Monday, March 30, 2009

Yeah, Not Everyone's a Photographer

Corps of Cadets, Army-Navy game, Philadelphia, date unknown

Despite the fact that we all have access to good gear and fine editing software, photography is still an art form that requires skill. I have a decent camera, but I can't call myself a photographer. Point and shoot all you want, you won't get images like these without someone behind the camera knowing what they're doing. Found via Twitter by a guy who follows me and who I followed back. Northeasterners needing a photog, think about Chris Sembrot.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Our Special Guacamolito Sauce

Before there was This is Why You're Fat, there was this, from SNL.

This is Why You're Fat, however, has fast become a parody of itself, much like Passive Aggressive Notes. They both remind me of the old America's Funniest Home Videos show, which started innocently enough, and then became a repository of staged and fake videos, people desperate for a chance at the prize money. "Oh no! That tree fell right onto that old car? Everyone act amazed and alarmed!" But who cuts down a tree next to an old car - with a camera rolling? Now it's just people desperate for a chance at ten seconds of notoriety on a fleeting website, creating fake funny notes or disgusting recipes.

I mean really, tempura fried cheesecake with whipped cream?

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Band Names from Google News

A neglected feature, now nearing 200 entries, for all you post-punk-neo-soul-ska-garage-death-speed-alt-pop-emo-hair-scene-scream-hip-R&B-hop-heavy-Americana artists seeking a catchy name for your group/act. Or maybe you just need to rebrand. Your name was cool a few years ago, but maybe "Black Socks Bedroom Floor" was a little too out there.

The gist: scan Google News headlines and find names that would evoke intrigue and prompt the teeming masses to buy your shirts, wear your hats, attend your shows and maybe, just maybe, make you a profit. (With links to the actual news items.)

Increasingly Perilous
The Meat Plants
Leaked Memo
A Year in Prison
Doggy Damage
Ready to Cooperate
Their Own Monarchs

Here are 186 other choices.

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Cold Call Carl - No. 7

Our boy is out of work, calling on old acquaintances to help him out, hoping to secure that elusive job that requires he do nothing more than talk a good line of crap.

More Cold Call Carl

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Where's My Creativity Magazine?

Brian, aka @askacopywriter, sent me this image of the latest issue of Creativity. I will assume that's Brian's thumb in the corner.

Brian claims to be a copywriter, but from what I've seen at his blog, he can't possibly spend more than 10 minutes a day writing copy. He's too busy wandering the streets and subways of NYC, documenting ads and uploading them.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

You're Tearing Me Apart, Lisa

Having no hipster credentials, I am only now, this minute, discovering The Room, bad cinema at it's baddest. So bad it's a cult hit. So bad they have monthly screenings in LA that are attended in Rocky Horror fashion. So bad even the voiceover for the trailer is laughable. So bad that the creator now says "I meant to do that." (And altered the trailer at the end to indicate that his movie is a "black comedy.")

It's kind of sad, really, that a guy set out to create something giant, seeking to emulate his hero Tennessee Williams, and his work is now famous for it's awfulness. I hope he finally sees some profit for all his pain. This is what the incredibly narcissistic writer, director, producer and star did for $6 million.

A thorough history of The Room is written by Scott Tobias at The Onion's AV Club. Beyond that is a piece at Entertainment Weekly, in which all the cool kid comedians have a laugh at the movie, including Paul Rudd, comedian du jour, no stranger to truly awful cinema.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Submitted for Banning - With Footnotes

These things:
While we're at it, let's get rid of silhouettes of your child/teenager's sport, with their name (invariably "Ashleigh" or "Hunter") underneath.1 Also, (respectfully) might we consider getting rid of tributes to Dale Earnhardt on the back of your car/truck/SUV?2

I predict that in the future, people will simply have their twitter handle on the back of their car, so you can message them while driving down the highway: "@jetpacks: saw you getting pulled over this morning on I4 by cop on motorcycle.3 Too bad you're not a chick and couldn't cry your way out of ticket4. Haha!"

1. Attention American Parents with Sports-Playing Kids:
It's the family car, not a shrine to your overindulged child.

2. Attention Dale Earnhardt Fans:
He's dead. I'm sorry. What is your point?

3. Attention Motorcycle Cop on I4 This Morning: Thanks for the ticket. I will definitely heed your advice and start driving 55.

4. Attention Angry Feminists:
Please keep in mind that most women have at least one story of getting out of a ticket, whereas few men do.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Seeking Pizza Blogger

Actual job listing on Craigslist:

Needed: a part-time blogger to help set up and run a blog. Flexible hours and working environment. Must have blogging experience and also must have prior or current working experience in a pizza restaurant.

