 was playing way above its own pay-grade. "Up In The Air." "A Single Man." "An Education." Hell, even "Crazy Heart" was probably better than anything out so far this year (and that's not to diminish "The Social Network" or "The Kids Are All Right," either). One more time. Go. Rent. This. Movie. OK. We say goodnight (because it means goodbye) to Week 28 differently, considering I plastered a movie poster up here rather than a nifty jingle to send you party animals into the party wild. Alas, I shall never let you down, though, as you will find a video at the bottom of this particular post. And while it may not be much of a jingle, it is far funnier than whatever the normal, well-adjusted people consider is funny. In fact, if there was a Venn Diagram for what is indeed is funny, this would be on it. Before you get to that video, though, you must power your way through the following links, links we offer for you fabulous people to ponder through an October weekend. We hope to see you back here bright eyed and bushy tailed Monday morning for more funtastic fun. Until then, though, enjoy a pretty autumn weekend, try to get a few more rounds of golf in before the weather becomes unbearable, and as always, love you, miss you.

Pretty much the most comprehensive roundup you’ll find today concerning all of this Brett Favre, Jenn Sterger, naked photos, sexual voice mails business. (The Big Lead)

Ohhh. So I guess I’ll have to begin checking for new “60 Minutes” podcasts now that a new season has begun, eh? (Detroit News)

Very, very interesting: How writers get paid on one of the bigger entertainment Web sites. $10 per thousand new visitors is a good place to start. (Business Insider)

And now Rick Sanchez says Jon Stewart is the classiest dude in the world. (ABC News)

The Page Six editor is leaving, and that caps off a shake-em-up week in the world of print media. Naturally, Donald Trump weighs in. (The Daily Beast)

I link this only because of my unrequited love for Genesis and Phil Collins. (Popmatters)

Elisabeth Hasselbeck is moving to “Good Morning America.” Has there ever been a more meteoric rise for someone who literally came from nowhere? (People)

Tomorrow would have been John Lennon’s 70th birthday. No word on whether or not he would have shown up on any of McCartney’s latest dates had he been alive. Somewhere, Ringo thanks God once again for being the luckiest man in the history of music. (USA Today)

Oh. Oh. I think I want to buy this. (Alternative Press)

...And if you don't think this is funny...

Double Feature: It's Kind Of A Funny Story & Life As We Know It

Each Friday, we will offer up two movies that are scheduled to be released within the accompanying weekend. We know, we know. It’s hard to come across blogs who ever actually get movie talk right. That’s why we won’t say much. A trailer. A paragraph. And boom – all you need to know about what new movies you can take your beautiful object of affection to see this weekend. It's like going to the drive-in movie theater. Remember those? So much fun. Thank us later, not now.

It's Kind Of A Funny Story

I have high hopes for this. I am not one of those people who seem to think Zach Galifianakis is funny, interesting or entertaining on any level (and yes, this includes "The Hangover"). But this seems to be the first time he's going to try and take himself seriously, and for some odd, inexplicable reason, this intrigues me. It's like Will Ferrell in "Stranger Than Fiction." I've never liked the dude, but that's a movie I enjoyed so much, I decided to buy. And it's that very reason that parlays "It's Kind Of A Funny Story" into "I kind of want to see this" territory. Well, that and it seems as though there is a romance beneath all of this. And, much like a four-year-old who will always smile at the thought of ice cream, when you incorporate a love story into any flick, I'll be interested. It won't be opening wide this weekend, but with any luck, it'll do well enough to make it into a theater near me soon. Though, as always, if you happen to come across it, all comments and reviews are welcome.

