Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Medicare Back Brace Scammers Called Me

A rep from some back brace insurance scam called me. I put Otto on to handle the call. His told the rep that his back has indeed been hurting ever since he was on the toilet making poopies and fell off. He kept wanting to tell her about his Beanie Babies, and even hoped that he might be able to get a Beanie Baby Back Brace, but the rep just didn't want to listen. She also kept pronouncing his name as "Arthur" rather than "Otto". I kept her on the phone for about 8 minutes. Once an American rep took over, the call was ended quickly.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Jones Good Ass BBQ and Foot Massage

For a brief moment, I actually thought that Jones Good Ass BBQ and Foot Massage was a real commercial. It was done in the spirit of the 80's era Chicagoland commercials like Moo and Oink, Eagle Insurance and Victory Auto Wreckers. The Jones Good Ass BBQ and Foot Massage commercial even features a real phone number and an an actual address, just 20 minutes from the old homestead! If Tony Jones hadn't said "shit" in the commercial, I would have been completely convinced and I'd have taken suggestions from my fans (both of them) on what to bring down to Jones Good Ass BBQ and Foot Massage to have Toby fry up for me.

Alas, this dangling carrot of awesomeness is not real. It's the brain child of Big Dog Eat Child, a Chicago area sketch comedy group. Toby Jones is portrayed by stand up comedian, Robert L. Hines. Hines has done a number of other Toby Jones commercials for Big Dog Eat Child including Jones’ Big Ass Truck Rental and Storage and Jones' Cheap Ass Prepaid Legal and Daycare Academy.

Here's a link to the Jones' Good Ass BBQ and Foot Massage video.


If you're interested in checking out some classic Chicagoland commercials, be sure to check out my Classic Chicagoland Commercials playlist on Youtube.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Yanny Vs Laurel

I haven't paid much attention to the Yanny vs Laurel debate that has erupted over my Facebook feed lately. In fact, I thought that the Yanny vs Laurel debate had something to do with American Idol finalists. I hadn't paid that much attention to the noise about the whole debate through, so, when my daughter finally played the audio sample for me last night, I was finally let in on the latest fad that has been taking the Internet by storm.

Apparently, this whole thing began on Reddit when the poster of that thread had recorded the video by playing the vocabulary.com pronunciation guide to “laurel” through their speakers. The original poster also had friends saying they heard "yanny" from the vocabulary.com audio. Youtube star, Cloe Feldman happened onto the thread, created the poll and it went viral.

So, you might ask whether I hear "Yanny" or "Laurel" on the clip. My answer to that is "neither". Instead, I hear something akin to "9/11 Was An Inside Job", though, I must admit, my hearing isn't what it used to be. Still, I hate to admit it, but I have to say that I'm a bit disappointed that Yanny won't be winning American Idol this year.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Home Solar Panel Sales Calls Me

Otto got a call from a sales woman working for a home solar panel installation service. When she asked for Otto, I told her that he was an old man who shits himself, but, if she wanted to talk to him, that would be okay. She got a little defensive, and, by the time Otto answered the phone, she decided to hang up.


Monday, May 14, 2018

Surfing On The Humane Van In GTA V

I'm incredibly late to Grand Theft Auto V. I had played it on Playstation 3 a few years back and didn't get very far before I purchased my PS4. At that point, I didn't want to double dip the game, but I just never got back to playing GTA V. I finally broke down and bought GTA V for the PS4 earlier this month and have been steadily making progress on the single player missions. I've also been playing with the Rockstar Editor which allows you to do all sorts of things with your game play clips like change camera angles, add filters and substitute music. This can make for some pretty epic videos.

To that effect, I've made a video my my mission to steal the knockout gas from the Humane van. It's a pre-heist mission that Michael De Santa must complete in order to proceed to The Jewel Store Job. In order to steal the gas from the van, it's suggested that you tail the van, shoot the doors open from your car and then pick up the canisters that drop out. I misunderstood and thought that you needed to get the van to stop, then shoot the doors, then open the doors, take the gas canisters, jump back into your car and leave. You could just hijack the van, but that forces you to confront the driver who is armed and armored, gives you a higher wanted level than shooting the doors from your car, and forces you to try to elude the cops while driving the van.

In this clip, I have stopped the van, shot the doors, and attempted to open them manually. Instead of opening the doors, I climbed on top of the van. Once I did that, the van started moving again. I expected to be thrown from the van rather quickly, but, when that didn't happen, I decided to try to shoot the driver through the roof of the van. When that didn't work, I thought that, if I shot at the passenger side of the van, the GTA V A.I. would read it as an attack from a car and would try to swerve to get out of the way, which would possibly cause one of the A.I. cars to crash into the van. It worked pretty well, as the van swerved, got T-boned by one of the A.I. cars and threw me from the roof. The driver got out, we had a brief firefight and I jumped into the van and took off.