Over the weekend, we went to a new restaurant in the neighborhood. A jazz trio played indoors, the wait staff dressed all in black while a couple of ladies lingered over a glass of wine on the patio for an hour, their Golden Retriever at their feet. From the name of the place, to the atmosphere to the overuse of the word "artisan," this restaurant was trying way too hard. Their interactive agency, who boast knowing all about "Web 2.0," also talked them into a bunch of blogs, none of which have been updated in a few months.

It ain't working, people. Blogging for your business because someone told you to, with a careful eye toward not offending anyone while promoting your business is not effective, a waste of time and soon abandoned.

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Like a Good Neighbor, State Farm Acts Like They Don't Know You

State Farm Insurance, the "good neighbor" people, have decided that Florida's just too risky a place to offer homeowner's insurance, what with the hurricanes, wildfires, falling space debris and whatnot.

One insurance company's weasely exit is a local independent's entrance, who've begun running radio ads for "Dropped By the Farm." It looks like a hastily assembled operation, complete with sad logo and sad stock photography of a sad couple reading a sad letter from State Farm, a sad company.

Dear Mr. & Mrs Loyal Customer Who Always Paid Their Dues on Time and Never Filed a Claim:

We have enjoyed taking your money here at State Farm, but from now on, you're on your own. Seems hurricanes and stuff like that are cutting into our massive profits and that shit don't wash at State Farm.

Fuck you very much.


State Farm

Our super-tanned, anorexic, not-gay, very-happily-married Governor, Charlie Crist, is getting in some parting jabs at the mafia-esque State Farm: "They probably charge about the highest rates in the state, anyway," Crist said after State Farm announced its exit strategy. Ooooh! Buuuuurn!

Also, State Farm is recalling 800,000 Teddy Bears because the eyes come off and choke little babies to death. The bears are called "good neigh bears." Seriously. That's as stupid a name as State Farm's logo is a hideous mass of twisted red trash.

Way to go, State Farm.

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Polaroids From the Past

Perhaps a news series. We'll see.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

It's Not a Magic Refrigerator

I might have to order some custom labels for my next case of water.

Is that your pineapple juice? No! I didn't think so!
Firing squad executes office 'fridge thief.

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Please Submit a Drawing of Your Raccoon Extermination Plan

All the good female comedians leave SNL and get better gigs, as the word on the street is that Lorne Michaels is a tightwad, egomaniacal bastard. OK, not true for Cheri Oteri, Ana Gasteyer, Nora Dunn, Jan Hooks and Maya Rudolph, although Rudolph's new movie looks promising in an indie-arthouse-under-the-radar-selected-cities kind of way. I guess I'm only thinking of Tina Fey. And now Amy Poehler.

In a bit of well-done advance press for Poehler's new sitcom "Parks and Recreation," NBC has created a subtle and wry site that mimics well the small, Midwestern city government website. It's fictitious Pawnee, Indiana, complete with a fake city seal depicting dead buffalo and denuded forests courtesy of the white man. The comedy is scattered in lightly in that Onion-y way, making people like me (who used to read Mad magazine cover to cover and even in the margins for fear of missing a hidden joke) scour the whole thing for cheap chuckles. And of course you can follow the upcoming show on Twitter.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Craft Time at "Where's My Jetpack"

I would imagine that in the coming days of lost jobs, darkened skies and disconnected cable boxes, entertainment will be in short supply. So indulge me for a moment while I share something I probably picked up in food service years ago.

This simple little mealtime craft never fails to entertain children and grown men. Grown women usually feign disgust, though they secretly enjoy it, too. Your nieces, nephews, children and grandchildren (as well as your drinking buddies) will find this hilarious. I've been "performing" this bit for a long time, and I still get a kick out of it.

Previously in "My Stunted Middle School Humor":
Bare-breasted Land O' Lakes Lady
Homemade Near-death Experience

Closing theme music is here.

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You Could Spend Your Life Listening to Gurus

So you just left SXSW and you're down in the dumps 'cause now you have to actually go to work and pretend to apply all the fascinating things you "learned" at the conference? Why bother going back to work? There's another conference going on right now in NYC! (And look! They used the tired old "silhouetted young business people doing business in a take charge, business-like way" image. BONUS: The take charge business-doers are reflected in the floor in a very serious Web 2.0 way.)

