Saturday, October 11

CDP Top 30 Of All-Time ('06-'08) - #20.

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#20 - "Who Wants To Date An Internet Has-Been?"
(Originally Published August 11, 2008.)



There are very few things about me that I would classify as 'attractive,' and that's not due in part to the self-deprecating nature of my personality, either. I'm just aware that I'm a fairly average guy. Average height. Average build. Average income and social status. Mediocre teeth. Fair-to-good fashion sense and adequate shoe size. Acceptable taste in music, food, film and the fine art of smooching. I've accepted long ago that my face is sitting smack in the middle of the Bell Curve. Hey, someone's gotta do it; might as well be me.

There's nothing too wrong or too right with yours truly, which possibly explains why most people refer to me as an 'average joe' writer. I'm easy to relate to (I hope), because I'm probably not better looking than you, and yet I'm not so repulsive as to be unable to view directly for more than three seconds without tasting bile. Story of my life, really: always surrounded by enough ugly people to not get pummeled, yet always around enough attractive people to not get laid.

Or, perhaps people refer to me as an 'average joe' because I have nothing of interesting importance to say and look like I should be managing a bait shop in Alma, Wisconsin. I'm going to assume it's the former, for the good of my future.

I have flaws, no question about it. Braces did very little to straighten my teeth out, due in part to me following approximately 1/100th of the proper care and maintenance instructions relayed to me by my large, intimidating, Asian Orthodontist ("You wear retainer? You lying!"). I'm about as pale as Edgar Winter with cancer, a trait that was passed down by my Mother's side of the family; an entrepreneurial group of people that valued white-collar business sense to anything that even vaguely resembled the outdoors. My anxiety requires loving patience, I cannot cook and I could stand to lose ten pounds. Oh, people say that I have a funny walk, too.

So, after all of that, what do you presume that I find to be my most alluring physical and sociological attributes?

Well, I'm pretty good at mini-golf, I'll tell you that right off the bat. My sense of humor is fairly broad (I've never understood people who appreciate only one type of humor; I'll watch Best In Show and Wipeout in the same night and find them both hilarious), and if you hang out with me, I'll make you laugh at least once or die trying. I take pride in not being a neanderthal, I value not looking like Buddy Ebsen (unless it's Halloween), and I think my neck and chin are very structurally sound, displaying an aura of masculinity and strength unparalleled by my tiny wrists and passive-aggressive annoyances.

That's pretty much it. Oh, and my 11-inch penis. Almost forgot.

Spend enough time with me, and if you're even halfway-decent at reading personalities, you'll see my good and bad points almost immediately (this process is accelerated when I'm intoxicated). I smell nice, but I curse a lot. I'll buy you a drink, but I'll probably be really deliberate about it. The more comfortable I feel around you, the more nice things I'll do for you, but the more I'll end up trying to offend you to see where your limits are (this is the only fun I typically have at parties). At the end of the day, however, you could do a lot worse.

You're probably asking yourself, 'What is this douchebag rambling on about?'

This is what I'm rambling on about.



The above screenshot comes to us from Facebook, the biggest online mistake I've made in the last four years (until that point, my biggest online mistake was discovering that 'Pain Olympics' video where that guy chops his ween off). It should be noted that I never wanted to get into 'Social Networking,' but I signed up for Facebook last Summer so I could get the word out about 65 Poor Life Decisions. That's right, I joined Facebook to sell more copies of my book, and I'm happy to say that it worked like an absolute charm. Every other aspect of it can shine my taint like a 2009 penny. This is the same reason you don't see me on MySpace, Twitter or anything else that's simply in the business of uncreative communication.

"I'm at the supermarket now! C-YA!"
"Why are hamburger buns so expensive these days? Grrr!"
"I just shot a black man! Lolzerz!"

Regardless, somewhere along the line I was suckered into entering this 'Social Profile' nonsense, which makes your name available to other friends who wish to 'rate' you against others under a variety of categories, such as 'Who's Hotter?' and 'Who's Child Would You Rather Abort?' Hard-hitting queries like that.

Really, one of the primary goals of Social Networking is to see to it that High School never ends for those who peaked during those late teen years. Funny thing is, a quick search of all of the popular people from my High School reveals some of the saddest and most rapid descents from greatness since King Lear. The women that I found so beautiful and untouchable at the age of 17 are now disgraceful rednecks with equally disgraceful redneck husbands; each wearing baseball caps, reeking of Miller High Life and working a crease into their personalized barstool for all of eternity. They will sit in their hometown until Judgment Day, retelling their story of past greatness to anyone unfortunate enough to wander into earshot without an exit strategy. These people eventually become aunts and uncles, and I'm sure you have a few of them in your family as we speak. Hell, maybe you are one of them, I don't know and I barely care.

I find that hilarious. Makes me glad to know that I was borderline-retarded for the first 21 years of my existence. After the roller coaster of Life drops down that first awesome hill, none of the other ones can ever be as high. It's basic physics.

I was never popular, but I was never spat upon, either. I was the type that could wander away from my core group from time to time and fit in wherever I went. I'd bet that approximately 75% of my graduating class would remember me, and out of that group, 85% of them would remember me with some degree of apathetic fondness or indifference. I'll take those kind of odds any day, and so would you if you had the chance.

But back to this goddamn Facebook thing. Typically, I have all Facebook-related e-mails forwarded straight to the Spam folder, but I opened this one up for whatever reason and viewed the 'Dateable?' statistic. Like most of us, I laughed it off at first. I even was optimistic about it.

"Wow, four people clicked 'Yes?' I wonder who they were. That was awfully nice of them."

But after...I don't know...say, six seconds of that nonsense, I got really, profoundly depressed. In all honestly, this was one of the most apparent and glaring admissions of public worthlessness among my peers that I've ever received. To put it another way, if you were in a room with 27 other people, and when asked who would be interested in dating you, nobody raised their hands, wouldn't you feel like running out of the room and bawling your eyes out in the stairwell, wiping away your tears and smeared eyeshadow on the corners of your seafoam dress? Not one person out of 27 wanted to take a chance on me? Doesn't anyone complete these surveys drunk anymore?

I calmed myself down. Surely, there was a perfectly good reason for this. Perhaps most people selected 'no' because I'm a married man. Perhaps they were classy women that wouldn't even consider the unlikely possibility that I'd ever return to the dating market again. Perhaps they were showing respect to the Missus. Perhaps I was being compared alongside of unbelievably good-looking men like Jesse Russell and Bruce Dierbeck, and hadn't a prayer against their photogenic and pheromone-gushing ways. Surely, there was some sort of intangible, some foreign variable that affected the decision apart from "I just plain don't want to date this dorkface."

