Welcome to the somewhat unbalanced mind of Orbson Rice.

Friday, September 30, 2011


I click, I wait, I wait some more, I grab a sandwich, I wait, I watch Sportcenter, hey my webpage has finally loaded. Welcome to my grandmother's computer. Needless to say, I did not have the requisite eighteen months to compose new and exciting entries for you. I am very much looking forward to Tuesday when I can cram myself into the smallest airline seat Delta can find and immerse myself in the intoxicating aroma of eight gallons of perfume from the woman sitting next to me. Soon I will be home. In the meantime, I am writing from my hometown, the not to great state of Michigan.

Michigan is like that beautiful cheerleader from high school. She was once the "pink of perfection" but has since become the chain-smoking mother of eight who thinks dining at Denny's is the fancy night out. Unfortunately, a lot of my family and friends still live there, hence my yearly trip into the pothole infested Mecca. Still, there are a few good things about my home state. Who knows how long they will last, but for now I am grateful for the Lions, Tigers, Redwings and the Detroit Institute of the Arts. I actually visited the D.I.A. yesterday and was pleasantly surprised just how good of a museum is was. Driving up to it I thought I was in a post-apocalyptic movie made up of abandoned buildings, homeless people and very bad drivers. However, upon entering the D.I.A. I entered into a much more decadent world. The two settings were indicative of a Republican rule. Massive poverty for almost everyone and tiny little packets of ridiculously wealthy. Of course, I do not suggest that Republicans would ever care about art.

As I approach my final days in the Polluted Lakes State, one of my primary political arguments has been reinforced. Whenever an area depends completely on one company or industry in order to thrive, invariably that area is going to go to shit. Michigan has always been the automotive state, but guess what, there is no Big Three anymore. I guess all of those tax breaks and loopholes didn't help. Not to worry though, Michigan's Governor has a great new plan to revitalize struggling cities- he is privatizing local governments. A local ad sums up the plan quite nicely:

"Do you hate having to vote for your elected officials? Does it take time from some of your favorite TV shows? Well, we have good news for you! You can stay on the couch and click away as the Lockwood Energy and Efficiency Coalition of Howell or LEECH takes over the day to day operations of running your city. Our forefathers thought you should be able to vote but more importantly they wanted you to pursue happiness. How can you do that when you have to research candidates, policies and monitor political activities? Forget that nonsense. Now it's time to sit back, relax and let LEECH take this burden off of your shoulders. And don't worry, we're a corporation so you know we always have your best interests in mind."

Orbsonland Ride of the Day: Disney sticks you in a bucket and swirls you around a room full of animatronic evil children in "It's A Small World". Now it's my turn. This 12 minute ride is called "Lysten"(the 'y' makes it cool) and it will take you along in a much more comfortable bucket as it demonstrates the history of music from Gregorian Chant to Tao Cruz. This is not just any ride though, the music is pumped in at concert level with HD surround sound and an interactive HD light and laser display. While enjoying the tunes you will also be able to control a laser pistol used to shoot images of Brittany Spears as she pops us throughout the journey. You'll earn points for successful hits and the winner will receive a commemorative "Baby One More Time" musical pin.

Orbson's Quick Note: I hit a thousand visits to this site! Thanks for sticking with it. I promise I will never leave the computer with Mrs. Orbson again!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Orbsonland Theme Park

...even now when I see a giant mouse walking towards me, my first instinct is too huddle in a corner shaking and crying. Yes Orbsonites, yours truly has survived his venture into that "magical" wonderland called Disney World: Four parks, six days, 300-degree heat, 12-hour days and frightening parents who wield baby strollers like weapons. Looking back, I cannot say that I am unchanged. I have peered into the abyss and the abyss peered back at me with large cartoon eyes all the time whispering "It's a small world after all...." One of the benefits of my incarceration, oops, I mean vacation, is that I was able to think about the theme park I would create were I able to pull wads of money out of my rump. I don't want to give away too much just yet, but rest assured you will soon be reading about the greatest theme park the world has never known: Orbsonland, the first Adult Theme Park!

