Tag Archives: media

This blog is a Consumers Digest super-duper best buy gold star platinum winner

After much scientific inquiry, I have come to the conclusion that there are three things in life that are incontrovertibly fake:

1. The moon landing

2. The female orgasm

3. Consumers Digest

You may have already shared my conclusion on the first two, but the third is slightly more obscure. Here, let’s let Howie Long and his cop hair fill you in on what Consumers Digest is:

Like many who end up buying a Chevy Malibu, you may be confused. Specifically, you may have confused Consumer Reports with the Consumers Digest mentioned in the commercial. The former is a well-regarded, non-profit consumer advocacy publication. The latter is… well, jeez, just what is Consumers Digest?

According to their Web site, Consumers Digest is this:

For 47 years, people have trusted Consumers Digest magazine to identify outstanding values in a complex and often confusing marketplace. Consumers Digest is working to extend that promise to the Internet.

So it’s a print magazine? Well, no. According to Wikipedia, the “communications” firm behind Consumers Digest stopped publishing a print magazine in 2001. So now I guess it’s a Web site?

Well, not exactly:

If you are interested in receiving information on how you can subscribe to our Web site, please write to: Postmaster, Consumers Digest Communications, 520 Lake Cook Road, Suite 500, Deerfield, IL 60015 or send an e-mail to: postmaster@consumersdigest.com

Now, some people might think it’s ridiculous to have to send an email to an anonymous address via a Web site in order to receive information on how to subscribe to that Web site. I, on the other hand, think it’s… well you’re right that’s fucked up.

Anyway, there is a button on their Web site that takes you to the official list of Consumers Digest automotive “Best Buys.” I’m no forensic Webologist, but it appears this Web page was built by Mrs. Simonson’s 4th grade class at Mount Sorrow Elementary using the Newberry Prize-winning “My Very First HTML PAGE!!” as a step-by-step guide. Included among the 2010 best buys are the Malibu as well as six other Chevy models, plus assorted models from other car manufacturers. Nowhere are there listed any criteria upon which they arrived at their conclusions.

However, some of the models have links you can click to read the Consumers Digest expert “review” of the model, which includes sentences like this:

If you’re a fan of the TV show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” you know the shocked responses that appear on the homeowners’ face when Ty Pennington and his crew “move that bus” and reveal a newly refurbished home.

I give that sentence a Pax Arcana Golden Viking Dildo Award for Awkward Phraseology and Dumbness.

In conclusion, WTF Chevy? Really?

Consumers Digest [Home… page?]

***Update: I have just sent the following note to the email address supplied by Consumers Digest in order to receive information on subscribing to the Web site. I will let you know how that goes.


My name is Pax Arcana, and I am interested in receiving information on how to subscribe to the Consumers Digest Web site. Please send the aforementioned information along presently.

Also, it occurs to me that there may be a better way to provide potential subscribers with this information. For example, you could post this information upon light towers in every major city. It would have to be laminated, of course, to protect it from the elements. As an alternative, I suppose you could simply post your subscription information on your Web site — but really who has time for all that?

I look forward to your reply. With as much sincerity as I can muster, I am humbly yours,

Pax Arcana


Filed under media

I am officially starting to enjoy this


Pax Arcana

My soft spot for the newspaper industry is well-known, as is my despair for the wont of real ideas for saving the most important news-gathering apparatus in existence today. (Less well-known is that my pheromones attract badgers. It’s a sexy but painful curse.)

The latest idea comes from James Rainey of the LA Times. Rainey is a smart guy with a dumb idea — newspapers should host more food festivals and shit like that to raise money. Because the business world is just like high school, and there’s no way they’ll shut down the drama club if we have, like, the best bake sale ever.

Then there’s Mediaite, a new Web site that ranks media personalities on a completely contrived power scale. It’s like fantasy football for the criminally douchey. Or as Will Leitch puts it:

The site is called Mediaite, and according to publisher Dan Abrams’ mission statement, it hopes to become “the must-read for anyone interested in media, the business of it and the personalities behind it.” At this point, it is perfectly acceptable for the rest of you to throw a shoe at your computer.

But still, it’s not the Raineys or Abrams of the world who are to blame for the mess in which the industry finds itself. That honor falls to the poop gobbling fucks who run the media companies — the idiot upperclass twits who fling millions in bonuses at executives who ran their papers into the ground and insist that the only way to save newspapers is to force the public to pay for an inferior product.

