Thursday, September 21, 2006

It's Pronounced Nah-No-Bite

This is the deal that I have with my cell phone company. I give them money every month. In return, the company gives me spotty service and occasionally turns off my number for no reason whatsoever. Also, when I visit the company in person, the customer service people make me wait in an hour-long line.

I apparently like this deal because I keep signing two year contracts.

This arrangement was frustrating until I learned that there is a proper way to visit your cell phone store. There is a way to shorten the amount of time you wait in line and achieve some actual customer satisfaction. Simply put, you take a few ill-behaved kids with you. Me? I just happen to have a couple of those laying around my house.

Let's say my cell phone has mysteriously stopped displaying numbers on the screen. The first thing I do is to feed my four year-old son and two year-old daughter cookies for breakfast. Then, when my wife is not watching, we play a quick game I like to call "Who Can Drink Daddy's Coffee?" . Shortly after that, I let the kids watch "Ed, Edd and Eddy" because it puts them in the right frame of mind.

Then we go to my cell phone store. We arrive early, but there's still a line. That's not a problem because my kids need time to...percolate. I take a number and sit down. I am 19th in line.

"Hey, kids," I say. "Who wants to go to the toy store after we're through here?"

I look around and see all the women in the room smiling at me. They see a father lovingly guiding his two rambunctious young children. But they're wrong. I have no real control over my children now. As far as my kids are concerned, I'm just a giant talking wallet with set of car keys. Ironically, this is the exactly how my cell phone company views me.

I once read an article about nano-technology. Scientists are working on building tiny, never-sleeping robots that can disassemble and reassemble things on a molecular level. My kids, when they're bored, are exactly like that - only without the reassemble part. My kids start with signs at the front of the store and quickly move to cell phone models that line the cheery, modern kiosks.

Every now and then, I say, "No. Stop. Don't." But I don't mean it - not really.

Within minutes, I move from 19th to number one. No one complains.

The customer service agent eyes me warily and says, "I think your son is peeing in our fake plants."

I shrug. "Unfortunately, my wife and I cannot guarantee parental coverage in all areas. Please try again later."

A few minutes later, I'm walking out with a kid under each arm and new cell phone. From behind me, I can hear the manager.

"Your daughter broke one of our flip phones. It will need to be replaced."

"Yeah, she broke mine, too," I say without turning around. "You should really look into cell phone insurance. It comes in handy."

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Apply This Blog Directly to Forehead

Every now and then you see something that screams "innovation". Every now and then you see something that smacks you in the head and demands that you bow to one knee because you are in the presence of genius.

This is probably not one of those things. This will probably be merely interesting. Sort of.

I refer, of course, to my new favorite commercial for my new favorite product - Head On. For those you haven't seen the commercial, I'll sum it up. The commercial shows only one thing, a woman applying what looks like a huge tube of lip balm to her forehead. While she does this, a spokeswoman says "Head On - apply directly to the forehead." And, in case you miss the meaning, the makers of the commercial have helpfully added a big yellow arrow pointing roughly to the area of the woman's forehead and the tube of stuff she's applying there. And then, they repeat the clip.

Here's the mildly interesting part - never once does anyone make an actual claim about what Head On actually does. Is it for headaches? I don't know. Is it sunscreen? I don't know. In effect, this commercial is the purest commercial ever made. It says, "Hey, we've got a product. Just buy it."

Grim Richard's Irregulars has always strived for the same heights in mediocrity. The very title admits that sometimes I get around to posting, and sometimes I don't. In fact, Grim Richard's may be the only blog ever that has held a contest, reviewed entries and awarded a prize without ever getting around to publishing the results of that contest. In fact, I'm not even sure if the winner knew why I sent him a package in the mail.

Que Sera, Homeys.

So apply this directly to your foreheads. I have been inspired to place an ad banner campaign for Grim Richard's Irregulars (maybe inspired is too strong a word. Maybe induced is better). But I don't want the ads to send people running to our beloved site. I want our perspective readers to barely feel the urge to click on the ad banners and come to our site - a feeling that's probably familiar to many of our readers.

That's right. It's another contest. Write a blurb for a Grim Richard's Irregulars ad banner in the style of the Head On commercial. The winner will have their copy used (eventually, without any sort of compensation, naturally) on an ad banner on another site. Here's a few pieces of copy I thought of:

  • Grim Richard's Irregulars. It's a blog. You read it.
  • Grim Richard's Irregulars. You might like it. You might not.

And finally, my favorite is a white ad banner that says, "Huh? What?"

Send those ideas to Or don't. Whatever.

Friday, September 01, 2006

My Oil Rigs Bring All the Boys to the Loft

My 40th birthday is on the horizon. In honor of that auspicious occasion, my in-laws had a high definition television delivered to our house and set up in our loft room by professionals. I mention this for a couple of reasons.

First, if you've naively entered your in-laws in this year's National Cool In-Laws Competition, I urge you to un-register them now. That contest has been won handily by my in-laws. Better luck next year.

Second, I want to acknowledge that, since I work for a cable company, I probably should have gotten one of these new-fangled high def sets much earlier than this. Perhaps I didn't because I'm old and easily confused by the rapidly moving images, confound it. Let's take MTV, for instance. Who is Kelis? Why does she make such a good milkshake that all the boys come to her yard? Just what is in those damn milkshakes?

I have no idea.

All I know is that high definition television is hypnotic. My family and I spent an hour last night watching a PBS documentary on oil rigs. At least I think they were oil rigs. I didn't really pay attention to what the narrators were saying, but I did see lots of beautiful red pipes and shiny oil.

Oh, I noticed one other thing about the new high definition television. My two year-old daughter Riley wants to bust it.

I see her edging closer to it every time I'm out of the room. I see her flexing her tiny hands in anticipation of touching the fragile screen. I can see her mind wrestling with important questions. Will she, for instance, begin by smearing on a tomato-based sauce of some kind or perhaps lay out a base underpainting of natural skin oil?

I realize now why I didn't get a high def television sooner.