For the eight-hundred billionth time in my life, something as superficial as a Facebook application has turned my world inside-out. If I'm an average guy (as previously theorized), then that number should be approximately 50/50. Not 87/13 (yeah, I used a calculator). If Facebook is correct, and the word of the People is correct, then I am significantly below average when it comes to being anything even resembling a catch. When did this happen? When did I go from 'Likable Average Joe' to 'If it were down to you and Tom Arnold, I'd still probably have to flip a coin?'

Back to this in a minute, because there was one other stat on that chart that killed me.

Out of the four people kind enough to say that they would date me if given the opportunity (actually, if truly given the opportunity, that number would presumably taper off even further; everyone wants what they can't have), only one woman gave a reason for the approved selection, being that I was 'Funny.' I assume that the other three had very complex theories as to why I'd be a suitable prospective mate; my clean STD record and delicate musk being just two of what I'd argue are dozens of reasonable examples. Whoever the girl was that took the time to offer an explanation, I sincerely thank you and love you.

I also know that it wasn't the Missus who did it, because she thinks I'm one of the least-funny guys on the planet. The last time I made her laugh was when I made a fart noise during a commercial for the 'Rascal' Scooter. She's very refined.

So, what's to make of this? Well, most logical folk will say 'nothing.' I, on the other hand, am only logical concerning the problems of others. The fact that I've written thousands of neurotic words on the subject is a good indicator of this truth. Facebook says that I'm unpopular, unfunny and less desired than about 70% of the World's population. Nobody wants to date me, nobody wants to talk to me and nobody wants to tell me why. Remember my brilliant High School analogy from before? Well, it's beginning to feel so much like 1997 in here that I can hear Savage Garden's 'Truly, Madly, Deeply' gently wafting out of my computer speakers as I speak.

Only now I can drink myself into unconsciousness legally.

Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day. Get your free and completely un-dateable CDP Desktop Wallpaper right here.

Friday, October 10

CDP Top 30 Of All-Time ('06-'08) - #21.

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#21 - "A Ziploc Bag Full Of Chocolate Chip Cookies."
(Originally Published April 30, 2008.)

A Ziploc Bag Full Of Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Yesterday, as I was packing my lunch for work, I threw in a Ziploc bag full of chocolate chip cookies. I had purchased a tub of the soft, silver dollar-sized cookies from the market last week, and thought they would bridge the Hunger Gap between lunch and when I leave for the day. This gap is normally bridged by either a Twix or vending machine egg salad, both of which usually lead to me spending the better part of the afternoon on the toilet.

I have a tender tummy.

I'm typically a creature of habit when it comes to my meals, but I've been taking strides to not eat out for lunch so much, as it's bankrupting me and making me heart attack-y and chubby (I'm this close to having to buy Medium-sized shirts). I needed to find a way to spice up my lunchtime routine, and the Ziploc bag full of chocolate chip cookies would be a perfect tonic to my monotony.

As my workday trudged forth, I forgot all about the Ziploc bag. I was so bogged down with phone calls, meetings and paperwork, that it became a distant memory. So when 2:30pm rolled around, and I pulled open my desk drawer to look for a Sharpie, imagine my shock when I rediscovered the Ziploc bag full of chocolate chip cookies, shining like a white-collar beacon in my otherwise dreary day. My eyes lit up, and I leapt at the bag like Dobby the House Elf snatching a bag of gold coins. What a delightfully grand surprise!

As I sat there, shoveling the factory-made treats into my maw, I became intensely self-aware as to how funny the situation was. Here I was, at the relatively young age of 26, sitting in a cubicle at a State office, wearing tan khakis and a polo shirt, cramming cookies down my throat like they were the antidote to all of my abject misery and depression.

When I was six years old, it would have taken a Nintendo Entertainment System to instill this much joy in me. When I was 17, I'm quite certain that there was nothing on Earth that would have made me as happy as I was at this moment. Everything I've worked for, everything I've learned and all the strides I've made as a man and a member of the human race have boiled down to this; damn-near whizzing my pants at the forgotten prospect of eating a Ziploc bag full of chocolate chip cookies. As image-conscious as I normally am, it was probably one of the saddest revelations of my life.

I started laughing. Hard. After all, it was pretty hilarious, and it sure beat crying. I couldn't keep my mouth shut; crumbs and bits of chocolate chip were spilling down the front of my shirt. That only made me laugh harder. I started wheezing and snorting through my nose, eventually dropping the bag into the trash and busting into an all-out guffaw that attracted the attention of those around me. Tears welled up in my eyes and I took in the absurdity and triviality of the Human Experience.

In less than a minute, I had learned a powerful life lesson. I also had a mess to clean up.

Don't be embarrassed of what makes you happy. Even if it's just a Ziploc bag full of chocolate chip cookies, dig your fat ass in and enjoy the moment. It doesn't matter what you look like, it doesn't matter how much money you make and it doesn't matter what you thought this life was going to bring you, rest assured that this is all we have, and waiting for any other joy to arrive will be considered a waste when the last page is turned, I promise.

Happiness is a cookie. Happiness is getting five green lights in a row on your way to work. Take the time to admire the sadness in the realization that it's the honest truth, then allow yourself to enjoy it with every fiber of your being.

Let the crumbs fall down your shirt; you deserve it.

Thursday, October 9

CDP Top 30 Of All-Time ('06-'08) - #22.

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#22 - "The CDP's Top 15 NES Games Of All-Time."
(Originally Published May 12, 2008.)

Top 15 NES Games Of All-Time.

Here's an essay I've been working on for a few weeks; The CDP's Top 15 NES Games Of All-Time. It's loaded with links, clips, pop culture goodness and various other things that will entertain you thusly if you have the patience to check out everything I've thrown into it (and if you are a child or man-child of the 80's). Please enjoy; the CDP will return when Headquarters is fully functional. Thanks, and enjoy the next few days.

It should also be noted that this is a list of my favorite NES games, not some be-all-to-end-all list that I think you'll agree entirely with. Furthermore, if you feel the need to explain in detail why Castlevania was better than Metal Gear, chances are that we're going to end up being friends anyway. Let's go.

Pre-Countdown Honorable Mentions go to: Castlevania (for being scary), Contra (for being extremely difficult without the Konami Code), Ghouls-'N-Ghosts (for being absolutely impossible), Ninja Gaiden (for the kickass storyline), Final Fantasy (for being Final freaking Fantasy) & Double Dragon II (for the Cyclone Spin Kick).

Super Mario Bros. 2.