I know, I know, you can't wait to hear what kind of theme park could possibly come out of the mind that brought you Punch A Smoker Day and the greatest religion ever, Orbsonism. Okay, you win, I will give you a brief glimpse into Orbsonland. Picture the craziest roller coaster ever (I'm talking 1/2 mile drops, loops, whipped cream, etc.), combined with music by Green Day, jello shooters and porn star Katie Morgan. Yeah, and that's just one ride. My Orbson theme park will include attractions in sports, theater, art, literature and movies. This will be a destination that will make Las Vegas look like a place retirees go to spend their social security checks. This is a place that doesn't close, it never sleeps and when you finally have to go back to your boring lives, your souvenir pin will actually slap you on the face whenever you need to get you Orbson on.

So, keep an eye out Orbsonites. I may still be travelling, but nothing can stop this brain from racing right off the edge of sanity.

Orbson Oracle Update: We're approaching 1,000 page views views which is pretty good considering I am on hiatus. I have also been contacted by other publications who are interested in publishing some of my entries. Things are starting to hit cruise control!

Streaming Down the Toilet: Now Netflix is morphing into two entities- Netflix and Qwikster. One service will only be streaming content while the other will do what? Offer chocolate milk by mail? Come on Reed, you could do better than Qwikster. How about "Touch My Disk" or "We're Screwedster".

Orbson Roars: The Detroit Lions are now 2-0 after beating the Kansas City Chiefs 48-3. I know this is probably one of the signs of the Apocalypse but I can't help getting excited. Usually by this point in the season, I'm already thinking about next year's draft.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Poe Et Ree

Being obsessed with all things literary it only make sense that I would dabble in poetry. Of course as my disciples now realize, I tend to be a little wordy. Limiting myself to just a few words has never worked that well for me. However, it is very late, I am very tired and am feeling the need in my sleepless haze to share some very brief excerpts from my poor attempts at the art form. Plus, I am having Blog withdrawal. So, suffer along with me:

Prisms and Prisons

Inhibiting glass,
Thick yet thin,
Surrounds in its suffocating embrace
Dare not to touch as it
Strengthens with each still second.
To push upon could break
With raining shards
And crimson raindrops. Remaining
Forever disfigured in a soul of ice
Remembering future’s distant past
And then to restlessness once more
Knowing of the morrows cry
Of dreams not tried.


Obsessed with the world of the night
Where I find more truth than the blinding rays of the sun.
I feel closer to the night.
To darkness.
To beautiful chaos.

Orbson Suggests: If you ever get the chance, check out Def Poetry Jam. Probably easiest to find it on You Tube (also owned by Google by the way). Awesome stuff!

Notes from Disney: After about 10 hours in the heat, the Disney characters start looking a lot more ominous. Yeah, sure Goofy, I'll take a picture with you, just keep your hands where I can see them.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Very Brief Disney Diatribe

Well Orbsonites, it's 1:00AM in Orlando, Florida and I am thoroughly exhausted from a long day at Hollywood Studios. What is Hollywood Studios you ask? Well it used to be MGM Studios before MGM went under, Basically, Hollywood Studios is the fourth theme park at Disney World. When I say fourth, I really mean fourth. This place was like that cousin you invite to family functions, the whole time praying he doesn't show up. There were one or two highlights. The Extreme Stunt Show and Fantasmic (yes they really named it that)were both really fun, but the rest of the park made me wonder if the Disney family also has a weird cousin. One day the rest of their family was probably like "Here, take this park, it's all yours. Have fun." Needless to say, Universal Studios is infinitely better. Of course, Universal doesn't have the scantily clad Ariel singing and flopping around wearing nothing but a coconut bra. That was one show that was definitely worthy of a very special Orbson Rice "standing ovation."

I'll try to right more as the week progresses since I know how important my words are to each of you. Stay strong, fight the Stupid and I'll be back full time before you know it.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Orbson's Next Adventure

The Orbson Oracle will be taking a short hiatus as Orbson heads off on yet another adventure. Don’t worry, as I am spreading the word of Orbson to others, I’ll still be posting blog entries. I may just limit them to two or three per week for the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, don’t forget to keep an eye on my Twitter (ooh that sounds dirty) where I will certainly be more active than usual. In the meantime, here are a few morsels to tide you over until next time:

Obama’s Speech: Great speech Mr. President! You listened to my advice and put every single one of my ideas in your Jobs Program. It would have been nice if you’d acknowledged where you got your ideas, but hey, at least you were listening. Now stick to your principles and don’t give in to the simple-minded Congressional conservatives.