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Another Toys R Us Tour

While I was in Bloomington, IL for my TSA pre-Check interview, I decided to stop at the local Toys R Us to see how their liquidation sale was going. When I got there at 10:00am, there were about 8 people waiting for Toys R Us to open. Inside, markdowns of 20% - 40% off meant that there were finally some decent deals to be had. There was a lot of stock still on the shelves and in the walkways.




Monday, May 7, 2018

TSA Pre-Check Interview

About a month ago, my daughter an I arrived at the New Orleans airport three hours early for our flight. She had automatically gotten TSA Pre-Check status, probably because she's a minor. I, however, did not get the same courtesy, so, we had to wade through the security line with the rest of the plebs. The line was so long that we almost missed our flight. Never again.

I signed up for TSA Pre-Check. The program allows you to skip the line and go through an expedited security line instead. Most TSA PreCheck members go through their line in about 5 minutes. The first thing you do is sign up via the TSA PreCheck website. Once you submit your application, you pick a time and location to go in for an "interview". You pick an airport or some other TSA office to go to and then set a date. You have to bring a valid TSA compliant ID and $85.

Today, I had my interview. I had prepared for something at least a little intense. I figured I'd be asked about my parents, grand-parents and any criminal history. Nope. They just took my money, scanned my ID and finger-printed me. I was in and out of there in 15 minutes, 5 of which was me bantering with the TSA agent. Now, my info goes to the TSA for approval and, hopefully, within a week, I get my status.

Honestly, this all seems kind of scammy to me. You have to pay $85 for the privilege of the TSA running a background check on you? Is it worth it just to get through the security line quicker? Yes, yes, yes and MORE yes. I hear that I might not even have to take off my shoes.

EDIT: Not even one week later, I was notified via e-mail that I have been approved for TSA PreCheck and have received my Known Traveler Number (KTN). The next step is to input that number into my accounts with various airlines so that, the next time I fly, my ticket will indicate that I can skip the pleb line.

Monday, April 30, 2018

The Betsy DeVos Institute For Privileged Children

I made a new commercial lampooning US Department Of Education Secretary, Betsy DeVoss. It's basically a takedown of her handling of the Department and what her philosophy on Educational standards seems to be. Have a look for yourself:

Friday, April 27, 2018

Some Energy Bill Scammer Called Me

Some scammer offering to reduce my energy bill called me. I handed him over to "Otto". The scammer didn't want to hear about Otto's Beanie Baby collection, his lactose intolerance, or his tendency to crap his pants. The rep realized that he was out of his element and handed Otto off to a supervisor where Otto explained it all again.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Uranus Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If I were still in grade school, the latest news about the seventh planet in our solar system would make me laugh so hard, I'd get sent to the principal's office. Again. You see, scientists have recently discovered that Uranus' upper atmosphere is composed largely of hydrogen sulfide, the molecule that makes rotten eggs smell so stinky. So, essentially, Uranus smells like rotten eggs. Oh, the fun I would have had with this news back in the day:

"Hey, teacher! They say Uranus smells like rotten eggs! They're going to probe Uranus just to be sure!"


The funny thing is, Uranus is also an incredibly windy planet. Winds on Uranus can get up to around 1500 mph. So, basically, it's windy, it's a gas giant, and it's named Uranus. It's basically the gnarliest fart ever ripped in space.

Monday, April 23, 2018

A Walk Around Lafayette Cemetery #1

I had been thinking about my most recent trip to New Orleans and had been lamenting all of the things that we did not get to do while we were there. Easter Weekend put a pretty big crimp in our plans with lots of places closing early on Holy Thursday, remaining closed on Good Friday and through Easter Sunday. I had hoped to do a tour of the Old Ursuline Convent, but it was closed on Easter Monday. We had to settle for the Beauregard-Keyes house across the street. We actually hadn't meant to get a tour, I just had gone up to the porch in order to get a better picture of the Old Ursuline Convent and somehow got driven like stray cattle into the tour of the Beauregard-Keyes house.

One of the other things I had hoped to do was take a walk around Lafayette Cemetery #1. I have visited the site a number of times over the years and have a great story about the first time I went there in 2010 that deserves its own video and would a great into to a video tour of Lafayette Cemetery #1. Unfortunately, the itinerary got switched around too much due to Easter closings and we weren't able to get out there. Yet, while going through a bunch of my old, unpublished Youtube videos, I ran into a walkthrough I did of Lafayette Cemetery #1 back in 2012 with my brother, ChrisMac. I don't know why I never published the walkthrough. If I had to guess, it was because the wind ruined what little narration I was providing.

Still, it's a nice video, and I think it shows some beautiful tombs, thus, it deserves its time to shine. So, here it is, with some new background music in order to mask the heavy winds:


Thursday, April 19, 2018

A Quiet Place

I saw A Quiet Place is past weekend. It's a horror film directed by John Krasinski who also stars with his real-life wife Emily Blunt as parents who are trying to protect their family in a post-apocalyptic world where they must live in silence while hiding from creatures that hunt exclusively by sound. For such an intimate and simple story, this movie is really well crafted. Your experience in watching it is largely going to be dictated by your immediate environment in which your watching it. My daughter and I saw this in a packed theater on a Saturday night and the rattling of snack bags and the whispers of inconsiderate patrons and the occasional cell phone light really distracted from the experience. Still, I liked the movie overall and appreciated what it was trying to do and the message it was trying to convey (the importance of family, etc etc).