Let’s see if you can guess how these sacks full of farts and dead mice are spending their week in the face of the most dire crisis in the industry’s history. If you guessed that they’re recruiting innovators from Silicon Valley to build the news delivery platform of the future, then you’ve got egg all over your face, egg face.

While reporters at the New York Times are being told to save money by not texting or calling 411 on their company cell phones, the luminaries of the media universe took the private jets to Sun Valley for a week of hob-knobbing with other knobs. You are not invited, egg face:

For one week a year, the affluent resort town in central Idaho is transformed by Allen & Co, a boutique investment bank, into a playground of billionaires. They stroll along manicured pathways in its tranquil grounds and meditate by the duck ponds over the future of the media business and perhaps the next transformative merger.

Hopefully one of the ducks from the duck pond can point out the irony to these assholes of flying to Sun Valley for a weeklong golf and hooker escapade with their Princeton classmates while demanding massive layoffs and labor concessions at their various media properties.

Duck: Hi Mr. Media Honcho! You look depressed.

Media Honcho: I am. My companies are falling flat on their faces. If this continues, I might have to sell my private island! What will the boys at the club think?!

Duck: Maybe you shouldn’t have borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars to build new printing presses when the future of journalism is clearly online.

Media Honcho: Who let this duck talk to me like this? You there! Yes, you! The Mexican-looking fellow. Shoot this duck.

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This is why everyone hates PR people

Pax Arcana

As someone who practices something eerily similar to the dark arts of journalism for a living, I get all sorts of press releases in my email inbox every day.

Most of them have nothing to do with my “beat,” which is so narrowly defined and esoteric as to be completely meaningless to 99% of humans on earth, but that’s OK. I take the press release misfires with a zen-like countenance and move along with my day. It’s better to smile and delete than to rail against the know-nothing PR douchebags who fire off whatever snake oil pitch they just concocted to everyone they can find at every publication on earth.

See how good I am at it?

Anyway, I recently got a press release that is simply too awesome NOT to share with my Pax Arcana readership. Bear in mind that at a certain point in this chain of events, the below release was sent to a publication that caters solely to IT managers at big companies:

Hi [Pax],

I hope all is well!

We all know Jennifer Love Hewitt got her fare share of flack back in 2007 for the images of her bathing suit body that circulated amongst the media. But, what we didn’t know is how she turned her body back around to the days of Can’t Hardly Wait, and Scream! JLW was recently spotted in Dr. Siegal’s COOKIE DIET Beverly Hills Store location picking up her monthly supply of cookies.

Just by eating six cookies a day plus a sensible dinner, the diet that has helped over 500,000 people lose weight effectively, and has clearly helped Jennifer shed her unwanted lumps! Please let me know if you’d like more information on the diet trend that has entered the lives of your favorite celebs and everyday people. I can also arrange an interview with Dr. Siegal himself as well as giveaways for your readers.

Thanks, and I looking forward to hearing from you soon!


I emailed Danielle to ask how Dr. Siegal’s COOKIE DIET could help, say, a multibillion enterprise streamline its back-end supply chain business processes, but so far have not heard back. I’ll keep you posted if I hear anything.

In the meantime, here is a picture of Jennifer Love Hewitt’s awesome COOKIE DIET ass:


How’s that for PR?

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How to save the news

Pax Arcana

I have no idea how to save newspapers, except to suggest that the writers and reporting go back to writing and reporting rather than foisting their stillborn business models on the public.

That said, I think this video says a lot about how to save TV news. Sing it loud, my auto-tuned brothers and sisters:

Added: The second, even-better installment (hat tip Father Scott)

Via Boing Boing


Filed under Uncategorized

Newspapers will take us down with the ship

Pax Arcana

newspaperWhen I was in training to become a foot soldier in the army of the newspaper media — at the East Coast Academy of God-Hating Elitism and French Cheeses — I was given fair warning that most Americans, in fact, despise the media and everybody associated with it.

“You may find it difficult to fathom,” one professor told me, “but there are many Americans who see the news media as a coterie of self-serving whiners who proffer pretend populism in exchange for cushy hours and high pay.”

The truth, dear Pax reader, is far different. Newspapers are the only thing standing betwixt the common man and a tidal wave of searing hot fascism and smelly, smelly corruption.