Life As We Know It

Boy, if I didn't dislike Katherine Heigl as much as I do, this seems a movie tailor-made for people such as myself. I thought Josh Duhamel was the best part of "When In Rome," and even though he's been steppin' out on Fergie, he's quickly becoming one of my favorites as a male lead in a rom-com. Let me guess: They start out hating each other. An hour-and-a-half, three pee breaks and a bag of popcorn later, they are madly in love and decide to raise a kid that isn't their own in a happily-ever-after world. This, in turn, inspires Fergie's hubby and Josh Kelly's wifey to try and pro-create on their own, and the movie ends with plans on having a child of their own. Just a guess. Better question: What's a better song - "London Bridge," or "Amazing?" If you don't remember the latter, look it up - you'll know what I'm talking about. Replace Heigl with Jen Anniston or Amy Adams and I'm in. Way in.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

...For The Ride Home: The hockey season begins tonight, a new couple definitely worth rooting for and Roy Halladay is good

I've already babbled endlessly about NPR's "Fresh Air." Another program I am always sure to keep my iPod filled with is "Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me." It's been that way for years and years and years, actually. And on Jimmy Fallon's show last night, both of these men appeared, and such an action thrilled me to death. I've seen Peter on Craig Ferguson's show a couple times before, but never Carl. And knowing the show will be in Philly in only a matter of weeks now - while knowing there is no possible way for me to attend - breaks my heart beyond belief. If you've never listened to the show, log into your iTunes, search NPR's page, do yourself a favor, and download the most recent episode. And if you don't enjoy listening to things that are podcasted, listen to your local NPR station anytime this weekend, really. It should be there. So hello, Thursday. You know what you mean? You mean that there is only one more day left in the week! Yay! What are you going to do with your weekend? I hope it's something fun. Weekends are always reserved for fun, right? Here's hoping you and your object of affection have a fun-like weekend, and here's hoping you enjoy a link or six below. Have a fantastic Thursday!

Roy Halladay pitched the second no-hitter in postseason history last night. The Phillies beat the Reds to go up 1-0. More impressive? Dude also drove in a run. (Philly Inquirer)

Seventeen cheap dates that women will like. Hey. They said it. (Esquire)

No. No. No. Half the reason why we do what we do is so we can get free food! (Star Tribune)

Newsweek was sold for one dollar. I told you we could have done this had we put our money together. (New York Times)

Lou Dobbs: Hypocrite. (The Nation)

The basketball season begins in less than a month and all the GMs believe the Lakers will win the title and Kevin Durant will win the league MVP. Here's hoping. (Yahoo)

…And hockey season begins tonight. Three of the eight people who read this blog are excited about that. And for you, we offer this. (Sporting News)

Rachael McAdams and Michael Sheen is definitely a couple I could get behind. (Showbiz Spy)

What's more stereotypical than Oktoberfest? St. Patrick's Day maybe?

What is the first thing that comes to mind when I say Germany? Hopefully you skip over that terrible period around World War II and jumped right to beer and bratwurst.

Last weekend I had the distinct pleasure of working an Oktoberfest celebration (hint: I work in PR, so event management is part of the gig). We had all the German cliches: saurbraten, pretzels, dark beer, spaetzle & cabbage and even some lederhosen. The band played brass and polka, the tables were covered in Bavarian blue and white and overall a fabulous time was had by all.

But it did get me thinking about what stereotypical events like this do to the culture in question. I'm part German and my wife is damn near 100% -- should we be offended at the characterization of our heritage? After all, it would be AWFUL to take the stereotypical traits and behaviors of a minority and fashion a hyped-up event around it, right?

Same question as the beginning, only change it to Irish - what do you got? Again, skip over that whole nasty IRA thing (I'm now on a terror alert list just for typing that) and hopefully you land on beer and corned beef. Is it right? Probably not, but it makes for one heck of a bender each year on St. Paddy's Day

By the way, I know another half of this blog who just may fall into this category. He's pale, too. Really pale.

Am I saying I'm personally offended by the celebration of these broad generalizations, based purely on a life of excess and indulgence? Absolutely not - I'm the first one in line at the beer tent. But I CAN say I can see where you could be.

Now for my final question: Which cultural bastardization is more fun in your book - the German Oktoberfest or the Irish St. Paddy's Day? My man and I will be fighting this out next weekend after a few pints I'm sure, but we'd love your input.

Maybe this will help.