Your average social media guru has 15,000 followers on Twitter. (Thankfully, I'm not following them.) But he is, in short, a bullshit artist. He's got his hands in every new thing that comes around, but I don't think he could show you a single case study of how any of it has "worked" for a client. He was one of the first to tell everyone they needed a blog. And then corporate blogging failed. He was early on the podcast bandwagon. And then corporate podcasting failed. He thought everyone should create their own branded social networks, until it became obvious that not too many people wanted to join a brand's "community." Undeterred, he created numerous fake profiles and spent his days "seeding" comments on forums and blogs. His clients employ him for as long as it takes to uncover his game, or until his iron-clad three-month contract is over. He is adept at making himself look important and in another time he'd have been the perfect carpet-bagging seller of Dr. Swindle's Cure-All Tonic.

Now maybe there are some people out there selling social media consulting services who are actually telling clients stuff that their teenage kids couldn't tell them. Maybe there are "strategies" that aren't obvious to the average Joe, Jim, Khalid and Britte. (Actually, I can think of a couple of practitioners who are on the right path. They don't create the illusion of mystery and the're upfront with their audiences.)

Those of us who deride the consultants and their magic shows are branded "old-school" or "resistant." But I've seen nothing from the new school that warrants four conferences a month and a growing army of "experts."

There is no old vs new in this. It's just new packaging for an old product. The principles should remain the same: treat your potential customers with respect; make them laugh or tug their heart-strings as you're getting their attention; don't hide behind a bunch of fine print; and if they become customers and then complain, resolve their problem, refunding their purchase in full if need be.

Call it "the conversation" if you have to, but it's nothing more than old-school customer service.

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Samsung Doin' The Viral Thing

With me playing into their hands, but only because unlike most "viral" efforts, this one is actually good. Ostensibly, this is to promote Samsung's new line of LED TVs. The YouTube user named "BaaaStuds" joined only last week and tells you to visit, which does not exist.

As one commenter says on YouTube, "Only in Wales," which is likely a polite English way of accusing Welshmen of sheep-shagging.


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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Irreverence is in the Eye of the Beholder

Iconic images are used in ads all the time. Think Che, Obama, or as Copyranter points out today, the Mona Lisa. This might work as a Good Friday ad in predominantly Catholic, Spanish speaking countries.

Previously in "Jesus Likes Beer":
Jesus is Bringing You a Case of Heinies.
The Church of Heineken

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Monday, March 16, 2009

So I Hear There's This Thing in Austin

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

And The Book of Faces Shall Devour Many

Future Man travels back in time, hoping to prevent the masses from being tricked by the devious plans of the diabolical mastermind Zuckerberg.

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So When Your Monkeys are Bad...Do You Spank Them?

A monkey escapes because he was mad at the PETA lady?

Wait? There's actually a "Liebling Family Circus" at the "Fruitland Park Flea Market."

What? The monkey is married?

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Note to Self

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When I, You and Everyone We Knew

A couple of my friends on Facebook, working out and going to work this morning.

I was friended yesterday by a guy I knew years ago. He's got like 2,000 friends now. I haven't heard from him in nine years, but we're friends again, free to peer into one another's work-out schedules and look at pictures of each other's parties, holidays and vacations.

It's to the point now that everyone you ever came in contact with, from the doctor who presided at your birth to the last business contact you made at a mixer, is now your "friend." I'm predicting massive Facebook bailout pretty soon. We're way past the saturation point.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

They Call it "Stock" Photography For a Reason

I am rewriting an old ad. The old ad uses the “plant in hands with a little soil” image. I trust we are changing that, too.

I could go on and on and get all crazy on a rant about lack of creativity and being stupid and using the expected, like a guy climbing a mountain to illustrate a financial services ad or two hands shaking (one white, one black) to show your “client services” page or maybe a smiling woman (Hispanic) with a headset for your “contact us” image, but I’m not going to rant. No. But is available if you'd like to start a new stock photography company (or a site about stupid ads).

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Nope - Ain't Seen No Jetpacks Yet

In the last couple of days, I've had friends send me messages via Facebook, Twitter and email regarding this story from The Wall Street Journal. It's very similar to a story done in July of last year by The New York Times—and it's the same old story, "Everyone wants a jetpack - but jetpacks suck really bad right now."

Because of the title of this blog, I've been quoted in a book about Jetpacks.

There's another book about Jetpacks whose title is the same as this blog. (I was first.)

And there will also always be crappy jetpack announcements from starry-eyed inventors. But none of the jetpacks fly very far for very long, they're usually tethered, and they're usually priced at about $250,000.