And now that the laziest elements of our society have decided that simply flipping on a computer and “surfing” the “Internet” are easier than wandering down the driveway through 8 inches of snow, retrieving the increasingly thin local daily, spreading the broadsheet out over the entire expanse of the dining room table, and flipping inky thumbs through page after page of coupon inserts and horoscopes, the newspaper industry is suffering major organ failure.

AND NO ONE SEEMS TO CARE!!!!!!!!!!!11!!

My colleague Tim McGuire of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University sees it the same way:

The progression of bad newspaper news is not surprising, but the lack of concern is mystifying and frightening. Hirschhorn wrote this: The collapse of daily print journalism will mean many things…….  And it will seriously damage the press’s ability to serve as a bulwark of democracy.” Ya think? Hirschhorn tossed off in one dismissive sentence one of the most crucial potential developments for journalism and democracy since the First Amendment. I think brass bands are required to force a focus on the democratic implications of what’s happening.

Despite the general lack of debate and concern about the subject, I was taken by the insight of a blogger for Science News who made this observation: “What we have to keep in mind is that true journalism is the closest thing most adults have to formal continuing education. Each newsroom that goes dark, then, amounts to another school closing.”

An excellent point. A school is a school even when no one attends.


That’s why McGuire is going to catch the wave of this newfangled “technology” business and finally clue the youngsters in that the next generation of media will be different from the past:

I am going to spend a lot less time in this year’s classes this year discussing the demise of mainstream media and try to focus more on what’s going to replace the floundering corporate media model to which we’ve all become accustomed.

I applaud McGuire for his forward thinking on this issue. The Internet has only been a major media source for 14 or 15 years, but I think it might be time for the leadership of our print media outlets to come together and really think about what it could mean to an industry that had grown accustomed to researching topics, writing stories about them, printing those stories on big bundles of paper, shoveling pallets full of those bundles onto trucks, and carting them to your house.

How will an industry built on such a model adapt to cheaper ways of doing the exact same thing?

Good question:

The “market” will supply some of those answers.  As mainstream media outlets struggle and flop around like beached whales I am convinced creative entrepreneurs are going to find new openings in the competitive landscape.  For example if the Detroit papers leave a hole in the front part of the week, I will be shocked if somebody doesn’t start a weekly web/print publication to cover sports in that market. (Insert your own damn Lions joke!) With big players scrambling out of the picture, the landscape will change and so will business models.

Some of these new efforts are going to be the product of out-of-work journalists desperately searching for a place to land quality journalism. That can be good, because quality will win out in the marketplace and high-quality stuff may find a means of support.  Other new business efforts are going to respond to holes in the marketplace created by mainstream media cutbacks. Those efforts stand to be well-rewarded.

I agree. There is nothing that out-of-work journalists want more than to bring their skills to bear in a new media landscape, where quality wins out and the survival of the Democracy is ensured.

Well, that and cushy hours and high pay.

The newspaper demise is accelerating; the market must respond [ASU]

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Pax Arcana

The conspiracy to assassinate Plaxico Burress’s thigh is beginning to unravel. Even though most of the media has already convicted Burress of plugging his own damn self (in what some are derisively calling a “Plaxident“), the New York Post finally got around to doing some investigating.

What they find is so shocking and profound that it will blow your mind and completely reorient your sense of right and wrong and left and right.

While the “official” police report and several eyewitness accounts say Plaxico shot himself while fumbling around in his waistband at a nightclub, Plaxico apparently checked himself into a New York hospital under the name “Harris Smith” and told doctors he’d been shot at an Applebee’s.

This raises two serious questions:

1. Who was Burress so frightened of that he tried to hide his real identity from hospital workers? Could one of the doctors be involved? Do the pocket gnomes have cousins who inhabit those backless gowns they give out at hospitals?

2. WHAT IS APPLEBEE’S HIDING? Deciding to do a little investigative journalism myself, I went to the Applebee’s Web site to see what they have to say for themselves. You would think that being implicated as the global center of wide receiver-based gunshot violence would prompt a statement from them, but the most recent news release on its site is just a milquetoast announcement of the new “2 for $20” deal at the chain — in which you and your date can both suffer explosive diahhrea for less than the cost of a movie.

Not since the Olive Garden hid its deliciousness from the residents of Sioux Falls has a major casual dining chain perpetrated such an insidious fraud on the American public.



Filed under sports

Kevin O’Connell probably gets tons of women

Pax Arcana

This Boston Globe apology is exactly the kind of thing the sports blog world thrives on. It’s got mystery, intrigue, and a hilarious pay-off culminating in a fantastic dick joke starring Patriots back-up quarterback Kevin O’Connell.