See you right back here at 4 p.m. to get you link on. Hope to hear from you, hehe.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

...For The Ride Home: Randy Moss is going back to Minnesota, non-fiction writers you need to know about and our hearts go out to Mr. Levitt

This is the best movie of 2010. So far, at least. This puts "The Kids Are All Right" at No. 2. Forget your Inceptions. Forget your The Towns. This is it, right here. I still think it's a down year for movies, though. If this ends up lasting another three months in its position, and I'm forced to consider this the best movie of 2010 in my tiny, little brain, then yes, this is a slow movie year. It's still really, really good, though. Eisenberg should get an Oscar nod for this. Honestly, though. In much the same way Clooney was born to play the lead in "Up In the Air," Eisenberg was definitely born to play the lead in this particular flick. It's smart, and sitting right next to romantic comedies, those are my favorite kinds of movies. I don't - and still don't, for that matter - know anything about Facebook, including how to use it. But that doesn't really matter when considering "The Social Network." Dialogue-driven movies: They're the best. And the opening sequence? Goodness, gracious. Fantastic. I feel as though I've been sitting on his end of the table way too many times in my life, acting the exact same way: Scatter-brained, unsure, skeptical, obsessive, quick-speaking, subject-changing, smarmy. Wow, I'm awful, aren't I? I could go on for another 6,000,000 words, but I'll digress for now. Instead, I'll offer the following links, and remind you that the more you are nice to others, others will be nice to you. Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Randy Moss is going back to the Minnesota Vikings. Hmm. (NESN)

The five best new artists for October, as determined by Spin. (Spin)

There are only three plausible scenarios for the future of newspapers. And this guy talked about them. (The Herald Times)

Ohhhhh. And. Ahhhhhh. Twenty non-fiction writers under the age of 40 that you should pay attention to. (New Haven Review)

As we said yesterday, Howie Kurtz is out at the Washington Post. And here is what some people think The Post should go after when trying to replace him. (Columbia Journalism Review)

Sooooo, the naked cowboy is going to run for president? Really? (TMZ)

Christina Hendricks: Women hit on her just as much as men do. Side: I love her – don’t get me wrong – but outside of “Mad Men,” it’s hard to find pictures of her in which she looks nearly as good. Side No. 2: I love her voice. (CNN)

This is sad. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s brother dies. He was 36. Saw the movie star on Carson Daly’s show last night, promoting the fabulous hitRECord Web site, and he’s just someone to root for. Once came across a tweet from a dude I went to college with who was totally trashing him because he saw Levitt perform his music somewhere. No need for that. Joe seems like a nice kid. (People)

What does the Monopoly game at McDonald’s and going to the gym have in common?

Nothing, really, aside from the fact that the two will be intertwined in this particular blog post. But hey, the headline got your attention, right?

This week, I decided that after a year-and-a-half away from the gym (though not away from running – if you remember correctly), that I would once again gain membership and begin consciously trying to better my physical health by both keeping up with the running and adding a few lifting rituals into the mix.

The problem with all of this? Yesterday marked the beginning of McDonald’s Monopoly game for the year! That’s right. Twenty-seven Big Macs, 52 Angus burgers and a whole bunch of chicken nuggets could mean a brand new television, a shiny car or millions upon gamillions of dollars for me to waste on DVDs of television shows (I’m looking at you, “House.”)

So…what to do? I haven’t a clue. I’ve kept my mind pretty open about wrestling with the gym this time around (don’t over-do it, don’t get burned out quickly, don’t hate running on treadmills, and no, I won’t have an eight-pack of abs by the end of the week, no matter how many miles I put in), but the entire notion of waking up early to run and lift, while capping that off with an extra value meal at McDonald’s later in the day seems to be a bit counterintuitive, don’t you think?

But the game is just so much fun! Of all the fast food restaurant games, this one’s easily the best. In fact, it’s so good, most all other fast food chains have simply just given up on promotions all together (aside from that silly football game Wendy’s seems to be offering again). Come on, now. You’d be lying if you say you’ve never thought of the implications of picking up a large order of french fries and possibly finding that one missing piece you’ve been waiting to come across that would provide you with a free small soft drink or, well, $50,000 in cash.

It’s great, really. I just haven’t decided how to tackle it, though. And that’s why I turn to you, my dear, dear, blogtastic friends. Should I stop working out? Should I give up on my Monopoly dreams? Should I pay for other people’s meals and take their pieces? Should I ignore the temptations? Should I plan my funeral, considering my arteries will be plugged within six months if I plan to move forward with the McDonald’s angle? So many questions. So few answers.