Ben and Jerry’s new flavor is “Schweddy Balls” Ice Cream: No I did not make this up. I have no idea what kind of flavor profile this will have and frankly I don’t want to know.

Google bought Zagat and are in the bidding for Hulu: Seriously Google, are you trying to buy everything? Why don’t you buy T Mobile and actually making it a good cell phone service? How about buying an airline and making decent, comfortable airplanes? Hey, purchase Hooters, combine it with the airline and make the best flying experience ever!

Yo Asshole Said What? Rick Perry was asked whether he ever had concerns that someone was put to death that was later proven innocent. His answer “No, sir. I’ve never struggled with that all.” Not surprising that someone who does not believe in science would look at DNA evidence as another liberal myth. Still Mr. Perry, doesn’t your Bible say something like “Thou Shall Not Kill”?

Dear Republicans,

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Orbson Matriculating with Himself

September is college essay time. I just finished helping my little Orbson bro finalize his college essay and we started discussing how Orbson Rice might write one for himself. So I thought, let’s find out:

Topic: What would you bring to the University of Sarcastic Salutations?

I am Orbson Rice. I could bore you with my nearly perfect 1.7 grade point average or impress you with the many dollars I have donated in order to help young women pay for college. However, neither of those accomplishments will truly help me succeed at your school. Instead, I wish to regale you with my genius in the art of business management. At the age of 11-years-old, as other children were wasting their youth on frivolous activities, I set up a city-wide chain of lemonade stands. I named them, “Orbson Rice’s Awesome Lemonade”.

My plan was simple. I convinced twelve nine-year-olds to buy a franchise permit for $5 each. I then gave them a one page instruction manual on how to set up a table, make lemonade and sell to people as they walked by. Each cup was sold for $1 and I promised that they would be able to keep a full 10% of any profits. Of course, they had to purchase their ingredients from me, which had a small markup for my efforts. Now I didn’t pick twelve random children. I held auditions to find the cutest kids to peddle the drinks. People won’t say no to a cute kid who says “Please sir, my family is starving and this is the only way I can help.” Auditions are exhausting work so I felt perfectly entitled to the nominal $5 per kid audition fee.

Before long, I had a dozen lemonade stands set up through the city and the money was pouring in. I even assisted many of the children who could not do the math to calculate their 10%. Of course, I needed to charge an accounting fee, but that is only reasonable. One day, I was berating a young employee who I caught slacking on the job when a potential customer walked by muttering something about needing something stronger to drink. The light bulb went off and I went to work. Luckily, most parents don’t lock the liquor cabinet so it was easy to begin spiking the lemonade. I now had a new $5 product that I called “Orbson Rice's Great & Yummy”. In only one summer, I was able to pull in over $12,000 from my lemonade stands.

So what would I bring to the University of Sarcastic Salutations? Well, since the age of eleven, I have come a long way in the business world. The college environment has a plethora of unmet needs and Orbson Rice is the student to meet them. My self-taught knowledge in botany, chemistry and sports statistics should be particularly useful in my planned business ventures. If this essay isn’t enough to convince you, then I should probably confess something. I know who is on the Admissions Committee and was really surprised by some of the dirt I was able to dig up on you guys. A couple of you are really into some weird stuff. Well regardless, that information will probably never hit the public so you really shouldn’t worry too much.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Manufacturing Homeless

Yesterday, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed a 4-year lifetime limit on cash welfare benefits for Michigan residents. According to Michigan’s Department of Human Services, on October 1 over 29,000 children will be affected by the new regulation. On a side note, Michigan’s unemployment currently stands at 10.9% which is the third worse in the nation. Of course this number does not take into account people who have exhausted unemployment benefits or those who are underemployed. Trust me when I say, the situation in Michigan is much worse.

