Sunday, October 14, 2018

Rebranding for better or worse

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir recently decided to de-Mormon its name. Since being openly mocked on Broadway, the word "Mormon" seems to have become, according to some church leaders, a liability. Rebranding is the new black, apparently or, now that black itself has been rebranded, the new mauve. KFC famously removed the "fried" from its name. The Anaheim Angels tacked on "Los Angeles" to its brand, I guess to confuse any future cruise missiles.

Now the Mormon Tabernacle Choir will be called "Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square" (TCATS!)   The choir had been known colloquially as "Mo Tab," which is the best nickname for a choir ever, and is also coincidentally what my mom used to yell at the waitress in the '70's when her soft drink ran low. 

TCATS is just as good as Mo Tab, especially since I coined it. Please spread it around. 


Man in bar: "So what are you doing tonight?"

Other man: "Heading to the temple to hear the TCATS!"

Bartender: "I'm going to have to cut you off, sir."


Here are some other things I would like to re-brand:

Wells Fargo. I would like to call it Splork. Splork is the flopping sound your soul makes when you decide to withdraw your funds from an institution because of its massive ethical breaches but then are too lazy to. I picture a new logo with maybe a guy holding his hands out, palms up, and just sort of hunching his shoulders. 

Starbucks. I know what you are thinking. The last company on Earth to need rebranding is Starbucks, but that just means now is the perfect time. Nobody expects it. Imagine if they just, across the globe, suddenly called themselves Duncan. The Dunkin folks would crater. The coffee wars would be over. The new logo could be a guy who, like all Duncans, looks vaguely Canadian.

Coke. Since poké bowls are a hot culinary trend, I think Coke could attract a new demographic by rebranding itself Coké ("Co-kay.") Updating the signage and products would only require a small accent mark, which, for already-existing product, could be hand-inked by out of work Environmental Protection Agency staffers. 

Yahoo. When I was growing up, we said this word only when ecstatic. Checking email does not evoke the same joy, so right off the bat the name elicits falsely high expectations. I suggest re-branding Yahoo as "Yay." Yay, I have email, but also yay, ironically, like "Great, more political spam from my nutjob aunt." And at least we could get rid of that terrifying yahoo-yodeling. Yay!

Chipotlé. Most people mistakenly pronounce it "Chi-poltay" anyway. (I wonder if they are the same ones who can't say "nuclear.") No judgment, but why not just re-brand it Chipoltay! New slogan: "No matter how you pronounce it, it's delicious and pretty much Mexican food."

Mercedes. That is a lot of syllables. How about cutting it down to just the first one, "Me." That is, after all, the message. Who's got money to burn? Me! Who's unafraid to flaunt symbols of superiority? Me! Who could have fed an entire village in Africa for a year but instead went with the Iridium Silver model? Me! Who is starting to sound bitter that he can't afford one? (Me.)

A brand is powerful, and rebranding is sometimes iffy. I wish the TCATS the best, and I hope that their deMormonification brings them everything they desire. And if not, they can always resell their brand to a roller derby team. 


Sunday, October 7, 2018

Are you one of the good ones?

Part of being a good citizen is being active in the political life of your country. Take this short quiz to ascertain if you are one of the good ones. 

1. When you received that noisy, jarring text message last week entitled "Presidential Alert," your first thought was:
a) He just broke 80 on the course at Mar-a-Lago
b) Incoming!
c) Nice hack, Pelosi
d) My restraining order totally works

2. The Senate is:
a) a fine and dignified institution
b) the devil's jockstrap
c) sorely lacking a Starbucks
d) where the nuts come from

3. The three branches of government are:
a) hollow, decaying and corrupt
b) Manny, Moe and Jack
c) two too many for a country this fair-minded
c) executive, business and first class

4. Complete the sentence: "If I were a Senator..."
a) but, then again, no
b) I would work "cloture" in to all of my pick-up lines
c) I'd make sure kindergartens teach the five R's—readin', writin', 'rithmetic and rifle range
d) I would have "regular order" redefined to include anchovies and extra cheese

5. Genuine patriotism can be:
a) frustratingly widely interpreted in a free society
b) used for cover while reloading
c) conveniently found in the flag aisle
d) spotted sometimes, if you blink away the tears

6. All this drama over the Supreme Court nominee:
a) was manufactured by the left/right for political advantage in the midterms
b) seemed like a weird, all-male lost episode of "The Golden Girls"
c) was amazing for alcohol sales
d) guarantees years of sequels

7. The term "libtard" is:
a) straight-up funny and a clever dig
b) something I can't un-see from a friend's Facebook comment
c) without an equally dismissive term for conservatives, because "con-tard" just sounds like an appetizer, and "con-goloid" is politically incorrect
d) a tight-fitting dance garment which lacks a right side