That said, if anybody happens across any McDonald’s Monopoly pieces, and doesn’t wish to indulge themselves in such game-playing foolishness (or, for that matter, if you are willing to trade one of your eight New York Avenues for one of my 14 Baltic Avenues), remember you can always e-mail us at And if that doesn’t work, we are always available in the comments section.

And remember, any of these things could happen to me, should I decide to strictly go with weight lifting and nothing else…

…And that would be painful.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

...For The Ride Home: Howie Kurtz lands a new job, Beiber is the next Ashton Kutcher and an awfully good remix of an XX song

Watch this now. I don't care what you are doing tonight, but there is really no excuse to not cancel all your plans and sit at home with this movie (unless if you are coaching a soccer game and then going to see "The Social Network" much like myself. Then you'd have good excuses). I got home from work and saw this began on AMC, and even though I HATE watching movies on television (commercials completely ruin everything), this began what hopes to be an impressive week of movies. Goodness, gracious. For someone who loves, loves, loves romantic comedies, this thing is perfection. It's a "Love, Actually" situation, really. Wow. Cuddle up with someone you love, cook some tea and do yourself a favor by giving this movie a shot if you haven't already seen it. Fabulous. So, hello, Tuesday. It's rainy and it's cold. Actually, it hasn't stopped being rainy and cold for a few days now. And I think I may be getting sick. But then again, I've been thinking I was about to get sick for about three weeks now. It has to come eventually, right? Especially in October. Before I get sick, though - and before you run to the nearest almost-closed Blockbuster to rent "You've Got Mail" - check out a couple links below, and enjoy the autumn weather. That is, if you like enjoying autumn weather.

Now that baseball’s regular season is over (and the Pirates were again awful), these guys take a look at how all of the “experts” did with preseason predictions. Here’s a hint: Not well. (The Big Lead)

The name of Kanye West’s next CD? My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. (Rolling Stone)

Wooooooooowwwww. Someone who we have linked before in these parts – Washington Post columnist Howie Kurtz – is leaving the paper to work for The Daily Beast. Wow. That’s a hit. (TBD)

Wooooooooowwwww (part two). Michael Ausiello is leaving Entertainment Weekly. Goodness, what has gotten into all these people today? (Deadline)

This guy says there will be no more news anchors who get gabillions of dollars thrown at them. Good. (Mark Coddington)

“Punk’d” is coming back. And Justin Bieber is going to host it. (Popeater)

Four Tet remixes The XX. Turn off all your lights and listen to this magical nine minute piece of work. (Pitchfork)

Because there is a Fashion Week going on. And it’s in Paris. And you should care. (The Guardian)

One hundred and five losses. That’s a lot.

Side: For something really, really interesting in regards to this particular topic, follow this link. You won't be disappointed.

As the regular season of Major League Baseball wrapped up, we fans of America’s pastime gear up for the intensity that is the playoffs. That edge of your seat thrill ride where every pitch is a nail biting endeavor; where there is no such thing as a safe lead; where heroes emerge from the unlikeliest of places.

But that intensity is hard to understand for those of us who cheer for the Pittsburgh Pirates, seeing as how it’s been 18 years since the team has even sniffed a playoff berth. When the clock struck midnight on the Buccos season the other night, they managed to eclipse the elusive 100+ loss plateau, tie for the worst away record in history (17-64) and even commit a fashion faux paus that generated the attention of ESPN, Yahoo Sports and every other sports outlet looking for a light-hearted sidebar to their “Playoff Baseball!” center spread. Please tell me you heard about this:

Pirates shortstop Ronny Cedeno trotted onto the field Sunday against the Florida Marlins wearing, you guessed it, the wrong uniform. To make matters worse, it wasn’t until the third inning – and a home run by Cedeno – that the mistake was realized.

Even funnier, the uniform Cedeno had on was a different color AND IN SPANISH.

That’s right, emblazoned in big bold letters across the front of his jersey was “Piratas” – it may as well have said “here’s one more thing for our fans to be embarrassed about.”

