When conspicuous consumption becomes ridiculous consumption

I’d never heard of the website Defector until a few days ago, and didn’t realize that a gentleman named Drew Magary has been creating a hilarious annual “Hater’s Guide to the Williams-Sonoma Catalog” for several years now.

So thanks to my friend Daniele for putting the 2020 Hater’s Guide on my radar.

From the Defector website – Illustration by Jim Cooke

It is, hands down, the funniest piece I’ve read all year. Bitingly sarcastic, and laugh-out-loud (yes, an actual LOL!) funny.

The language is a bit salty, but Williams-Sonoma has earned every curse word with their exorbitantly priced wares.

Look again at that price. Now lemme add a few more gratuitous exclamation points. A H!!!U!!NDRED G!ODD!!!AMN D!!!!OLL!!!ARS!!!!!!! For a box of Hungry Jack, a squeeze bottle, a spatula, an obligatory tartan tchotchke, and some goddamn syrup. Now I’m a pancake enthusiast, so I know that the market for pure maple syrup is highly volatile. But for $100, I could drive to Vermont and tap a maple tree MYSELF to get the goods.

Drew Magary’s comments on the WILLIAMS-SONOMA CHRISTMAS BREAKFAST GIFT CRATE

Read it and weep – because you’ll be laughing so hard you’ll be crying.

BTW, my exhaustive research (i.e. typing “Defector website” into DuckDuckGo’s search box) has revealed that Defector is a bunch of… defectors from Deadspin.

So much more than Squiggy

David L. Lander passed away a couple of weeks ago. Name doesn’t ring a bell? How about if I call him “the guy who played ‘Squiggy’ on Laverne & Shirley“? If you’re in my age bracket, that should be all the info you need, because “Lenny” (David’s longtime friend Michael McKean) and “Squiggy” were indelible sitcom characters. They could steal a scene just by entering it:

McKean and Lander met as freshmen in college at Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh, which is where they created their Lenny and Squiggy characters. Both later became performers in The Credibility Gap, a group that performed satirical comedy sketches on L.A. radio stations. Here’s a video version of one of The Credibility Gap’s most famous bits, featuring David L. Lander and Harry Shearer:

Long after his “Squiggy” heyday, Lander stayed busy with bit parts and voice acting gigs. Which is even more impressive when you consider the fact that he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1984, just a year after Laverne & Shirley concluded its run. He didn’t announce it publicly until 1999. (His 2002 book was entitled Fall Down Laughing: How Squiggy Caught Multiple Sclerosis and Didn’t Tell Nobody.) He later became an ambassador for M.S.

Oh, and he also worked as a baseball scout for the Anaheim Angels and the Seattle Mariners.

Also worth noting that in Hollywood, where marriages have the life cycle of a fruit fly, David and his wife got married in 1979.

Most of us will remember him as Squiggy — and that character was certainly quite memorable — but there was a lot more to David L. Lander.

The Queen City is King of Beers (again)!

For the second year in a row, Cincinnati claimed the top spot in SmartAsset’s assessment of the best cities for beer drinkers. Mainly because we have dozens of breweries, a plethora of bars, hundreds of beer varieties, and a decent cost of living.

We compared 384 cities across the following metrics: total number of breweries, breweries per 100,000 residents, average number of beers per brewery, bars per 100,000 residents and the average price of a pint. 

From the SmartAsset article “Best Cities for Beer Drinkers – 2020 Edition”
Visual from the SmartAsset article

The Germans who immigrated to Cincinnati in the 1800s really loved their bier. You couldn’t swing a dead knockwurst without hitting a brewery. Most of these businesses didn’t survive Prohibition. But a new generation of brewmeisters has done a great job reviving the old traditions… and putting a new spin on them, too.

Clip from the Art & Craft video from Leapframe and Neltner Small Batch. Full video is below.

At present, we’ve got 70 local breweries and 63 taprooms. And they’re making good stuff: 18 local breweries picked up a total of 39 medals in the 2020 US Open Beer Championships.

Original artwork by my good friend Keith Neltner, done for an Artworks mural in the Over-the-Rhine area of Cincinnati. Learn more about the mural on Keith’s Neltner Small Batch website.

My wife and I went to our “local” brewery, Big Ash Brewing, last night.

photo from the Big Ash Brewing website

It was warm enough to sit outside… at least, it was warm enough with a fire pit going.

It’s tougher to visit taprooms in the Age of Coronavirus… but you can always get your beer to go. It’s good for your health…

Cheers to the Cincinnati Beer scene! If only they had this brewery…

Art & Craft | A Tale of Beer and Brushes from LEAPframe on Vimeo.

The Tom Petty Diet

You hear a lot about “eating clean” these days.

