Taco Bell hires a bunch of Ronald McDonald’s to promote their breakfast menu

March 28, 2014

And after all that effort, I still won’t eat at Taco Bell.


Fathers pledge devotion to their daughters in unsettling ceremony? Some trends deserve all the criticism possible

March 28, 2014

From this Design Trend article (emphasis on poorly written sentence mine):

A new father-daughter chastity phenomenon is leeching across the United States.

“Purity balls” are similar to weddings, except the father marries his twelve-year-old daughter. The goal is to maintain the girl’s virginity until marriage.

During the ceremony, the fathers present their daughters with purity rings, and the duo become boyfriend and girlfriend, the Daily Mail reported.

“You keep this on your finger and as of this point you are married to the Lord and your father is your boyfriend,” the father says as he hands his daughter the ring.

The girls then “silently commit to live pure lives before God through the symbol of laying down a white rose at the cross, before engaging in a wedding-type dance with their father.”

Having sex with, kissing or touching a man (other than their fathers) before marriage is strictly prohibited.

Read on

Via Cynical C

Seriously, spam hit a new low

March 14, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-03-14 at 11.12.21 AM

In my email mailbox, I get some amazing spam. But this one takes the cake. From a supposed funeral home called Hubbell (Simply Compassionate), they write:

We would like to express our deepest sorrow for the untimely death of your beloved
friend and inform you about the life service celebration that will take place at
Hubbell Funeral Home on March 13, 2014 at 2:00 p.m.

Please follow this link to get funeral invitation.
Please be there to honor the memory of your friend with her closest people.

Our best wishes and prayers,
Nikhil Grimes,
Funeral home assistant

Seriously, I almost responded, because I needed to know what friend of mine died. 


How to make it in photography: sell overpriced bullshit to photographers

March 10, 2014

Have you heard?

fStoppers is holding an amazing photography workshop and conference at the end of May. Seriously. This is an event not to miss.

The greatest of the great will be there. Aaron Nace. Dixie Dixon. John Keatley. Mark Wallace. Michael Grecco. Mike Kelley. Peter Hurley, to name a few. They’ll be there to teach you the intimate and intricate details of photography that you, yes you, can integrate into your workflow, your inspiration, your perspective and your idea set.

It’s an opportunity to expand your knowledge while visiting an exotic location.

Oh. Did I forget to mention that the workshops are all to take place in Nassau, Bahamas?

Yeah, you’ll get to learn from these greats in paradise.

How much does it cost? You ask bright eyes and bushy tailed.

Well, you gotta get there. So there’s airfare. And per night at the selected hotels is generally $200/night. A little less at the budget hotel and a little more at the other.

You’ll be in resortland, so add in over-priced food to your budget.

Oh, and you’ll be in the fucking Bahamas, so if you’ve got kids, a spouse or a girlfriend or boyfriend (or both), you have to take them. Because who tells their spouse that they’re going to an important photography conference in the Bahamas, and I gotta do it alone.

How much is the conference? You ask with furrowed brow. 

That’s a good question. The menu for classes is a la cart. So a two-day seminar with Aaron Nace on how to plan your  dream photo shoot is $1500. One day to learn to light the Keatley way will set you back $750. Four-hours learning to shoot interiors like Mike Kelley, a measly $400.

Do the rough math for Tina and I to go — and for just me to attend workshops — add up airfare, miscellaneous travel expenses (cabs, trains, dog sitters, a beer at O’Hare, an Egg McMuffin in transit), accommodations, overpriced resort food, and a menu of outrageously priced photography workshops packing your days while you’re visiting fucking paradise … so now you gotta stay three or four extra days to soak up the sun and see the sights … I’m guestimating dropping between $12,000 and $15,000.

Let’s do some more math.

How many photographers do you know who do photography full time?

I do. That’s one.

I recently attended a bar powwow that my buddy Bill organized for photographers. Out of the ten photographers in attendance, I think three of us were full time. Three.

The average income of a photographer, I’ve heard is around $50k. On this site, it’s $25,000.

So let’s pretend that the average income for photography is around $35,000. Our income happens to be on a higher end of the spectrum, but we’ve been doing it for a while.

I personally don’t have $12,000 to $15,000 to spend, so I’d have to use credit or not go. If I depleted $12k to $15k, that’s much more than my average budget for gear, replacement gear, expenses, gas, mortgage, shoes, food for Talulah, a meal or two, other travel, other expenses.

Part of my point, though, is that more photographers are hobbyests and part-timers than full-timers. And what’s more attractive than spending five to ten days blowing hard earned dough in Nassau?

The target for a gig like this are photographers who are yet to make it. So they are probably on the low-end of that income level or they’re working a full-time job hoping to break into photography full time.