I try to have a sense of humor with this stuff, I really do. And by all accounts, whether this was a prank or an oversight, it’s pretty funny. But pranks are a whole lot funnier when you’re winning… even a little bit. Even like half the time.

So here’s to you, my beloved Bucs. Thank you for another losing season. I look forward to the false sense of hope you will inevitably try to instill upon me and the other suckers who cling to the thought that one day we’ll be the ones laughing.

Oh wait, we already are. Because if we’re not laughing, we’ll probably start crying.

And to think: It once looked so promising...

See you in a few hours for your daily links to live by. Muah.

Monday, October 4, 2010

...For The Ride Home: Fox News is your new source for all Tea Party information, Zuckerberg could sue movie makers and the U.S. goes down hard

Whoa, whoa, whoa, Roger. What the hell do you think you are doing? Lies, lies and more lies, and we see how far this gets you. With only two episodes left, "Mad Men" has left nothing but doom and gloom talk to be had as this fourth season winds down. For really the first time this season (or at least, that's how it feels), we finally get to see Don Draper work as the boat his company resides in keeps sinking further and further into the sea. I was shocked (shocked!) to see Peggy end up with that creep she dismissed a couple weeks ago. That was...disappointing. We saw the beginnings of a youth movement, though, as Ms. Olson went into a meeting and got a deal done in quintessential Don Draper fashion. And speaking of Mr. Draper: Oh the humanity! What are you thinking, my man? You see what sleeping with secretaries does to your life, so why turn down that road again? That said, I still don't support his relationship with Faye. Don't know why, either. Just can't get behind that. In some odd, inexplicable way, I root for things to actually progress with this new secretary. But man, does she have some messed up teeth, or what? And that answer isn't what. Bold prediction: Pete leaves by the end of the season, Roger finds some way out of the company, and everything becomes all blown up. They have to do that, right? After last year's dog and pony show of a season finale. Good day, Week 28. Let's see what you can offer.

The Europeans won the Ryder Cup this morning. It was the first time in almost 20 years the competition came down to the final match. So, so sad. (ESPN)

Did anyone catch “Saturday Night Live” this weekend? Kanye West thanks any and everyone around for the success of his performance. Bigger story: “What Up With That” returned. (MTV)

Terry Gross, who, if you remember correctly, I love and ran into at a record store in Philly last May, sits down with Jon Stewart. (NPR)

People StyleWatch is the magazine of the year. Or so says these guys. (Ad Age)

Fox News: The official television network of the Tea Party. (New York Times)

First movies. Then television. And now music is going to have a stab at 3-D. (Pollstar)

Zuckerberg and the thought of suing the producers of “The Social Network.” T-minus 18 hours until I finally sit down with what Rolling Stone says is the best movie of the year. (The Hollywood Reporter)

A “Mad Men” recap. Only two episodes left! Frown face. (Entertainment Weekly)

Suicide is never an answer. Ever.

As if you haven't figured out by now, I work at a newspaper for a living. Actually, I'm a columnist and editor. The recent suicide of Tyler Clementi sparked something within me that all but demanded a piece on it. After taking time over the weekend to write about it, I decided that I want to share that particular column with you, a column that will appear in my newspaper's Friday edition this week. There are no cute photos - no cute videos. Just writing here (I know - I'm sorry. I just didn't think any bells and whistles were appropriate). Any comments are encouraged, and I promise that we will pick business up again later with today's Ride. I sincerely hope you enjoy the following andm if nothing else, remember to always take into consideration the seriousness of your words when interacting with others.

No matter how bad you think you have it, somebody else in this world always has it worse.

That’s what my near and dear friend Ryan told me during a late night walk when I was a freshman in college. He would know. He lost both of his parents within a three-year stretch, and the toll that it took on him both mentally and physically ultimately led him to give up on a one-time promising basketball career, eventually forcing him to withdraw from school all together because he was unable to juggle both sports and academics while his personal life was taking such a hit.