15. Super Mario Bros. 2

SMB2 is hard. Really hard. Interest-rate mortgage calculation over 30 years, adjusted for inflation with PMI included-hard, as far as this guy is concerned. In fact, I've never actually won SMB2 without the assistance of a certain Game Genie-esque device that allowed me to leap over levels and attack Wart with Matrix-style bullet-time speed. Furthermore, SMB2 wasn't even a Mario game until it was repackaged for American audiences in 1988 (and was featured in the first issue of Nintendo Power, which I proudly own).

That all being said, the music, cartoonish boss appeal and multiple-character selection were all fairly groundbreaking at the time (not to mention the bizarre androgeny of Birdo), and I put many a controller through the drywall trying to reiterate myself with the jumping scheme and new Mario features. I played this game so much as a child, that I named my cat at the time 'Meowser,' a take-off of the bad-ass SMB2 boss, Mouser.

Don't laugh, asshole, I was 7. It's still one of the more clever things I've done.

YouTube Goodness - The Mouser Battle.

Ring King.

14. Ring King

Where to start with the awesomeness that is Ring King? The fighters that ranged in color from Simpsons yellow to nearly-dead E.T. gray? The knockouts that could literally eject your opponent from the stadium? Or how about the most unintentional sexual act in NES history, the imfamous 'cornerman bob-n'-weave?' Ring King was a game that was simple to play (the button-mashing controls assured that first-timers could kick any seasoned pro's ass), which meant that the multi-player tournaments were always a blast.

An underrated NES party game, especially when two n00bz would duke it out for the first time. It normally looked like a Toughman competition; just two guys teeing off on the other's face until someone up and died. And what's more fun than that?

YouTube Goodness - Knocked Out Of The Stadium.

R.C. Pro-Am.

13. R.C. Pro-Am

There are many NES-related moments that we can all, as retro gamers, remember fondly. In my opinion, there was never anything funnier than watching someone attempt to play R.C. Pro-Am for the first time. The control scheme, completely impossible to explain or understand (until it became a permanently ingrained part of your central nervous system), virtually assured that the first 20 attempts at Track 1 would consist of 90-degree pinwheeling into every barrier, wall or oil slick in existence. Once you got it down, you were unstoppable, but when your friend took the reins for the first time, the epic failure was pure bliss.

Special attention goes out to the Yellow Car and its 'impossible speed' bursts in later stages of the game; one of the first examples of outright 'cheating' by computer AI. Go to hell, unnamed driver. You're the reason my trophy room is full of bronze wrenches.

YouTube Goodness - Opening Tracks & The Trophy Room.

TMNT2: The Arcade Game.

12. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game

I have an extremely fond memory of attending a birthday party at Aladdin's Castle in the 3rd Grade (remember when arcades used to be amazing?). Myself and my three closest friends pooled our ridiculously large amount of game tokens into a small mound under the TMNT cabinet and went to town, winning the game two times in a row.

Girls were gently patting the sweat off of our brows and assisting us with generous sips of Mello Yello as we stayed focused and united. I was Donatello; I was always Donatello. It was one of my most treasured video game achievments; I think we pumped $80 into that damn machine.

I can't even remember who's birthday it was that day, solidly proving that the best memories aren't necessarily the ones that you purposely set out to create.

YouTube Goodness - Rocksteady's Got April!

The Legend Of Zelda.

11. The Legend Of Zelda

If you ever find yourself talking to me at length about something I couldn't care less about (and chances are that you are), The Legend Of Zelda theme music is probably running through my head on a constant loop. I'm ashamed to admit that I jumped on the Zelda train a little late in my childhood, but the joy and reward was just the same. Summer nights spent in a friend's garage, drinking copious amounts of Kool-Aid and listening to C+C Music Factory on the boom box. It's what memories are made of.

Come to think of it, I don't think I ever got that C+C Music Factory tape back. I have a phone call to make.

YouTube Goodness - One Of The Best Commercials Ever.

Excitebike.

10. Excitebike

The overwhelming frustration of overheating mere inches from the finish line. Creating a custom track that launched you directly into a wall on purpose. Tripping up opponents just before an obstacle that sent them slo-mo tumbling for fifteen seconds straight. Excitebike was one of those games that absolutely everyone had, so we're mostly united in our gaming experiences.

I was playing Grand Prix for the Atari 2600 a few weeks ago (a game that I called 'Grand Pricks' in 1988, because I didn't know any better), and it made me long for Excitebike; the image of your character standing yards away from the Top 3 finishers, head bowed in shame, is one of the more psychologically damaging moments of failure in early gaming history. They should have just showed me a picture of my mom getting kicked in the stomach by Darth Vader; it may have hurt a little less.

YouTube Goodness - Knocking Out Track 5.

Tecmo Super Bowl.

9. Tecmo Super Bowl

Forget Madden. It's well-documented that Tecmo Super Bowl is the greatest football game in history. Tournaments are still held all over the nation on a weekly basis, and YouTube clips of 500-yard, quarter-length scampers are plentiful. This is the game that will keep the fond memory of Christian 'The Nigerian Nightmare' Okoye in my head forever, as the game designers simply threw their hands in the air one night and said, "You know what? Screw everything; let's just make him impossible to tackle."

That, my friends, is awesome. "No fair; you can't be the Chiefs!"

YouTube Goodness - Superman Okoye Destroys The Colts.

Mega Man 2.

8. Mega Man 2

Taken from the Mega Man 2 Wikipedia page: "Mega Man 2 was named by GameSpot as one of 'The Greatest Games of All Time.' It was also honored in Nintendo Power's 'Top 200 Nintendo Games Ever' list, ranked at number 33. Creator Keiji Inafune claims the success of Mega Man 2 is what made the Mega Man series a hit that continues to spawn sequels."

I couldn't have said this better myself. Furthermore, I can't tell you how many 'Wood Man' jokes I've made over the years. Heh-heh....'wood.'

Penis.

YouTube Goodness - The Timeless Introduction To Mega Man 2.

Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!

7. Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!

Well, here's one we can all probably agree on. The cast of characters was comedic and all-encompassing. The 'Dream Fight' code is etched in our subconscious until the end of time (right off the top of my head: 007-373-5963). The sweat-drenched survival of the first 90 seconds with Iron Mike. Trailing behind Doc Louis' bike while jogging in a pink tracksuit past the Statue Of Liberty. King Hippo. It's all here.

Punch-Out!! is one of those games that I will still be playing and enjoying when I'm 50, and maybe by then I'll get the timing down with Super Macho Man. I once had to dodge his 'Super Spin Punch' 38 damn times in a row.