I am not going to talk about the stereotypes that conservatives give to people on welfare. I would rather discuss solutions. There is no easy solution to the welfare issue. What I will say is that simply throwing money at a problem rarely makes it go away. There are two ways to make certain that the cost of welfare is as low as possible. First, there needs to be jobs to apply for. You don’t cut off the oxygen until a person can breathe by themselves. Secondly, you need to train people to do the jobs. Not just random training, but specific useful training in areas of need. Until these two standards are met, Governor Snyder has no business limiting lifetime limits on welfare benefits.

I have written countless times to members of Congress about potential job creating ideas. Unfortunately, conservatives believe that the federal and state governments should not be spending money to stimulate the economy. Instead, they just keep providing tax breaks to businesses that simply hoard their profits. If you want more jobs let’s start with the following: Create mass transit systems in every city (linked to suburbs) with a population over 500,000 people. Create high speed trains to allow people to affordably travel between major cities. Expand the Department of Education in order to repair schools, hire a lot more teachers (to reduce class size), pay teachers more money and provide an equal and high level of education to every child in this country.

As for the concerns about those who actually are on a “free ride”, there is a simple answer. Require a certain amount of volunteer hours in order to get aid. The volunteers could beautify neighborhoods, assist local homeless shelters or help out in schools. In addition to the benefits reaped by the community, the welfare recipient will feel good about their contributions and may even make new connections that could lead to permanent work.

Yes, I do believe that welfare recipients should be monitored to ensure that they are not taking advantage of the system. You might even be surprised to hear that I don’t mind mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients. However, let’s stop focusing on the victims as the problem and let’s start trying to fix the real issues facing this country. I would like to end this entry with a final thought. A large amount of the items we purchase were made in China (hell, I just found out that the mushrooms I buy were made in China). Isn’t it time to discuss the problem that companies in the U.S. simply cannot compete with the prices offered by companies who manufacture products overseas. Shouldn’t we be looking to level the playing field?

Orbson Going Postal: The U.S. Postal Service is about to go bankrupt. Still delivering 6 days a week? Yeah, really smart people we have in government.

Orbson’s Not Tripping: Scientists say that dolphin’s “talk like humans”. Thank Orbson! I was beginning to think someone had dropped some Ecstasy in my Absinthe during my last visit to Seaworld. Now I know the dolphins really were talking to me!

Orbson at the Oscar’s: Eddie Murphy is hosting the next Academy Awards. I was really hoping for Neil Patrick Harris. Still, it should be fun listening to Eddie say “*bleep* *bleepity* *bleep* Kate Winslet, *bleepity* bleepity* bleep* *bleep*”

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Predicting the Lions

There are few experiences more traumatic and disappointing than being a Detroit Lions fan. I have experienced the basest of embarrassments with a 0-16 season and the heights of mediocrity with a 9-7 season. During all of that time I have only witnessed one playoff victory. The year was 1991. The Lions went 12-4 before blowing out those hated Dallas Cowboys in the playoffs. Unfortunately, it was followed by a humiliating 41-10 defeat to the Washington Redskins in the NFC Championship game. It has been 20 years since the last playoff victory, 12 years since their last playoff appearance and they have never won a Super Bowl (modern football era). Yet, here I am looking forward to a new season.

Each year I look at the schedule and try to determine what type of outcome to expect. I read the articles and listen to the experts. Sadly, one of the experts is no longer with us. Lions’ beat reporter Tom Kowalski was a staple to my daily Internet reading agenda. His prose was witty and informative, his style gruff and intelligent. So it is with a heavy heart that I dedicate this year’s predictions to Tom’s memory.

September 11 at Tampa Bay

4-0 in preseason! Yes. The Lions are going to the Superbowl! Uh oh, there is no running game and the Lions score less than Charlie Sheen at church. Don’t worry though, Ndamukong Suh sacks Josh Freeman 7 times with the last hit actually decapitating the young quarterback. Lions win 19-6.

September 18 Kansas City

1-0! Horrible news- Ndamukong Suh is suspended for decapitation and is given an 8-game suspension. Great news- Javeed Best runs for 187 yards and 3 touchdowns. Hooray for the running game! Lions win 35-21

September 25 at Minnesota

The Lions are 2-0! What?! Javeed Best tore his ACL? How did that happen? What?! That’s not even a Kama Sutra position?! Oh well, no running game again. Luckily Chris Houston intercepts Donovan McNabb 3 times and the Lions edge the Vikings 27-23.