What I really liked about A Quiet Place was the amount of detail that has been put into executing the premise. That being said, the small touches that the movie uses makes it frustrating to think of the premise in a larger context. A Quiet Place starts out with everyone playing Monopoly using cloth tokens instead of the standard ones. Okay, so the fear is that monsters might hear the tokens being jaunted across the board and attack? If that's the case, then how does one handle snoring or farting which are noises that are certainly louder than token-skomping. And you can't tell me that the family can harvest the crops they are growing without making a sound greater than moving a Monopoly token, even if they do it by hand. If louder sounds in the vicinity mask the quieter sounds around them, then why not broadcast the sound of running water around the farm rather than worrying about running a lighting system?

There are a lot more nerdy nit-picks that I can make, and I'm sure that there are people out there more observant than me who can pick out even more than what I noticed. But, you can't let those nits take you out of the movie. So, turn off your brain, go to the theater when few people will be there, and go see A Quiet Place.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A Tour Of A Toys R Us

Toys R Us is in the middle of closing all of their stores and liquidating all of their inventory. The thing about liquidation sales is that they don't automatically mean you'll be getting a super low price. At least, not right away. A liquidation sale means that merchandise that was marked down before the liquidation are no longer marked down. The original price of the merchandise goes back up to 100%, and then the price gradually falls. The liquidator will first mark items down to 10% off, then 20%, finally escalating to some actual deals that might even beat sale prices elsewhere.

When I visited the Toys R Us in Orland Park, IL, there liquidation sale was still at the 10% phase. A lot of merchandise was still on the shelves. The place was pretty active for an early Saturday night. Follow along with me as I take a quick tour of the Toys R Us in Orland Park, IL.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Lost In Space

I binge watched the new Netflix original series, Lost In Space, this weekend. It's based upon the television series from the '60s that follows the adventures of the Robinson family, stow-away Dr. Smith and The Robot aboard their ship, Jupiter 2, as they try to find their way to their colony in the Alpha Centauri system. The 2018 update has the family assigned to a colonial group with several other colonists and Jupiter vessels aboard a mothership named Resolute. Overall, the 2018 reboot series is pretty good and evokes some nice callbacks to the original Lost in Space series, including Billy Mummy, who played Will Robinson in the original series, playing the "real" Dr. Smith in the reboot.

I have to admit that I almost stopped watching the show during the pilot. The science was so far off, that I was finding it hard to suspend disbelief. For example:


  • Temperatures in the area that the Robinsons landed are stated to be -60 C. I can buy that their suits would keep them warm, but, I find it hard to believe that they could remove their helmets and not have the urge to at least cover their ears or the top of their heads somehow. 

  • Judy Robinson becomes trapped in a glacial lake that is rapidly freezing. In the show, the lake freezes from the bottom up. In actuality, water freezes from the top down. The lake she's in can't be liquid carbon dioxide because carbon dioxide can't exist in that state under standard Earth pressure/temperature. You'd need an atmospheric pressure of 5 times that of Earth's in order to get carbon dioxide to a liquid state. 

  • Will Robinson has the brilliant idea to ignite some magnesium to use as a heat source to melt the ice and free his sister. He says something along the lines of "Do you know what happens when magnesium meets ice? It burns even hotter". Problem is, that only happens with dry ice, which is frozen carbon dioxide (2Mg + CO2 -> 2MgO + C). 
Once you get past the pilot episode, the subsequent episodes are pretty good. I like the dysfunctional family dynamic, I like the slow reveal of what happened to Earth and the nature of the aliens. And I hate Dr. Smith in a way that I haven't hated a villain since Gaius Baltar on the Battlestar Galactica reboot or Kai Winn on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I found the ending of the season finale to be a little bland and predictable, and I found the back and forth with the robot (He's gone....no he's back...no he's gone again....no he's back again..aaaaaaand GONE! For now!) to be a bit much. 

Overall, I think you'll enjoy Lost In Space if you can take the time to binge watch it and turn off your brain a little. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Car Warranty Scammer Calls Me

A rep from one of those fly-by-night car warranty companies called me. They call me about once a week and usually hang up once I start going into one of my characters. This time, however, the rep took the bait.

The rep asked for Thomas Mac and I then came on trying to sound like a crazy, doddering old man. She asks me about my Mustang and I start going on about the joys of driving a convertible. She asked how many miles I had on the Mustang and I tried to wax philosophical. I spent a good 10 minutes going off on tangents, the funniest being when I kept trying to figure the origin of her first name.  Whenever she'd try to connect me with a specialist, I'd misunderstand and start complaining about my medical problems.