As a side note, I didn't actually win this game until I was in my late teens, and as I celebrated this long-awaited accomplishment alone in my bedroom, I became acutely aware that good memories are worthless unless they can be shared. Hours later, however, I lost my virginity, so I'd say it was a pretty good day for me.

YouTube Goodness - Iron Mike Gets Owned.

Super Mario Bros.

6. Super Mario Bros.

I once read an IGN or GameSpy article proclaiming that "Super Mario Bros. IS gaming." This is unquestionably true; it launched a rebirth of video gaming that has been doing nothing but pick up steam and generate billions of profitable dollars from losers like me for the last 22 years. I cannot offer anything that hasn't already been said in praise of SMB, nor can I properly convey its importance to technology and global culture.

What I can tell you is that the first time I won SMB, I was horribly sick with the flu, and in my overly-hyper celebration, yodeled groceries directly into the box fan whirring in my grandparents' living room. Whatever splatteriffic result you're imagining in your head, I can assure you it was actually far worse. It still didn't deter my celebration; how could it?

YouTube Goodness - Amazing SMB Race.

Metroid.

5. Metroid

Metroid has been considered by many to be the greatest NES game ever made, for a number of reasons. The amazing weapons, storyline and unparalleled code system. The weeks of sleepless nights it took to finally take down the Mother Brain. The twist ending of having to escape the lair to avoid death, even after defeating the boss. And of course, the ultimate twist ending, revealing that our main character and bad-ass hero was actually a woman. That revelation alone transcended Metroid into the stratusphere when it comes to games that had a cultural impact, with endless sequels and legions of fans.

The first time I battled a Metroid, I distinctively remember yelping in terror. Those things were a goddamn nightmare, as I've always had a problem with things that latched onto other things and sucked their lives dry. Like David Spade.

YouTube Goodness - The Final Battle & Best Ending.

Metal Gear.

4. Metal Gear

The beginning of what is probably the greatest action franchise in gaming history. This one had it all: Spying. Traitors. Intrigue. Weapons galore. The glorification of cigarettes. The final twist and realization that your trusted boss has been setting you up for the fall from the very beginning, and it's up to you to take him out once and for all. My 'Official Metal Gear Map' is tattered and held together exclusively with Scotch tape and memories, but thinking back to insomniac weekends spent conquering this game is the perfect definition of childhood happiness.

This game is also noted for its 'Engrish,' with phrases such as "The truck have started to move!" and "I feel asleep!" Oh, and you get penalized if you shoot the prisoners that you're trying to capture, so try not to do that, even though they're sitting there, all tied up and pathetic. Show restraint, Solid Snake (To this day, I'm still baffled that the game designers decided to name their main character after what amounts to nothing more than an erection joke).

YouTube Goodness - The Opening Levels To Metal Gear.

River City Ransom.

3. River City Ransom

River City Ransom has received a cult following and legions of devoted fans (ironically) after being named the 'Most Underrated NES Game Of All-Time' by Nintendo Power magazine. And as far as start-to-finish, vague storyline-driven games go, this was one of the most fun games you'll probably ever play.

Follow the map, beat the piss out of every gang in River City and save your girlfriend. Rob the thugs, hit the stores to buy goods that will make yourself stronger. Nowadays, most games follow this structure; back in the day, River City Ransom was the only game in town. The music was tight, the locations were great, the weapons and violence were supreme and the replayability factor is off the charts. I still play this game.

YouTube Goodness - Basic Clip That Will Convince You Of RCR's Awesomeness.

Tetris.

2. Tetris

Here it is. The game that gave almost all of its fans Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. The game that actually spawned a psychological after-effect known as the 'Tetris Effect.' The game that is so ingrained into our minds and memories that we can actually fantasize about playing a game. Tetris deserves to sit right next to Chess and Poker as one of the greatest games in the history of mankind; a premise so simple and addictive that it changed the lives of arguably billions of people.

It's f***ing Tetris, man!

YouTube Goodness - You're Nowhere Near The Best Player On Earth.

Super Mario Bros. 3.

1. Super Mario Bros. 3

February 12, 1990. I had just turned 8 years old one week earlier, and pooled every penny I had received as a gift and ran to Toys-R-Us. There, behind the glass, hung the greatest Nintendo game of all-time. Super Mario Bros. 3. After seeing SMB3 for the first time in Fred Savage film The Wizard the year before (and what a brilliant marketing ploy, by the way), I knew that it was my destiny to conquer this game like a five-dollar whore.

I had the strategy guide. I had the maps. I had the entire Summer to hone my craft, and indeed I did. In the Summer of 1990, I won SMB3 an astounding 100 times, something that I'd argue that nobody else has ever done. I'd get up in the morning, eat breakfast, play some basketball and win SMB3. The next day, I did the same; so on and so forth, until school was back in session.

As depressing as that may sound, it was actually quite amazing. Friends would come over and win with me. I'd win with one life. I'd win using no Warp Zones. I even won some levels by looking into a mirror. It was probably the best Summer ever.

YouTube Goodness - Mario! Mario!

Thanks for reading. Sound off in the comments section and let us know what your favorite NES games are.

Wednesday, October 8

CDP Top 30 Of All-Time ('06-'08) - #23.

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#23 - "My iPod 'Asploded."
(Originally Published August 9, 2007.)

Hi, Gabe.

ACT I.

Last week, I noticed that there weren't sounds coming out of my iPod when I pressed the buttons. This troubled me. Normally, when I pressed the buttons, sound would come out. Good sound.

Since my car doesn't have an AUX input (or a CD player), I've been listening to my iPod through an FM transmitter. Basically, it means that I hear my iPod tunes through a static radio frequency. It hardly ever works, the sound quality is embarrassing and any drive through multiple counties is an excruciating ordeal. Living in a city as large as Madison, merely driving to work means that I'll be toggling the transmitter for 18 of the 20 minutes I'm on the road. Still though, 2 minutes of music time is equivalent to 3.2 Descendents songs, so the trade-off isn't all that bad.

What I was unaware of is a little thing called a 'Power Surge.' You may have heard of such a thing in regards to your television and computer. You buy special outlets to protect your expensive electronics from welding themselves to the nearest metal surface every time lightning strikes near your home. Why, just last week, a Power Surge blew out my TiVo. Everything went dark, numbers started flashing and strobing; I seriously thought that I was about to get abducted by aliens. Power Surges are the real deal; but I didn't realize that they can happen in your car, too.