It helped me. In fact, it still helps me. As someone who has struggled with depression for over 26 years now, those words have proven to be valuable on more than one occasion. Yes, particularly difficult stretches of days still occur from time to time, and sure, I have let myself sink so far below sea level that I’ve been the cause of concern for those who love me, but I ultimately flash back to that spring night whenever I’m confronted with those feelings anymore. It’s not a full-proof mechanism, but it certainly adds enough to help me see things through.

Someone who could have used that advice was Tyler Clementi, a freshman at Rutgers University who killed himself a couple weeks ago by jumping off the George Washington bridge. The suicide occurred after his college roommate, Dharan Ravi, posted a live feed of Clementi participating in a sexual encounter with another male student, thus leading to an outcry from activists around the globe concerning acceptance, bullying, bigotry and tolerance.

“Things will get easier. People’s minds will change and you should be alive to see it,” talk show host Ellen DeGeneres said in a video last week.
“I wished I could talk to him for five minutes,” Washington Post columnist Dan Savage added. “I wished I could tell him that things change – that things get better.”

What’s missing from these statements is levity – a sense of gravity that is most always ignored whenever hindsight is added to the equation. Sometimes five minutes isn’t enough. Sometimes things don’t get easier. And sometimes, people’s minds really never end up changing. And then what do you do? How do you react? How do you deal?

It’s much easier to look back on such a tragic action with rose colored glasses that formulate an idealistic world that could have been. But what those who may have never been exposed to such emotions aren’t taking into consideration is the complete and utter feeling of hopelessness, and the tight grip it has on someone who finds him or herself confronted with feelings of despair, loneliness, failure or misery.

The experience is crippling. Actually, it’s irrational. This is proven when these irrational acts can result in an outcome that impacts other people’s futures. I’m sure Clementi didn’t do what he did to spite the people he loved. He did it because he saw it as a way out. He never had any ill will or vindictive intention by doing what he did. He was just unable to see his emotions through. At that moment in time, he was unable to consider the lasting affect his death would have on his friends and family, let alone an entire nation.

For a few minutes or hours, the entire notion of suicide seemed rational, and that’s when we as individuals are at our most dangerous: When irrationality blurs into rationality and the two are mistaken for one another. In fact, I’d be willing to bet Clementi was able to convince himself before he jumped off that bridge that what he was about to do was the most rational thing he could have possibly done in his position.

Unfortunately, though, he was wrong. Suicide is never – and will never – be the answer to anybody’s problems. What truly sets these actions off are enablers that surround us on a daily basis. Our personal reactions to these enablers become the most important factor when trying to dissect the mind of someone who has sunk so low, he or she feels such an action is the only reasonable outcome. They can be the biggest of things. They can be the smallest of things. They all have different affects and spark different emotions in each and every one of us.

For Clementi, it was an act of despicable nature from a guy he probably knew almost nothing about during one of the hardest times anyone can go through: A freshman year in college. For Seth Walsh, a Tehachapi, Calif., 13-year-old, it was being forced to endure the taunting his classmates put him through because of his sexual orientation. He died days after trying to hang himself from a tree in his backyard. For Asher Brown, a Texas teen who shot himself to death, it was comment after comment from his classmates that drove him to end his life prematurely. Insults regarding his small stature, religion and suspected sexual orientation simply proved to be too much.

And that’s my point: We as a society can be utterly ignorant of the impact we truly have on other people’s personal lives. One meaningless joke to you may keep someone else up for five straight nights, stressing over the intention of such a comment. One off-hand statement that may slip from your mouth could easily force someone else to spend an entire evening crying, locked in a bedroom. One act of rudeness can be magnified, and one insult or act of invasive disrespect – we have now learned - can literally be deadly.

Your irrational statements may be the driving force behind another’s irrational actions.

It’s a shame. These teenagers were cheated out of lives. They were cheated out of futures. Out of happiness. Out of potential. Out of an entire world filled with beautiful, loving people - people they were unable to consider when they should have, and people they were unable to find when they needed them the most.

I thank God I was able to find one of those beautiful people. And now, in the wake of these incredulous tragedies, it’s up to us to spread that beauty as far and wide as we possibly can.

Because no matter how bad you may think you have it, it’s true: Someone else always has it worse.