Here’s the story:

On Sunday, the Globe published a photo of O’Connell taken during a practice session. The Globe’s editorial staff apparently didn’t notice that the writing on O’Connell’s wrist band is hardly the stuff the paper’s octogenarian readership is prepared to tolerate. So they issued an apology, which read as follows:

Editor’s note: A photo on Page C6 in Sunday’s Sports section showed Patriots rookie quarterback Kevin O’Connell wearing a wristband with inappropriate language written on it. The photo did not meet the Globe’s journalistic standards and should not have been published.

Deadspin got ahold of the photo in question, which is reproduced below:

If you can’t read it, the wristband says “MY DICK IS TINY TOO!”

I’m assuming this was some kind of prank on the rookie quarterback, and not the most collosal overshare since Jimmy Carter talked to Playboy in 1976.

But if this article in the Times (UK) is correct, Kevin O’Connell may just be the most desirable male in entire universe. The article itself is a reflection on a Jezebel post (and long, long comment stream) in which women recount the worst things men can say to them. The difficulty of being a man in search of some boom-boom time, according to the Times, is that you must be at the same time successful and self-deprecating:

The key to success, for men, is a certain type of wit: self-deprecation. Gil Greengross, the anthropologist behind the research, was quoted in The Observer, explaining: “The frequent use of self-deprecating humour in sexual context – with potential mates, established mates or sexual rivals – was astonishing … people who used this humour were considered to be more desirable as mates.”

So far, so encouraging, you might think. There’s hope for us all. But Greengross ruined it all by adding the following caveat: “If you are a low-status individual, using self-deprecating humour can be disastrous to you. Think about the secondary school child whom nobody liked, who makes fun of his shortcomings in sports. His peers mocked him and he was considered more pathetic than he was previously.”

In other words, to impress, men need to be hugely successful, but pretend that they are not.

In this way, Kevin O’Connell — highly-touted NFL quarterback with self-deprecating jokes affixed to his uniform — may just be the most desirable male in New England since that last guy… you know that guy with the goats and the naked girlfriend and all the rings… you know, that guy.

The Bigger The Hands, The Larger The … Wristband [Deadspin]
For the record [Boston Globe]
Women have so many don’ts. What’s a guy to do? [Times UK]

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Wayne Brady was worried

Pax Arcana

Apropos of absolutely nothing, King Magazine went and rounded up a bunch of Chappelle’s Show regulars to compile what it calls “the definitive oral history” of the much-missed series.

While I dispute that three short pages of Web copy can really be called a definitive oral history of anything, there is some pretty good stuff in there.

We miss you dearly, President Black Bush

For some of the regulars, like writer/actor Bill Burr, the explosion of popularity the show enjoyed was downright stupefying:

I was doing stand-up at this festival in Tennessee called Bonnaroo—a bunch of white hippie bands, alternative shit. I was backstage waiting for this band to come out, and all of a sudden the lights went out. Five thousand people waiting in the dark, and then you just hear some kid in the back go, ‘Whaaaat?’ Then somebody else yells, “Okaaaay! Yeeaaah!” It sent a chill up my spine.

This may partly explain why Chappelle famously flaked out and fled to Africa for some sort of black comedian NOLS trip.

Also, there’s a funny sequence in there about the Wayne Brady sketch — which remains my all-time favorite. Brady had seen comedian Paul Mooney make fun of him in a prior episode and had complained in person to some of Chappelle’s friends. Chappelle called Brady the next day and eventually they arranged the cameo.

What’s funny, in hindsight, is that the most famous line of the sketch, “Is Wayne Brady gonna have to choke a bitch?” was not originally in the script. Here’s Brady’s curious take on how things got changed:

I curse. I’m not squeaky clean. [But] I didn’t like the term, “Slap a ho.” I’ve got a daughter; there’s something about [that] that’s too real. So we came up with the whole line “Is Wayne Brady gonna have to choke a bitch?”

So to avoid getting “too real,” Wayne Brady changed “slap a ho” to “choke a bitch.” I think that makes perfect sense, and confirms my belief that Wayne Brady is a comic savant.

The Rise and Fall of Chappelle’s Show [King]

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Sean Casey knows his neck injuries (and Papi knows his movies)

Pax Arcana

Over at his new video blog on WEEI.com, Red Sox back-up first baseman Sean Casey holds forth on everything from haircuts to his induction into the Irish Hall of Fame at a bar in New York.