To make a long story short, I plugged 'Poddie' into the cigarette lighter before I started the car, and when I hit the ignition, it exploded. A device of its delicate size and power, Poddie didn't have a prayer holding up to the amount of energy produced by an '01 Mercury Sable (The Wild Stallion, v4.0). It was utterly destroyed; taken out behind the woodshed and manhandled like an eight-dollar Amsterdam whore. Remember when John Koncak tried to guard Michael Jordan in the 1995 Eastern Conference Finals? I think you get the point. P.W.N.3.D.

I was pretty upset. While I always treated Poddie with the utmost respect and care, I neglected to see the warning on the FM transmitter box that read, "There's a more-than-likely chance that this product will lead to the instant destruction of the very device it has been created for." In fact, I'm pretty sure that it never said that on the box at all.

So, my iPod was ruined. Butchered. Ball-gagged and sodomized. I didn't worry too much, however, because it was still under a 1-year warranty from Apple. With that in mind, I marched it right over to the local Apple Store for a replacement the very next day.

ACT II.

He wasn't wearing a lab coat; that should have been my first warning sign.

If you've never been to an Apple Store, all of the employees either walk around with lime green polo shirts or long, white lab coats. I think they do this so they're easy to spot, look like a cohesive and intelligent unit, and create yet another way to express superiority over non-Mac folks. It's a good marketing ploy; I spent most of my visit watching YouTube clips of myself on an iPhone.

Like I said, my representative was far too stylish to be burdened with a lab coat. Actually, scratch that. I think the problem was that he didn't really work there, because he hadn't the damnest clue what I was talking about. Every question was met with a dumbass stare and a look like I was creating my own language of beeps and clicks as I went along. Furthermore, he was one of those douchebags that thought I didn't try basic troubleshooting before I showed up. My teeth were already grinding before he spoke.

Idiot - "What can I do for you today, sir?"

Me - "Oh hai thar. My iPod isn't responding. It's under warranty, so-"

Idiot - "Is the Hold switch on?"

Me (stunned) - "Um...no. You see, what happened was-"

Idiot - "Did you reset it?"

Me (pressing lips together) - "I can't reset it. It won't turn on at all. There's absolutely no response whatsoever."

Idiot - "Well, let me give you a flier that goes over basic troubleshooting..."

(Idiot hands me a printout from the very same Troubleshooting web page I was on that morning, called 'The 5 R's.')

Me - "Yeah, I've already done all of that. It won't turn on at all."

Idiot - "Let me hook it up to our computer and check it out."

Me (shaking head in disbelief) - "Fine, but it won't recognize it."

Idiot - "Sure it will."

(4 seconds later)

Idiot - "Your iPod doesn't seem to be responding."

Me - "I slept with your Mother."

Thanks for doing your job, ya' ween. To make matters worse, he refused to answer any of my wife's questions, nor find someone else to answer them for her. He sincerely deserved a swift boot to the ballbag with extreme prejudice, and I was the man for the job, but I had forgotten to wear my ballbag-kickin' boots. He got lucky.

ACT III.

I was about to find out that my one-year warranty didn't really cover anything at all; it was merely a window of opportunity to purchase Apple Care, a support service offered to those who spend the $60 within their first year of iPod ownership. At this point in the conversation, though, I was more than willing to write a check to make all of the bad noises go away.

For my $60, I get to mail my iPod back to Apple so they can take a peek at it. They might fix it, they might send me a new one, or they might give me the finger and tell me to stick it. Seriously, this is what your money (and your warranty) gets you; the mere task of cracking Poddie open and determining what I've known for over a week now. I also saw a disclaimer that read 'Does Not Cover Accidental Damage.'

Wait, what? So you'll only cover the repairs if I break it on purpose? I didn't even realize that non-accidental damage even existed! What in the hell is going on, here?

Poddie shipped off to Apple yesterday, and there's a very good chance that I'll never see it again. In the meantime, I'm listening to my 1GB Shuffle ('Artie') and making sure that I start the car and wait 6 hours before plugging it in.

As far as the FM transmitter goes, I'll be through with that as soon as I find out what Apple decides to do for me. There's a kit that you can install that essentially gives you an AUX input in your car, so you can listen to your iPod at digital quality. It costs $200 for purchase and installation, but it'll be worth it to listen to my entire record collection in The Wild Stallion.

Thanks for listening, Emocat. You're always there for me.

Emocat feels bad about the iPod.

"No problem, man."

Tuesday, October 7

CDP Top 30 Of All-Time ('06-'08) - #24.

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#24 - "The Geek.Kon Aftermath."
(Originally Published October 10, 2007.)

The CDP Goes To Geek.Kon.

I had never been to a 'Con' before, and was honestly fearing the worst. I envisioned the sweaty, unwashed masses of overweight humanity, goose-stepping out of their parents' basements, throwing on their best ironic t-shirts or star fleet uniforms, and thoroughly embarrassing myself and my beloved city.

I was pleasantly surprised. I'm also ignorant and more than a little bit of an asshole.

For a first-year, completely free Sci-Fi/Anime/Gaming convention, Geek.Kon 2007 delivered the goods and offered a lot of promise for the future. Thanks to the hard work of volunteers and staff, I firmly envision Geek.Kon to be one of the premiere Cons in the Midwest in no less than five years. The weekend festivities were even featured on CNN!

I'm A Very Important Pansy.
(My VIP pass ensured that I didn't have to wait in line at the Mark Hamill kissing booth.)

Now that the organizers have earned clout, they can charge admission and gather more paying sponsors. This will generate more revenue to secure a better venue, better guests, better prizes and better ways to accommodate and please the ever-growing fan base. Over 1,800 people attended this two-day affair, and I'm guessing that number might double in 2008.

Furthermore, once the CDP is recognized as the funniest and dare I say, sexiest blog in Wisconsin, I'll probably be signing autographs and collecting hotel room keys like nobody's business come next year.

1800 Geeks In One Place.
(Amazingly, the line started forming at 7am on Saturday morning. During CARTOONS!)

My only two criticisms of the event had nothing to do with the Convention itself. The venue needs to be changed (they really had no choice but to hold it here this year), and a lot of the Geeks in question refused to bathe beforehand. However, don't let it be said that Sci-Fi conventions are nothing more than gatherings of pungent, dateless losers with fantasies that would crack even the filthiest psyche, nope! I spotted more cute Cosplay girls than an entire day spent in the Anime section of Suncoast Video. Believe me, I'm there a lot.

I Didn't Approach Them.
(If you were a semi-cute girl in a somewhat-cute looking costume, you pretty much pwn3d the place.)

Here are the details, from what I can recall. I should also mention that a lot of these photographs are not mine. The labeled ones were shot by Chris Norris for Dane 101. Please visit both sites so they don't get mad and make me remove all of them. I've only gotten into copyright trouble one other time, and I really don't want to experience it again.