October 2 at Dallas

3-0! How do I buy Super Bowl tickets? The Lions travel into the heart of evil- Dallas, Texas. Unfortunately, cornerbacks Christ Houston and Alphonso Smith accidentally run into each other during practice, both are out indefinitely with concussions. Dallas 27-17.

October 10 Chicago (Monday Night)

3-1! One loss is nothing to worry about. Plus, this is Monday Night Football. The last time the Lions were on Monday Night Football an Olsen Twin threesome would have been illegal. The fans are pumped, the players are invigorated and Kyle Vandenbosch has the Lions second quarterback decapitation of the season. RIP Jay Cutler. Lions win 42-0.

October 16 San Francisco

4-1 and a home game against an easy team! Unfortunately the NFL suspended Kyle Vandenbosch 8 games for his decapitation hit. Also, Matthew Stafford is pulled in the 3rd quarter with tendonitis in his throwing shoulder. San Francisco 9-3.

October 23 Atlanta

4-2. Okay, we’re still on track for the playoffs. Stafford is out but Shaun Hill is ready to go. The Lions are penalized 17 times for 143 yards which is exactly 140 more yards then they were able to rush. Matt Ryan lights up the Lions’ depleted secondary. Lions lose 31-10. Fans rush to the online forums complaining that it is the lack of professional cheerleaders that is leading to the team’s demise.

October 30 at Denver

The Lions are now 4-3. Things are getting pretty depressing. Shaun Hill is injured. He apparently fell on his hand against Atlanta breaking four bones. He played through the pain and nobody knew of the injury until after the game. Drew Stanton is now the starting quarterback. Luckily they’re playing Denver and are able to squeak in a win. Lions win 28-27. TOIBW (Thank Orbson it’s the Bye Week)

Week 9 Bye Week

5-3! Sure we had some tough times in the first half but 5-3 is not bad. Suh will be back soon and Stafford is expected to start against Chicago. Plus, they have two weeks to prepare and rest. I need to start looking into the Super Bowl tickets again.

November 13 at Chicago

Stafford is back and the Lions put up 28 points in the first half. Unfortunately in the 3rd quarter defensive end Julius Peppers throws Jeff Backus through the air and onto Stafford who stays down holding his shoulder. Stanton comes in and throws two straight interceptions but the somehow the Lions manage to hang on 31-28.

November 20 Carolina

6-3! Ndamukong Suh is back! Stafford is still out with a “bruised shoulder” but Shaun Hill is able to come in and throw left handed. Not a great solution but better than Stanton, Hill is able to keep the Lions in the game. The game reaches overtime where Cam Newton is leading the Panthers downfield. That is until Suh gets angry and sacks Newton causing a fumble. Lions win 27-21. The memorial service for Cam Newton will take place the following Wednesday.

November 24 Green Bay

7-3! Awesome record, not so awesome NFL ruling: “We regret to inform the Lions organization and fans that Ndamukong Suh will no longer be allowed to play in the NFL. The strength and ferocity of Suh is unmatched. We fear for the lives of the other quarterbacks in the league and hereby ban Suh from the NFL.” There is a massive outcry which distracts the Lions from this week’s Thanksgiving Day game. Plus, the Packers are much, much better. Packers 38-3

December 4 at New Orleans

7-4! Suh is out but first round draft pick Nick Fairley is finally cleared to play. Sadly, he is not any good and is pulled within ten minutes. A rash of turf related injuries occur for the Lions who whimper out of New Orleans with only 3 points and a lot of beaded necklaces. Saints 35-3

December 11 Minnesota

7-5. Only 6 points in the last two games. What has happened to this offense? Luckily cornerbacks Chris Houston and Alphonso Smith are back and intercept Donovan McNabb three more times. Lions play well and win 24-13.

December 18 at Oakland

8-5. Being on the road against a mediocre Oakland team should mean good things. It didn’t. Half of the Lions’ team is on Injured Reserve, the other half has the flu. People suspect that Stafford may have more than a bruised shoulder. The most interesting part of the game is when Raider’s owner Al Davis expressed interest in trading for the Lions’ starting running back who is averaging 1.3 yards per carry. Raiders 17-13.