In his latest installation, the mayor laments being relegated to the disabled list with a neck ouchy and ponders some other famous sports-related neck injuries:

Of course he left out the greatest neck injury in the history of sports — when Patriots CB Maurice Hurst was sidelined with a bulging dick in his neck (scroll to :35), but it’s not a bad job off the top of his head:

Interesting side note — Sean Casey’s mom once indirectly hooked me up with tickets to a 1999 Reds-Rockies game when I was living in Colorado. A friend of mine had gone to Richmond with Casey and, spotting the Reds game on the Rockies’ schedule, just called his mom and asked if there was any way we could see Sean while he was in town. A few days later, Mrs. Casey called my friend Jim back and said there would be 12 tickets waiting for us at the stadium, and that Sean wanted to hang out after the game.

We showed up. Casey didn’t. He went on the DL before the road trip.


Beacuse it was posted just after I originally linked last night, here’s Casey and Papi discussing the big guy’s top five movies of all time:

City Hall [WEEI.com]

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The First Amendment was outdated, anyway

Pax Arcana

First it was the mayor of Boston restricting freedom of speech at the site of its own birth. Now two more Boston-based assaults against the First Amendment have us wondering if we’ve been looking at the wrong Constitution this whole time.

First, a food blogger from California was threatened by the PR firm of Brookline-based Cook’s Country magazine, sister publication of the venerable Cook’s Illustrated and cousin of public television staple America’s Test Kitchen. Her crime? Publishing a modified version of a potato salad recipe from Cook’s Country.

The key word, of course, is modified:

Though not well versed in the specifics of the law, I always thought this was an acceptable practice, regardless of where you found the individual recipe. So imagine my surprise when I received this email from their publicity company, Deborah Broide Publicity, the following morning.

Deborah: Hi. Please remove the recipe from Cook’s Country. Permission was not giving to use this recipe (as I’m the one who gives permission). In the future, if you’d like to use a recipe simply email me first. Also, we do not allow our recipes to be modified (in print). Many thanks!

That last line is awesome. “We do not allow our recipes to be modified (in print).”

The assumption is that those who would modify their recipes for publication are merely piggy-backing on the hard work of the Cook’s Country editors, who apparently invented fucking potato salad. Every recipe in the history of mankind, including every single one in every single issue of Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country, has been modified from a prior recipe. The U.S. Copyright Office even says lists of ingredients in themselves cannot be copyrighted, and that instructions for compiling those ingredients must contain “substantial literary expression in the form of an explanation or directions” in order to be protected by law.

Meanwhile, a federal judge this weekend wiped his ass with the Bill of Rights and issued a prior restraint order against a trio of dorks from MIT who were scheduled to appear at a hacker conference this week and describe how one could — theoretically, of course — hack a Charlie Card to get free rides on the T.

Obviously not every form of speech is protected in the U.S. For instance, you’re not allowed to incite people to violence. Or to shout fire in a crowded theater. Or to threaten the life of the president.

You are, however, allowed to describe how one could go about breaking into a safe, or a house, or any other kind of security system. The judge in the case, Douglas Woodlock, apparently bought the MBTA’s flimsy argument that telling people how to hack something is the same as actually hacking it:

Opsahl said the judge, in making his decision, misinterpreted a part of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act that refers to computer intruders or hackers. Such a person is described in part in the statute as someone who “knowingly causes the transmission of a program, information, code, or command to a computer or computer system.”

Opsahl says the judge, during the hearing, likened the students’ conference presentation to transmitting code to a computer.

“The statute on its face appears to be discussing sending code or similar types of information to a computer,” Opsahl said. “It does not appear to contemplate somebody who is giving a talk to humans. Nevertheless, the court . . . believed that the act of giving a presentation to a group of humans was covered by the computer fraud, computer intrusion statute. We believe this is wrong.”

When I started this blog post, I agreed with this Opsahl guy. But now that I’ve had a chance to think about it, I find myself siding with the judge. What kind of nation would we be if we allowed our citizens to disseminate all manner of information in the public realm? The only way to ensure permanent happiness, comrade, is through a permanent revolution that purges the minds of the proletariat of all maliciousness against the state. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an appointment to be fitted for my brown shirt.

One Hot Potato Salad [Grinder]
Court blocks MIT students from showing subway hack [Globe]

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