People Were Getting Tazed Left And Right.
(This hallway was exposed to natural sunlight, so it was for the safety of the Geeks that they avoid it.)

I wanted to arrive right away at 8am on Saturday, to watch the MST3K episode Jack Frost, arguably the best Mike Nelson episode of the entire series. However, campus parking in Madison is a cruel joke, and the Missus had to actually drop me off at the door at around 9:45am while she continued to look for a spot. Had I been any later, I would have forfeited my place in the Guitar Hero II tournament, which was the main reason for my attendance in the first place.

I brought my own axe (pictured above) with its very own case. Considering that some folks brought robots they constructed out of old washing machine parts, I didn't think I was going to get stared at too much.

More Geek Merch Than Would Fit In Your Mom's Basement.
(The Geek.Kon vendors accepted cash, check or anything adorable from Japan.)

I found out that the tournament was going to start a little later than announced, so I did some walking around the convention grounds while my friends were in the process of parking 1.5 miles from the venue (seriously). There were three floors of geek goodness, from LAN parties to DDR to cosplay to Anime viewings to artists to vendors to movies...you name it, it was probably somewhere under the roof of the University of Wisconsin Humanities Building.

Walking around by myself, I lowered my jackass facade a bit and took in how much fun everyone seemed to be having. It was infectious, and it in tune made me happy.

Then my friends showed up, and I went back to making fun of everyone. I never said I was a strong man of character; next time, I'm coming alone.

There Were About 6 Different News Outlets On Hand.
(One of the few chances you can wear a skiing outfit in the Autumn without people thinking you're retarded.)

What shocked me above all was the large amount of press coverage this thing was getting. Every local network, and a few national networks were on hand to roll tape and ask questions. During the Guitar Hero tournament, for example, news crews were really starting to bother the participants while they were trying to play. These poor kids were just trying to win a contest, and some douche from Channel 27 was trying to get their name and information at the same time. Dude, Monkey Wrench is only a three-minute song; just give them a bit, okay?

Next Year, They Can Get Real Celebrities To Host These Panels.
(Yes, women outnumbered the men here. Yes, I have no idea how that happened.)

Since the convention was brand new and free, the organizers couldn't really bring in the Whedons and Wheatons and whatnot (hilarious), so fans and volunteers set up their own panels in which to talk about these people. Personally, I think they did a great job.

Being a huge fan of Japanese music, I was saddened to see that the entire auditorium for the J-Pop panel was standing-room only by the time I got there. On the other hand, I was satisfied that things were going so well. I knew what it was like to put a lot of work into something that nobody else cared about, so it always makes me happy to see a dream play out better than expected.

For example, when I was in High School, I wrote a pretty amazing song about a kid that used to touch himself in the library while looking at pornography on the school's computers. Imagine my shock when everyone was turned off by the whole thing. I thought it was brilliant, and could have rocketed our band to super-stardom. For the time being, "Library Jack-Off Boy" still sits in my filing cabinet, just waiting to be unleashed on the general public.

There Were Seriously Some Great Costumes On Hand.
(The auditorium was packed to the rafters when the CDP made his presentation.)

Being new to the convention scene, I don't know the deal with photograph etiquette. I mean, if I see someone wearing a neat costume that they put a lot of time into, is it polite or impolite to ask for a picture with them? Is it okay to approach strangers in this regard? There were more than a few people who deserved to be the center of attention (the lady in red up above, for example), I just didn't want to come off like a stooge or pervert every time I asked for a picture.

Each time I stared at a younger girl in costume for more than a second, I half-expected Chris Hansen to pop up and tell me to have a seat next to the plate of cookies. Eventually, I just put my head down and made a beeline to the Guitar Hero room. The tournament was about to begin.

Talk Nerdy To Me. Please.
(I don't know who this girl is, I haven't met her and I don't know her name, but I'm almost positive that I love her.)

There were 16 slots in the GHII tournament, and a packed room of about 30 in attendance. The folks who showed up early had the advantage of being able to warm up and get comfortable in the room, while I dashed in 5 minutes beforehand, clutching my guitar and a box of Lemonheads that were my only source of food so far that day. This already wasn't what I had planned for myself.

Nonetheless, I scoped out the competition and took a seat near the back. I stayed unassuming and went through my battle plan and strategy in private.

My strategy? Swear loudly to distract my opponents and throw punches when necessary.

I Was Dressed Like A C-List Local Blogger.
(Say what you want. Those are pretty amazing costumes. My t-shirt and jeans combo didn't stand a chance.)

The preliminary round eliminated the pack from 16 to 8 competitors, which called for everyone to play the same two songs, and cut the bottom 8 total scores. There were a lot of good players in the room, and I was feeling a little nervous before it was my turn to shine. Furthermore, my entourage and wife were late in showing up, and filed in halfway through my first song.

I played pretty good, though, and survived the cut from 16 to 8, ranking #2 overall. This allowed me to have control over what songs I wanted to play during the head-to-head portion of the tournament, excluding if I were to face the #1 ranked seed in the finals.

This did not happen. For, in that very room, my worst nightmare loomed. A sight so intimidating and nerve-shattering, that all who came before it were humbled in their presence.

Of course, I'm talking about the token Asian kid.

I Cannot Believe This Guy Has A Kid.
(Screw the robot, look at this dude's shirt! Raddest. Attire. EVER.)

You know who I'm talking about. At every arcade, in every video game competition, there is a token Asian kid ready to pulverize and destroy everything you thought you knew. He's going to humiliate you, embarrass you with his work ethic and maybe sleep with your girlfriend if he wants to. I don't know what it is about Asian kids that makes them so damn good at video games, but it's almost unfair.

I won my quarterfinal match with ease, and faced the token Asian kid in the semis for a chance to go to the championships. I tried to keep my composure, but I couldn't help but tremble as I plugged my controller into the PS2. "Stick to the game plan," I said to myself. "Stay cool, you can beat this guy!"

It's a good thing the crowd was standing behind me, because I started peeing my pants pretty early into the face-off.

It's Not Really Her, But I'll Take It.
(Not Natalie Portman, but hey, close enough!)

It was a 2-out-of-3 match, and I got the honors of choosing the first song. Instead of my slow and steady, conservative style I adopted to cruise through the tournament, I decided to pick a hard song and see if I could rattle this kid. Of course, we all know that you cannot rattle an Asian kid at anything.

I was destroyed. Manhandled. Embarrassed in front of my wife and friends. Strike 1.