December 24 San Diego

8-6. Not feeling too good now. San Diego is on fire coming in and Green Bay is next. However, the Lions play awesome. 150 yards on the ground, 300 through the air and they forced 3 turnovers. That is what I’m talking about. Where did I put that info on the Super Bowl ticket lottery?!

January 1 at Green Bay

9-6! Already put a deposit down on my playoff ticket! If we beat Green Bay we are guaranteed a Wild Card spot, otherwise we need some help. Green Bay is 13-2 and resting all of their starters. However, it is really, really cold in Wisconsin in January. Wide receiver Calvin Johnson’s fingers freeze together and he drops 7 passes. Lions lose. Luckily through a series of tiebreaker rules, they grab the last playoff spot. Packers 27-17.

Wild Card Game at Philadelphia

Oh yeah, we’re in the playoffs!!! Oh no, we’re playing the Eagles. Matthew Stafford starts in a surprise move by head coach Jim Schwartz. He lasts three plays before going down on his injured shoulder. Surgery will be required. Still no rushing game, add a dozen penalties and poodle owner Kyle Vandenbosch was thrown out of the game early for pile driving Michael “Dog Killer” Vick into the ground. The season is over, the Lions lose. Well, there is always the Draft! Eagles 38-17.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Orbson's Movie Reviews

Sometimes tragedy jumps up and smacks you in the ball sack. This weekend, I am sorry to say, my Internet stopped working. Over the past week, I’ve worried that it might be ill but hoped it was just a little bug that would pass. On Saturday, it sunk into a coma. The worse part is not knowing what’s wrong. I tried the usual remedies but nothing has worked. I even tried a new modem but all I received were empty clicks. Now I must wait until Tuesday when the cable surgeon will come to determine the fate of my beloved Internet. Until then I will not be able to check my football scores, stream Netflix or enjoy a relaxing session of Jack and Jizz. The weekend’s entertainment could have been pretty lackluster had I not remembered Red Box.

Three Blu-Ray movies helped to fill in the gap left by the lack of Internet- Limitless, I Am Number Four and Source Code. Don’t worry, you won’t find any spoilers here, just some Orbson-esque reviews:

Limitless: The basic concept of this movie makes my special parts tingle. Take one little pill and suddenly you have a Super Brain. Learn languages in hours, master the stock market, remember everything you ever read or saw and finally understand what the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie was about. I was really looking forward to seeing this movie. Unfortunately, they took a great concept and made a crappy movie. I didn’t connect to any of the characters and the film plodded along like a Republican trying to read Shakespeare. By the middle, I was looking around for a pill I could take to make the movie better. Ultimately I’ll give this one 2 out of 5 stars with the extra star for the good idea.

I Am Number Four: I was initially unsure about this one. Netflix thought I would like it, so I figured what the hell. Thank you Netflix. This was a tightly written, fast paced movie with a decent plotline and above average acting. The reviews of this seemed surprisingly mixed with people expressing either love or hate. Perhaps I am just a sucker for a good teen sci-fi action flick. The film follows a young man who tries to fit into a new school. The problem is that he is actually an alien with powers he can’t control and is being hunted by other aliens who want his race annihilated. If nothing else, you should watch this for Teresa Palmer who plays Number 6. Diana Agron (Glee) was a treat, but Teresa, the Australian beauty, was a kick-ass Buffy-esque heroine. Her stunts were outstanding and she definitely made me wish I was Number 9. In the end, I give this a solid 4 out of 5 stars.

Source Code: I expected your typical action movie that was a combination of Groundhog Day and Die Hard. What I got was much more. Jake Gyllenhaal was outstanding as Colter Stevens, a helicopter pilot who wakes to find himself on a commuter train with no memory of how he got there. The next hour and a half was an intense fast-paced mystery and action film that surprised me with its emotional depth. The ending will likely leave many with mixed feeling on the movie. However, I am comfortable rating this 4 out of 5 stars. I also need to mention the outstanding acting of Vera Farmiga who gives a nuanced performance as Colleen Goodwin. The depth she brought to her character with just a look was exceptional.