When I was in 2nd grade, I checked out a tattered old book from the Fort Lewis, Washington Elementary School Library called Skyjets for Fliers of Tomorrow. It told the tale of two kids who got mail-order flight suits and went flying around their town, visited their grandma and were home in time for dinner. (Images on this post from that book.) I guess that book started me wishing I could fly, but it's really an ancient and universal dream - personal flight. And it hasn't happened yet. Not to any satisfactory degree, anyway. I mean, who wants to fly only over a lake tethered to a giant hose sucking water from the lake?

The only way I will stop asking the question “Where’s My Jetpack?” is when jetpacks are affordable to common clowns like you and me and will safely convey us to and from our places of employment or the grocery store. It would also be nice if they didn’t sound like F-18s at full throttle and could fly for longer than a couple minutes on a tank of fuel. Another real benefit would be if they were available at Wal-Mart. I want them easy enough to operate that my Mom could handle one.

But more than that, the question “Where’s My Jetpack?” is at its heart a joke. The jetpack is simply a symbol of all the other things that were supposed to be here by now, promised to us by the advertisers, by Disney, by the government and all the other dreamers. As it says over in the sidebar under “Bascially...”: “The future is now, and we’re still waiting.”

It's all explained in the lyrics to this blog's theme song.

UPDATE: And Hanna points out in the comments that Quaker just launched - haha - get it? "launched" - sorry - a campaign featuring a Jimmy Fallon lookalike wearing a Quaker Oats jetpack.

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Monday, March 09, 2009

If You Say It Like This, It's Probably Not True

You are cutting edge, eh? And hip as well?

From the job description:

We are a highly creative, cutting edge, hip, and young agency and we’re looking for someone to fit in effortlessly! Applicants must have a high tolerance for pranks, jokes, and the random mix of music we all play while working.

I'm all for a fun work environment and liking the people I work with, but I must edit you now:

We are a highly pretentious bunch of third-tier wankers, struggling to stay afloat in a world of better talent. We’re looking for someone fresh out of college willing to work for next-to-nothing while tolerating our self-satisfied smugness as we fart out loud and try to best each other with shitty indie music you've never heard.

If you're interested, the job is in Tallahassee and the posting is at Craigslist Orlando.

If you fit the bill, you will be awarded with a fake-candid black and white photograph on the company's "About Us" page, where a hip and irreverent bio about you will not be funny at all.

Previously: How to Start an Agency.

Image above from "Your Scene Sucks."

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No. Just...No.

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I'd Follow Your Tweets If I Wasn't a Stupid American

I will generally follow a follower, unless they are an obvious marketer or Demon Spam Rat. But in the past few days, I've been followed by people who tweet in German, Spanish and Japanese, none of which I can read.

Time for Rosetta Stone.

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Sunday, March 08, 2009

Hippie Bay Area Freaks Making Trippy Spots

A reader writes:

I'm not sure if you have Comcast in Florida, but their latest commercial is stuck in my brain...the tune is catchy and the animation is bizarre. People seem to either love it or hate it...thought you might get a kick out of it if you haven't seen it.

Nope, we have Bright House where I live - and they usually suck madly. I'm posting in the intermittent window of online availability that comes and goes with random predictability. A technician will be here Tuesday, between the hours of 8:00 AM and noon.

From the almost-always-geniuses at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.

Stuck in my head now.

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The Meatball and the Worm

For the design freaks out there, there's an interesting piece today in The New York Times Style Magazine by Alice Rawsthorn about NASA's identity crisis.

Although after reading, I'm still not sure why NASA holds on to this hyper-dated logo, or "insignia" as they call it. They sought to modernize it in 1972 as part of the Federal Design Improvement Program, an initiative supported by President Nixon to modernize the use of design by government agencies. After spending a ton of your money coming up with an alternative that works, they brought this thing back in the bad years of NASA (crashes) to remind people of the glory years. It just reminds me of bad design.

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Friday, March 06, 2009

George Stephanopoulos Thinks Dogs Are Cute

Celebrities on Twitter - I thought it was a good idea at first. I'm rethinking that now. Actual tweets from George Stuffin'envelopes in lower left of image.

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Grab a Shovel in the Shovel Ready Economy

Don't despair, out of work citizens. There are infrastructure jobs for the taking at, or so this banner ad would have you believe. You'll be building bridges and highways and windmills and solar panels and electric cars and housing for the evicted people. Gonna be a fun time in the world very shortly. This is only one of many helpful sites where friendly marketers are setting up link farms to a bunch of other places, their white spaces crammed with Google AdWords ads.