For Round 2, my opponent had the choice of song, and he decided to pick the one song that I absolutely, positively, beyond a shadow of a doubt cannot freaking play. I was almost laughed out of the room, and graciously accepted my 3rd Place finish as the token Asian kid went on to win the tournament.

His prize? A key chain!

I Didn't Have A Prayer Against An Asian Kid.
(Here, I take on my quarterfinal challenger while Fidel Castro sits on my right.)

My friends were shocked at how reserved I was at the outcome, considering that I was just raped in front of 30 people. My opinion was that I played the best I could, and I only would have been mad had I choked for whatever reason. I was fine with the finish, and we were now free to roam about the convention in peace.

Eight seconds later, I grabbed a random dude, booted him right in the rod and threw him out of a third-story window.

Ranked Number 2. It's Better Than Duke.
(Geek.Kon was state-of-the-art, boasting a fully-functional 'chalked board.')

After some more roaming, we finally left Geek.Kon to grab some food. By accident, we wandered into Harvest Fest, which was a huge competing festival dedicated to the legalization of marijuana. I got concerned that I would be photographed and shown on the nightly news, which would assuredly lead to a frantic call from my mother. We hustled out of there pretty quick.

Oh, and to those who want weed legalized? Not going to happen. Ever. Sorry.

I PWN This City.
(I sure hope this sticker gets noticed more than I do. I didn't give away a single thing that day.)

In conclusion, I can't wait for Geek.Kon 2008. To the organizers and volunteers, you did a great job. My only suggestion is that you put a shower on sight for those who desperately need it. If you ever need someone to lead a panel on how to run a moderately successful and ego-driven local blog, I think I might be able to help you out. You have officially converted me.

It's A High-Quality Piece Of Vandalism, Right There.

Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day.

Monday, October 6

CDP Top 30 Of All-Time ('06-'08) - #25.

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#25 - "Eat Me, Cake."
(Originally Published February 15, 2008.)

Grape Death Flavor.

A couple of weeks ago, I picked up Cake's 'B-Sides & Rarities' disk. Cake has been one of my favorite bands for over a decade now, and I wasn't about to let a collection of cover songs and throwaways slip my grasp, regardless of their previous mediocre album. One trip to Best Buy and $10 later, it was mine.

When I got home, I began tearing the CD out of the plastic as the Missus began to prepare dinner directly behind me in the kitchen. As I opened the jewel case, I was instantly hit with an almost indescribably putrid stench. It was as if a tractor tire decided to have sex with a jar of grape jam while a rouge turd worked them both over with a blowtorch and fine oils. It was hellish.

Not thinking for a second that this scent had wafted out of a compact disk case, I quickly turned around to see what the Missus was up to, and find a kind way to opt out of tonight's dinner plans.

"What...in the hell...are you cooking?"

"Nothing yet, why?"

As soon as the last syllable of the last word escaped her mouth, the molten rubber/jam jar/turd gangbang parade reached the inside of her nostrils. She recoiled, as we both stood there for a fraction of a second, completely dumbfounded and unsure of what was going on. It was only a matter of time before the accusations started to fling over which one of us had crapped in their respective pants.

Having never experienced such an unholy reaction to opening an album (with the exception of anything recorded by Something Corporate), we both cocked our heads and slowly wandered over to the open jewel case, as if it were a bomb ready to spew further noxious gas forth. I pressed my nose to the liner notes and inhaled deeply.

Have you ever been blasted with pepper spray? Well, I have, and this was as close as I wanted to get again. I immediately stopped breathing, my eyes began to water and my mouth dropped open. I was one-hundred percent immobilized; women seriously need to start carrying copies of this album around with them for protection. What in the hell was going on?

It was as if we were watching an alien being hatch from a giant egg on our breakfast bar. "This can't be happening!" I yelled. "What IS it!?!" screamed the Missus, hands pressed against her face. I didn't know at the time what had turned 'B-Sides & Rarities' into a virtual Pandora's Box of ass matter and anguish, but I also knew that it wasn't allowed to stay in the house any longer.

I grabbed a pair of tongs and threw the entire contents of the jewel case into the freezing cold garage. Whatever the problem was, it could work itself out there while me and the Missus began the slow and painful healing process back inside the house. She hit the computer and I reached for the Clorox 'kitchen cleansers.'

A few minutes later, we had determined through Wikipedia that the 'B-Sides & Rarities' album boasted a grape-flavored 'scratch-and-sniff' booklet (one of five different flavors). It is my assumption that the fine folks in Cake didn't exactly 'sample the wears' before these bad boys hit the assembly line, nor could accurately judge what the booklet would smell like after several weeks encased in shrink-wrapped plastic. No band that enjoys making money and pleasing fans could have been a part of something so heinous and wrong. Had I been driving a car when I opened that album, you'd probably be reading my obituary right now.

Still, two weeks after the incident, the case, booklet and disk continue to sit in the garage, atop a case of bottled water. Every day, I come home and give them a passing sniff to see if they had learned their lesson, and each day they continue to fail miserably. I refuse to have this...thing...touch anything inside my house or vehicle until every last microfiber of stink has been frozen out of it. I don't even care if the disk itself eventually shatters like a stick of baseball card chewing gum; it's not welcome in Headquarters until it resembles the normal and respected CD I thought I had purchased.

Each night, I wake up in a cold sweat imagining that it somehow made its way into the house, tainting my music collection, computer and office with its own original brand of Sacramento-based, grape-flavored nightmare fuel. If my iMac smelled like this album, you can bet your ass I'd be dragging it to the curb come garbage day.

Why, Cake? Why?




Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day.

Sunday, October 5

CDP Top 30 Of All-Time ('06-'08) - #26.

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#26 - "The CDP vs. PETA."
(Originally Published February 6, 2008.)

...Not Really. They're Good People.

You probably already know this about me, but I'm a vegetarian. I've been meatless for many years now, for a plethora of different reasons pertaining to moral values, health and the advocating of animal rights. I'm proud of the decision I made, and I personally believe it's the right one.

The distinction I like to make, however, is that I'm not one of those vegetarians. I won't get in your face if you choose to eat meat, I won't preach if you choose to hunt, and I won't destroy your carnivorous arguments, regardless of how narrow your mindset happens to be. It's not in my nature, and furthermore, it doesn't win friends or convert people. I've known this for a long time now. Bitch to a meat-eater about eating meat, and they'll just want to eat more meat to shut you up. You'll probably deserve it, too. No sense in trying to change someone like that.