The fate of my Internet may still be unknown, but it was fun to get back into the movies. Now, to try to find a way to publish this….

They Should be Ashamed: The economy has halted many building projects in Las Vegas, leaving jobs half finished and construction machinery sitting unused. Well, that is until the birth of the Adult Sandbox. People are paying $750 a piece to operate bulldozers and move dirt and rocks around. Now I am not dissing the idea; it actually sounds like fun. However, paying $750 for something like that when many in this country go hungry gives new definition to the term gluttonous bastards.

Someone isn’t Listening: Obama continues to give in to Republican and Special Interests’ demands. On Friday, Obama appeased big business by backed off of his promise to toughen environmental standards. Even though most scientists and the E.P.A. says it’s necessary to uhm, breathe, Obama said no. I can only explain this in one of two ways. Obama is actually a Republican in sane person’s clothing or this country is in even worse shape then we thought. Either way, I am beginning to wonder if Hillary could run again.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Oh Netflix, My Netflix

One of my favorite companies is under siege this week as their new pricing structure took effect yesterday. Many are expecting a wave of cancelled memberships in the coming days, but I for one will remain loyal. The fact is that Netflix’s only mistake was spoiling us too much. First, let’s look at some of the new prices:

Unlimited Streaming: $7.99 per month
3 DVDs at a time per month: $15.99
3 DVDs+Streaming: $23.99

Right now, the Orbson family only has streaming. Our price increase? ZERO. We used to have 3 DVDs (at a time) and paid about $16.99 per month. Then, Netflix offered a new service absolutely free. Instant Streaming. That’s right; a business created a new and innovative product and gave it away for free. Over the years, Netflix has only raised the cost of their service by a couple of dollars. In the meantime, it costs me $12 to see a movie in the theater.

Clearly, online streaming is the future of entertainment. As Netflix’s contracts with the big studios began to expire, the studios have decided to demand much, much more money. We are not talking about millions of dollars we are talking about billions of dollars. Netflix cannot be expected to maintain and grow the current level of available streaming without raising prices. They simply cannot make that work. For those of you who do not watch streaming TV and movies, your price for 3 DVDs actually went down! For the rest of us, it’s time we start paying for that “free” service.

Yesterday, negotiations between Netflix and Starz broke down. Netflix’s stock took a major hit (down 8% after hours) It appears as though that relationship will come to an end. While I was not in the room, I can guarantee that the problem was that Starz wanted more money than Netflix was willing or able to spend. I’m glad they didn’t reach a deal. I had a free 6-month cable subscription to Starz. They show the same five movies over and over again. Kudos to Netflix for not caving in to their demands. However, they do need to pony up the big bucks to pay Sony and maybe even someday HBO in order to have quality streaming content. Those big bucks must come from us.

So, why should we pay more? The reason is that every other option costs ways too much. You may not remember Blockbuster, but I do. $4.95 rental fees for one movie! When we received DVDs we averaged at least 3 per week. That is 12 per month or almost $60 if we went to the video store. Cable and satellite? Well, they can cost $40 a month for just basic cable. $23.99 for everything Netflix offers is not a bad price. It may even be too low.

I really like Netflix. Whenever I receive DVDs they are almost always free of scratches, play perfectly and arrive one day after they are mailed out. The streaming is good quality and instantaneous. While I hate to have to pay more money for any service, I’ll gladly fork over a few bucks for a service I use and love.

Yo Asshole Said What?! – Michele Bachmann would not have a problem with drilling for oil in the Everglades. Seriously, when Satan himself steps up and says “whoa, too far” you know you have one evil Teabagger.