But it's better than it used to be, or so I hear. In the olden days, when your grandparents and great-grandparents were out of work and looking for "infrastructure jobs," they didn't have some fancy websites where they could pick and choose. They just went down to the government shack by the vegetable stand near the railroad tracks and stood in line for seven days. When they finally got to the window, some mean government employee handed them a piece of paper and said, "Hop the next train to Reno and find a Mr. Williams. He will put you to work. You will be given one bacon fat sandwich per day and a ration of water. Job pays 25¢ a week. And if you don't want the job, you lazy bastard, there's 500 people behind you that do. And bring your own shovel, numb nuts."

The government shack was also adorned with encouraging posters. This was before we realized what was happneing in Europe; when we shared with the Nazis a mutual love for scary patriotic slogans, militaristic fonts and workers depicted as robotic wards of the state.

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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Google Street Views Are Too Real Now

You ever click on a website, find the address and then just get curious as to what that location of the world looks like? I do that all the time, then I sometimes go exploring the neighborhood on Street View.

I was at an agency's website and saw the usual images of a bunch of hipsters in a cool brick building, being all cool and coolish in their hipster coolness, wearing their emo glasses and sporting their beards, being cool just down the street from the Vespa shop. A "walk" down the road led me to this beautful spot.

I think I preferred plain old-fashioned satellite view, where something was still left to the imagination.

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More Things The Obamas Like

During the campaign, we found out that Barack Obama likes fancy snacks and wussy teas. When he did eat—which was often an uncomfortable sight, not unlike watching an anorexic supermodel being force-fed a bacon cheeseburger—we noted his preferences. We learned of his bicycle, his clothing, his cars and his sunglasses. And sales of those things went up after they were revealed. So now the Obama girls have a new swingset.

In these trying times, a business needs all the exposure it can get, and hitching your wagon to the Obama train has proven successful for many fine merchants. I wouldn't recommend Rainbow Play Systems of South Dakota be super-shameless about the fact that the Obamas chose their company for a swingset, but maybe they could do some Direct Mail/Email Marketing along these lines.

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

All Your Cameo Roles Are Belonging to Will Ferrell

If, like me, you like your comedy wrong, rude, over-the-top, disgusting, completely inappropriate and yet surprisingly subtle at times, then you will enjoy HBO's new show Eastbound & Down, starring the mulleted special effects guy from Tropic Thunder, Danny McBride, and produced by Will Ferrell. It's the sort of material that makes you cringe and laugh at the same time, with McBride playing a washed up baseball star with no shortage of ego. It's not for everyone. Says one commenter at Entertainment Weekly:

ya always funny to see two idiots snorting coke, and what about the way he treats females & children? If you all think this is the funniest thing you've seen, then this world is really sad..

Why so serious?

Here's a non-broadcast bit featuring Ferrell as a Shelby, NC BMW dealer, mocking the local car dealer commercials we all know too well.

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A Strong and Simple Beat (That You Can Dance To)

Apple is pretty savvy when it comes to selecting hook-laden tunes for their iPhone ads. Well, let's face it: Apple is pretty savvy when it comes to everything. I prefer this upbeat number on their spots to the more subdued, hippie work of Orba Squara.

The Submarines: You, Me & the Bourgeoisie.

Call it "selling out", but a band can be made by commercials. From Spoon for Jaguar to Of Montreal for Outback Steakhouse, it's a double-dipping good deal: licensing and royalties for your music, then people hearing your music and wondering who you are and seeking out more. You gotta wonder how many people after seeing this ancient Rice Krispies commercial wondered, "I wonder who's playing that song?" Is J. Walter Thompson the devil who bought Mick's soul? Perhaps.

Can't afford some about-to-blow-up band's cool music on your less-than-Apple budget? Short custom compositions that set the proper mood for your production are a great way to go.

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Monday, March 02, 2009

People I Wouldn't Mind Seeing Die Tonight on 24

It's a two-hour SuperExtravaganza episode of Fox's 24 starting NOW. Since the Fox writers have given us so many reprehensible and unsavory characters this season, I think the following people are expendable:

  • The weasel FBI punk who was in on it
  • The redheaded FBI chick
  • Madame President Alison Taylor
  • The President's bratty daughter
  • The President's extremely questionable, if not corrupt Chief of Staff
  • Tony Almeida - AGAIN. This time in tiny pieces.
  • Janeane Garofalo
  • Colonel Iké Dubaku
That's only four key character deaths per hour. I think Jack Bauer could justify this request.

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