Here's how I look at it. I'm pro-choice on the abortion issue; mainly because I feel that my opinion should carry absolutely no weight when it comes to the choices a female wishes to make with her body and her potential offspring. My take on the issue is about as important as Paris Hilton's take on penile cancer. She doesn't deserve to speak on the issue; nor should I. Unless my sperm was involved somehow, my opinion is worth nothing, and rightfully so.

So, when I travel back to my hometown and view a radical pro-life protest in the parking lot of the Catholic church I was baptized in, it doesn't do much for my biased attitude when I see billboard-sized photographs of aborted fetuses. It just reminds me of a robotic, annoying band of exploitative assholes that I wish not to associate myself with. The argument they were trying to make is lost in the presentation. Had they hit me non-intrusively with a few facts, literature and business cards, perhaps I would have taken them a little more seriously. Or better yet, they could have just assumed that human beings were capable of making their own educated decisions without the further distraction of their guilt and shame-driven racket.

Back to vegetarianism.

It is this humble, somewhat-humanistic and non-confrontational attitude that has kept me opposed to the tactics and ad campaigns produced by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Don't get me wrong, PETA is a respected and well-known organization that gets the word out about the healthy and environmental benefits of a meatless lifestyle, along with the typically unseen horrors of the meat processing trade. What frustrates me is their standard method of gaining publicity. Shock tactics, upside-the-head brutality and public demonstrations that remind me all-too-well of the pro-life demonstrations that irk me so.

The comparison may be slightly unfair and on opposite sides of the political spectrum, but be reminded that PETA is also an organization that modeled an ad campaign after the Holocaust. Yikes. When you have a minute, do a Google Image Search for 'PETA,' just make sure you don't do it while at the office. To say that the message is lost at times is a serious understatement.

So, I'm torn. I want so badly to be a proud PETA member, but at the same time, I get embarrassed each time I turn on the news to see another publicity stunt garnering negative attention (not all attention is good, especially when you're trying to change minds through information and education). This conflict came out during my most recent interview with the Wisconsin State Journal. It reads as follows:

CDP: There have been a couple of times when I've been political or talked about pop culture where people react. I remember awhile ago I did something about vegetarianism.

WSJ: And you are a vegetarian.

CDP: Yes, I am a vegetarian. I think it's important but I don't think it's mandatory. I'm not one of those guys. I don't support PETA since I think they have a good message but their marketing is incorrect. I think they need to find a better way to convert people than these shock tactics.

WSJ: So having naked women posing with signs down on State Street is not your thing?

CDP: Well, it's just not going to convert people. It's converting people to naked women, not vegetarianism. That's not the image you want to portray. So I explained it simply to people who were thinking about it. When I first went vegetarian I had a lot of questions, I thought I'd die, I didn't think I'd survive. After awhile it made sense. I'm just an average guy, I don't work out a lot; So I just wanted to put something out there that was just an average person's guide to going meatless. I got a lot of wonderful emails.

As you can see, I didn't waver on my stance. The point that I made was the one that I always make, being that I believe PETA has a good message, but their marketing is incorrect and alienating not only potential meatless converts, but also loyal and unobtrusive vegetarians like myself. Fair enough, right?

Well, what I forgot was that the WSJ article ran nationwide, and eventually grabbed the interest of PETA; specifically one of the campaign managers. I received this e-mail a few days ago; the name has been withheld because I'm not in the business of getting sued:

Dear Mr. Zeinert,

We at PETA were thrilled to read in the Wisconsin State Journal that you’re a vegetarian and have written about 'going meatless' on your blog. However, as someone who has organized and participated in several 'naked' PETA protests, I would like to share our reasons for using 'shock tactics' in our efforts to raise awareness of animal suffering.

Before people will stop buying, for example, fur coats, they must be aware of the industry’s cruelty to animals. Getting the news out in the media therefore, is vital. Unlike our opposition, which is mostly composed of wealthy corporations, we cannot afford costly ad campaigns, and thus have to rely on getting free 'advertising' through media coverage. We will do just about anything to get the word out, even to the point of using 'shock tactics' because we have learned from past experience that the media, sadly, thrives on such shenanigans.

If I can help call attention to the animals’ side of the story in a 'naked' protest, that's a choice I’ll gladly make. We hope that you will consider supporting PETA’s efforts to end animal suffering.


It was an informative and professional letter, and I appreciate that they took the time to send it to me. It does, however, verify a few things concerning PETA and their marketing. Mainly, that they participate in shock tactics and generating confrontational images because it works and gets people talking. Furthermore, they're happy with the press attention they receive, and will do whatever is necessary to gain more.

I honestly can't argue with that. It got me talking, didn't it? At the very least, I'm glad that they actually admitted to doing what they do for the media exposure, and not as much for the intended audience. It still doesn't make sense to me from a marketing standpoint (the audience is more important than the media; regardless of all the exposure you get from these campaigns), but they were straight with me, and I appreciate that.

This was the e-mail that I wrote back to PETA shortly thereafter:

First off, thank you so much for taking the time to write me; I greatly appreciate it. I also want to thank you for explaining and defending the ad campaigns and methods used by PETA to get the word out concerning animal abuse and cruelty.

As mentioned in my interview, I've been a vegetarian and strong supporter of animal rights for many years now. The main point I was trying to make in the interview was that certain shock tactics, while attracting of a large audience, also have the polarizing power to turn like-minded people off to the message. I understand that the main goal is to be seen and heard by as many people as possible with the limited funds raised by PETA, however, certain theatrics tend to distort the overall message at times. When I said "I support their message, but I believe that their marketing is incorrect," that was specifically what I was referring to.

I, myself have brainstormed many ways to positively, intelligently and unabashedly get the word out about the detriment to our planet and bodies that a meat-fueled lifestyle entails. I know it's a difficult path, as ignorance and apathy cannot be easily reversed through a poster or commercial. Conclusively, I think that any group that makes it their goal to educate citizens on the multiple positive values of a meatless lifestyle is doing a service to our nation, polarizing ad campaigns or otherwise.

With that in mind, please accept my $25 donation to PETA (I just donated online), with my best wishes of further success to your organization.

Thanks again for taking the time to contact me,

-Ryan J. Zeinert

I believe I did the right thing. I stood my ground (still do), but made a point to recognize the work that these people do behind the imagery and struggle for media attention. I also wanted to subtly make the point that by reasoning with people on the topics at hand (ie: me), you could change the minds of those that you're overlooking with your dragnet publicity tactics. Nude protesters in a cage didn't change my mind, but personality, honesty and logic did the job just fine.

Or maybe, just maybe, it shows that I'll do anything I can to be voted the Sexiest Vegetarian in Wisconsin for 2008.

Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day.