Oh Come On! – The White House released a statement saying that next Thursday’s Presidential address will not interfere with the NFL’s season opener. Come on, I love football but isn’t our nation’s stability is far more important than one football game.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Smart Girls and Stupid T-Shirts

I was reading a story from the Washington Post about a line of long-sleeve t-shirts for young girls. Designed by a company called Self Esteem (oh sweet irony), the shirts have phrases such as “I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me” and “Who has time for homework when there’s a new Justin Beiber album out?” Thanks to a fast-moving grassroots protest, J.C. Penney pulled the line from their stores and stated, “We agree that the 'Too pretty' t-shirt does not deliver an appropriate message, and we have immediately discontinued its sale.” I quickly formed two strong and very conflicting opinions. So, even though I try to avoid them, I checked out the comments section of the article. Though mostly illiterate and often profane (and not in a funny way) the opinions seemed equally split. I checked out a few Psychology Today articles on teen behavior, but still have not been able to fully support one side of this issue. Thus, I thought I would present both opinions to my Disciples for your amusement (I always enjoy listening to the voices argue) and discussion.

I have a few strongly held opinions that I believe are true regardless of the side I fall on this issue:

1. Freedom of speech and freedom of expression are fundamental rights that should only be limited in very rare circumstances.

2. In the past (and I’m afraid even in the present), there has been an erroneous gender stereotype that men are better academically than women. This is just STUPID.

3. Young children often try to gain approval from the peers they admire by attempting to emulate the peers’ behavior. Unfortunately, the “captain of the football team/head cheerleader” or “the pretty people” stereotypes are those most frequently envied.

4. The statements on the discontinued shirts are completely indefensible. I would be embarrassed if one of my imaginary children ever wore one and would mock anyone I saw wearing one on the street. They are essentially a big flashing neon sign saying, “Hey, look at me, I’m really stupid!”

Given these opinions, here are my two opposing arguments:

Orbson Says Ban the Stupid

Our children are impressionable. By selling shirts such as these, J.C. Penney is condoning the idea that it is okay for girls to be stupid so long as they’re pretty. Since these shirts are geared to younger girls, the message is even more dangerous. Given the cultural stereotypes that have long lingered in this country regarding women and education, this type of message is both discriminatory and wrong. The grassroots effort to remove the shirts as well as the store’s response, were all reasonable and thus I believe it is perfectly okay to “ban the stupid”. The shirts can still be purchased if someone really wants them, just not in a family-oriented department store. I would not want anyone telling my imaginary daughter that it is more important to be pretty than to be smart.

Orbson Says Get Over Yourselves

We live in a free country and should be able to express ourselves however we choose. The shirts were meant as a joke, even though they’re not remotely funny. Still, I don’t believe that seeing a peer wear one would automatically make my imaginary daughter believe that stupid was cool. For her entire imaginary life I have been teaching her the value of education and the power of knowledge. If she saw someone wearing one of those shirts, I would hope she would join me in a fun session of Mock the Moron. The grassroots effort seems to believe that my imaginary daughter is on the edge of a precipice between the Stupid and the Smart and just seeing one of these shirts would throw her over the edge. If I did a good enough job instilling values in her I would hope that would not be the case. I would have also told her of the many very cool and very pretty women that are well educated. Natalie Portman and Ashley Judd went to Harvard. Claire Danes, Jennifer Connelly and Kate Beckinsale went to Oxford. Lauren Graham and Maggie Gyllenhaal went to Columbia. There will undoubtedly be times in her life when she sees someone she thinks is “cool” doing something I think is “wrong”. I cannot guard her from everything. I can only give her the tools to make good choices and be there for her if she stumbles. Finally, banning one shirt will just lead to banning others. Football shirts represent violence, the rock band on that shirt has a song with a naughty word, that organization is too liberal. Where does it end? We should not tell people what their children can and can’t wear. We should let parents be parents and then join together to mock those who would actually buy one of these ridiculous shirts.

I’ll let each of you decide for yourselves which opinion has more merit. As for me, I’m going to go talk about this topic with my imaginary daughter and see what she has to say.

Other Surprising Celebrities who went to Ivy League Schools (there were hundreds).
Matt Damon, Tommy Lee Jones, Conan O’Brien and Steve Zahn and Rivers Cuomo (the lead singer of Weezer) went to Harvard.
Jodie Foster, Edward Norton, Meryl Streep, Jordana Brewster and Paul Giamatti went to Yale.

Weezer Likes Smart Girls Too!

The title photograph was taken from a Washington Post Blog which itself was taken from the J.C. Penney website. As today's entry is a criticism of the shirt and in many ways, a news story, I believe it falls under the Fair Use Doctrine of the copyright infringement laws.