8. Things are bound to get better politically, because we are:
a) at a tipping point
b). otherwise needing an "asteroid reset" impact right about now
c) finally turning off our TVs and reading again
d) Bwahahahahahahahaha

9. If I could amend the Constitution, I would add:
a) a provision saying every time a president tweets, he has to drink
b) Beyoncé on the $20
c) psychological testing for mayors and above
d) giant sums to find a cure for brain freeze

10. You know you are a true American if:
a) you have a flag not only on your house and your truck and your gun rack but on your dog's gun rack
b) they are calling you names
c) you can quote more than one line from "Caddyshack"
d) Norman Rockwell paintings bring a tear to your eye, as does the confounding proliferation of soccer

IF MOST OF YOUR ANSWERS WERE:
a) You are a true American
b) You bleed red, white and blue, but still mostly red
c) You think de Tocqueville was a luxury car from the '70's
d) You are thinking of running for something


Sunday, September 30, 2018

Where I come down on Kavanaugh / Ford

Hello readers!

This is the week I post my column exclusively to my Patreon patrons, who after the demise of my newspaper column have joined together to keep the funny flowing. Become a patron yourself for as little as $1 a month, so you don't miss out on this and other Wa adventures.

What you’re missing this week:

($1 level) Torn from the headlines—a riff on the Supreme Court nomination uproard - written as a horoscope!
($3 level) Access to a vintage column from 2012 about the horrors of visiting a toy store a week before Christmas
($10 level) Audio recordings of me performing all of this month's columns.

Thank you for your support!

George

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Corrections column

Periodically, I write a corrections column. The process of writing inevitably involves mistakes, and even though nobody notices, and these columns were not actually written, I feel it is my responsibility to pretend to clear the air. 

In my column about SPAM, I erroneously referred to it as "a good door stopper" when what I meant to say was "a darn good supper." I, for one, have had a can of it on my kitchen shelf for five years now, and I look forward to making a hearty meal with it when the opportunity arises. 

Writing about Washington, I did not mean to use the words "Donald Trump." My lawyer reminds me that I meant to write "Ronald Frump," who is absolutely a different guy, and a very old friend of the family, despite the money laundering. 

Regarding my column about global warming, I now admit it is not a funny subject, nor a good topic for a humor column. I regret the use of the word "laffs" when referring to what is happening to polar bear habitat. Suggesting that polar bears "could stand to lose a few pounds anyway" was, I now realize, not only fat-shaming, but, in the grand hierarchy of mammals, known as "punching down."

My column about movies which are so bad they are good mistakenly listed "Serpico" when I meant "Cinderfella." I always get the two confused, since they both feature a man dressing fantastically while challenging societal norms. 

In my column about fruit salad, I called coconut "an abomination." While technically true, I regret the use of such a charged word from the Bible. In hindsight, I probably should have simply called it "optional." 

Writing about meerkats, I referred to the way a group of them will stand bolt upright in a straight line "reminiscent of Nazi rallies." The comparison was unfortunate, and influenced by my ill-advised ingestion of NyQuil while also nursing a rum punch. 

When discussing which beer should rightly be named "the king of beers," I apologize if I offended anybody who resents the sexism implicit in "king." There could certainly be a "queen of beers" (St. Pauli Girl comes to mind), but I am not exactly sure how a vote would be undertaken, considering we are talking about a monarchy. 

If you notice any errors in future columns, please hesitate to contact me, as they will have been intentional. 


Sunday, September 16, 2018

An interview with explorer Ponce de Léon

I have with me today famed 16th Century explorer and conquistador Ponce de Léon. Ponce, I understand you are dead.

PDL: Technically, yes. But then, in some ways, a rock is alive. So it's semantics. Oh, by the way, it's Juan. Ponce de Léon is my last name. 

GW: Whoa. All these years I've thought Ponce was your first name.

PDL: What kind of parent would name their child "Ponce"? Imagine the bullying. 

GW: You're right. You might as well go to school with a plume in your helmet.

PDL: Well, I did do that, actually.

GW: 

PDL: Only once. Turns out we don't celebrate Halloween in Spain. I was misinformed. It was a painful lesson. 

GW: I'll bet. So...in school I was taught that you came to the Americas looking for a fountain of youth. Now historians say that was all a myth.

PDL: Understandable. It's true that I was losing my hair, and I had remarked to a friend that I wish there were such a fountain. But that's the extent of it, until I left on an expedition. Then my friend spread the fountain story. He was joking, but you know how things take on a life of their own.

GW: You did discover Florida.

PDL: "Discover" in quotes. I was the first European to find it, yes, but of course it was already busting with native residents whose ancestors had discovered it thousands of years earlier. But yeah, I am known in history as the Florida guy. 

GW: So you were never obsessed with finding a way to live forever?