But what are you feeding your brain? Check out this clip from the Broken Record podcast — it’s an episode with Tom Petty’s daughter Adria, and she talks about how her dad fed his brain and nourished his soul:

I love that clip! First of all, I love Tom Petty, and I think this clip helps explain how he was able to continue to make great music for 40 years.

“He would feed the well with only this really, really good information, and take all the rest away. He didn’t really take a lot of noise and negativity into his diet.”

Adria Petty, talking about her father Tom

[Semi-sidebar: The Broken Record podcast is great if you’re a music fan. You’ll find interviews with established artists like Bruce Springsteen and Santana, and up-and-coming artists like S.G. Goodman and Deep Sea Diver. If you’re a Tom Petty fan, you’ll love the episode with Adria, as well as the interviews with Heartbreakers Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench. Check it out.]

Even if you’re not an aspiring rock star, there’s a lot to learn from TP on how to “eat clean” for your mind, your heart and your soul. It’s way too easy to binge on empty calories… endlessly snacking (or doomscrolling) on tweets, spending hours at the all-you-can-eat Facebook buffet, sucking down pop culture listicles, stuffing yourself with “reality” TV, bellying up to the 24/7 news bar. There are countless temptations that can consume endless hours of your time on earth, and they mostly just weigh you down with “noise and negativity” as Adria put it.

Instead, take a cue from Tom Petty, and read a good book, watch a classic movie or a documentary, listen to some great music.

If you eat clean, you’ll feel better.

Wally-World… or zero degrees of separation

40 years ago, the movie Stripes started shooting in Louisville, Kentucky. And my buddy Walter was in it – he shot a scene with Bill Murray.

Walt’s scene is one of the first ones in the movie – he and another kid get in Bill Murray’s cab, then run away without paying the fare when they reach their destination.

White pants were “in” back in 1980!

A TV station is Louisville published some archival footage of the 1980 news story about the movie production. Wally’s interviewed in this clip:

You’d think that brush with stardom would be enough for one person. But no, that’s not how Walter rolls. You see, when Wally was just a wee lad, his parents were close friends with another family that had a son a year or two older than Walter. Kid’s name was Tom. Tom Cruise. I hear he turned out to be quite the party boy in high school.

Walter has a picture of him and Tom Cruise together, from Wally’s 6th birthday party.

Walter also was a high school football star in Louisville. And he’s been an attorney, a teacher, a football coach, and a border patrol agent. He’s packed a lot of action into his 56 years.

Ol’ Willie Shakes is right, “all the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players”… but in my next life, I want Walter’s agent.

It’s all over but the crying…

None of us should be surprised that Donald Trump is protesting the election results. It’s par for the course for “Denyin’ Donnie.” Oh, and speaking of par for the course:

The Trumpster Fire’s ego won’t allow him to admit defeat. It should come as a shock to absolutely no one. He and his nattering nabobs of negativism (and nepotism too!) have been denying science for four years (climate change, COVID), so why should we expect them to accept simple math.

Maybe instead of watching Faux News, Denyin’ Donnie should change the channel to Sesame Street and brush up on his counting skills.

“You lost by nearly six million… ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!”

True to form, the alleged “leaders” within the hollowed out husk of what once was the Republican party (Turtle Boy Mitch and his reptile friends) are aiding and abetting the latest Trump Tantrum. Because they care more about political power than they care about doing the right thing.

It’d be “sad, very sad” if it weren’t so nefarious.

“The result is crystal clear and, yet, the incumbent is creating ambiguity by baseless claims.”

 Ryan Enos, a Harvard social scientist

“I would not consider this a grassroots movement by any means. Stop the Steal is a highly coordinated partisan political operation intent on bringing together conspiracy theorists, militias, hate groups and Trump supporters to attack the integrity of our election.”

Ben Decker, the CEO and founder of Memetica, a digital investigations consultancy, in this CNN article.

Here are the facts, from a joint statement from ELECTIONS INFRASTRUCTURE GOVERNMENT COORDINATING COUNCIL & THE ELECTION INFRASTRUCTURE SECTOR COORDINATING EXECUTIVE COMMITTEES:

The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history. Right now, across the country, election officials are reviewing and double checking the entire election process prior to finalizing the result.

When states have close elections, many will recount ballots. All of the states with close results in the 2020 presidential race have paper records of each vote, allowing the ability to go back and count each ballot if necessary. This is an added benefit for security and resilience. This process allows for the identification and correction of any mistakes or errors. There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.

Maybe it’s better that Denyin’ Donnie is focused on fake fraud. It’ll leave him with less time to fire more government employees who have “betrayed” him, take away healthcare from millions during a pandemic, gut any remaining regulations that hamstring the unfettered greed his cronies, and pardon the unpardonable (including himself).

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