PDL: I died a good 80 years before Shakespeare was in his prime. Yet here you are interviewing me. I'd say that is as close to living forever as anyone can possibly hope for. 

GW: Without the fountain aspect, you're just another dude with a boat.

PDL: True. I guess I should thank my friend for that. 

GW: Tough question. You enslaved a lot of people in your quest for gold, didn't you?

PDL: Enslaved is a strong word. I encouraged a lot of people to dig for gold, build houses and plant crops for no pay and to opt out of being killed. 

GW: What does God say about your behavior? You've met him, right?

PDL: Everybody wants to know about God. God is...he's not so much a guy as a warm, cinnamony cloud. He forgives me. He knows I was a product of my time. As penance, though, I have to clean out the rain gutters for a few millennia.

GW: Wait, there are rain gutters in Heaven?

PDL: No.

GW: Ah. 

PDL: In Purgatory. Again, it's a grey area. Purgatory is not what they say it is in books, it's more of a...like a really quiet, boring mansion. It has rain gutters. 

GW: So after a few millennia...

PDL: Then I get to move up, enjoy music again, see family.

GW: Where did all the gold end up?

PDL: The king commissioned some really nice bowls. Some chalices. I mean REALLY nice. You should go see them in Spain. 

GW: When you look back on it all, your 47 years above ground, what would you say was most important? What did you learn?

PDL: Well, don't attack the natives of Florida, for one thing. Boy, they are quick with some poison arrows! But as far as the big picture, get out. Explore. Learn. Fail big. Know that you're just one arrow in the Big Quiver.

GW: That's deep.

PDL: I've had time to ponder. You cannot imagine how many rain gutters this place has. 


Sunday, September 9, 2018

Random Thoughts Support Group

Group leader: The Random Thoughts Support Group will come to order. We have a new visitor today. Why don't you introduce yourself, George?

Me: Hi. My name is George and I have random thoughts. 

All in unison: Hi George!

Leader: Just remember, George, our motto is, there are no bad thoughts, only random ones. Why don't you start us off? What have you been thinking about?

Me: Well, you know how in prison they give you nicknames? Like a huge guy will be called "Tiny," or a guy who was a fisherman will be "Cap'n."

Leader: Yes.

Me: When I was younger I did some extra work in movies and TV shows. So I like to think, if I went to prison, they would call me "Hollywood."

Leader: That is not only possible, that's likely. Hope you never find out. Any other random thoughts?

Me: If Shakespeare were alive today and writing, the line would be “To cc or not to cc, that is the question.”

Leader: True!

Me: I thought of a sales slogans for flip flop shoes—“Like being barefoot, except noisier.”

Leader: Yes!

Me: I wonder if the Russian language has a translation for the phrase “your guyses," as in “Let’s go to your guyses' house.” Probably not. In which case, as code, it would be effective to say "Let's store those missiles at your guyses' armory." They'd never figure out where it is!

Leader: That is the definition of random, my friend.

All in unison: Random!

Me: I win so many arguments in my head after actual arguments end, I wish there were a job called Head Debater. 

Leader: Preach!

Me: What do atheists call the Adam's Apple?

Leader: Yeah. What DO they call it?

Me: Some things I have to deal with that my cave man forebears did not:

  • Temporary blindness as I place my reflective sun shade in my car's windshield
  • Bird droppings on my windshield RIGHT where I need to see out 
  • Lost Chapstick
  • Poor GPS apps

Leader: Cave men had it easy, am I right?

All in unison: Easy!

Me: Oh, can I do an anecdote? It's not a random thought, but this actually happened. Maybe you can help me figure out if this guy was putting me on.

Leader: It's irregular, but why not? This really happened?

Me: Yes. Well, I'm a librarian, see. So I’m on the Reference desk today, and a call is forwarded to me. Guy says, “Hi, I need help spelling a word...”

O.K. This happens now and then. People want to know how to spell “altruism” or “fortuitous” or the like, and they call the library. 

“All right, what’s the word?” I say.

“Orgasm,” he says.

And I make the choice, in the nanosecond I have to make it, that I’m NOT going to go for funny, which is so tempting, I’m going to go professional. 

So I put him on hold and get the dictionary. Now, all the girlfriends I’ve ever had, or I think at least half of them, will tell you I don’t need the dictionary for this word. But a librarian, even a smart librarian who can spell, is not allowed to just spell. You have to provide an official source. It’s a librarian ethics thing.

I come back on the phone. “O.K., this is from the American Heritage Dictionary: O-R-G-“

“O-R-G...” he repeats.

“A-S-M,” I say.

“A-S-M?” he asks. 

“Yes,” I say.

“Thank you,” he says, and hangs up, right before I think to say “Good luck!"

Leader: He was putting you on. 

All in unison: Good luck!

Me: This was great. Are these meetings every week?

Leader: No, actually, the Random Thoughts Support Group kinda just meets whenever.