And what’s going to set a part-time photographer back from going full time more than blowing a shit-ton of cash on a frivolous vacation/workshop trip to goddamn Bahamas, where you’ll be sitting around watching Aaron Nace remind you a thousand times a second why you suck and he’s a genius.

This effort is literally the most egregious wannabe-photographers ripoff I’ve seen in a long, long … long time.

There’s so much shit, and I mean horse shit, marketed toward photographers, a herd of creative people nearly going extinct in the most rapidly changing market that it’s faced since Mathew Brady published images of dead soldiers during the Civil War and blew up how awful war is.

What fStoppers and all the photographers at the workshops are doing is a grift. They’re hustling a crapload of hopeful photographers into a den of thievery.

This workshop should be in a place and in a pricepoint that makes more financial sense for the market that they are targeting. As it is, they are handicapping the hopeful, pie-in-the-sky next generation by sucking their wallets/accounts/credit dry as an Arizona desert.

Because, as it seems, the way to make it in the photography world … is to literally sell hope and other garbage to sanguine photographers.

Yes. This means I’m not going. And I’m sure fStoppers and the rest could give two shits if a guy like me was there.

But if you are going, consider yourself hustled. I’m sure you’ll learn a lot. A ton, really. If the cost isn’t prohibitive to you, good for you.

I hope what you learn turns that $15,000 into a bottomless trough of clients with fat photography accounts and endless photographic and creative pleasure.

My recommendation is go to Nassau. Skip the workshops and buy every single one of Aaron Nace’s online videos.

You’ll save a ton, learn a lot and get a better tan.

D’uh … it’s called COCKpit for a reason

March 6, 2014


If you’re on the side of the fence that think gender equality is a load of shit, I found your best friend.

Napkin note from a passenger that flew WestJet reads:

To Capt./Westjet, The cockpit of airliner is not place for a woman. A woman being a mother is the most honor. Not as “captain”. We’re short mothers, not [illegible]. Sorry no P.C. P.S. I wish WestJet could tell me a fair lady is at the helm, so I can book another flight!”

Take that WestJet!

Via Cynical C

It’s official: IKEA is hell on Earth

January 23, 2014




Yesterday, Tina and I ventured out to the Schaumburg area to do corporate head shots.

Schaumburg is a near-Chicago suburb that features such amazing attractions as:

  • Our client …
  • A Wal-mart, Costco and a large mall called Woodfield …
  • And the closest thing we’re all going to get to hell … otherwise known as IKEA.

And just like hell, IKEA is where all people are attracted to, because it’s fun to be bad, but that hellish IKEA sucks the life out of you and you may never leave once you enter. It’s never ending. And it’s a Bermuda Triangle of exit signs with no exits.

Tina and I have been discussing remodeling my home office, which is our second bedroom at our two bedroom condo here in Uptown, Chicago. We’d like to do it on a budget, so IKEA could be a decent solution.


Maybe not. 

Tina’s idea was to use IKEA as the solution for the things we’d like to add to the space, namely some kind of pullout couch, so that guests don’t have to sleep on an air mattress when they visit, and also make the room a little more comfortable when she works with me. When Tina works with me, she pulls a chair or two from our dining room, and she always complains that it kills her back.

ikea-6Recently, Tina visited IKEA and found a sleeper sofa couch thing, named Friheten, corner sofa bed with chaise. On first glance, the Friheten seems like a good solution. It’s somewhat comfortable. It would fit in my office. It turns into a comfortable looking bed.

Done and done.

But after a third look, the bed would be perfect for one person, but a big pain in the ass for two. If two guests slept on it, one person would be forced to schooch out, shimmy maybe, off the foot of the bed, should they need to pee in the middle of the night.

IKEA Products are THE Shit. 

Not to mention, the couch is IKEA. And after a year, the chaise arm will be lying off the side of the couch. The pillows will be ripped open and stuffing falling out. In two years, the thing will be a pile of saw dust and nails, which is somewhat less comfortable than Tina sitting on our dining room chairs.

IKEA products are a ticking time bomb of worthlessness that falls apart minute by minute.

My parents instilled in me many disciplines and an amazing education. My dad worked as a furniture designer and has been in the furniture industry his entire career. If anything, IKEA is the exact antithesis of quality, and my dad instilled that in me. When I walk through a place like IKEA, and I touch the furniture, open a cupboard or close a drawer, I get nausea like Alex in the final scenes of A Clockwork Orange.

At one point, we passed two IKEA employees setting up a vignette area, and I noticed how much trouble they were having with a shelf. “The irony,” I thought. Even the employees struggle to put IKEA shit together.

And that’s what it is. Shit.

When we arrived in the IKEA parking lot, we headed to the food area to grab a bite. You can’t shop IKEA with an empty stomach. While we waited for Tina’s panini to toast, a creepy old man hit on Tina until I walked over with my oversized tray with a plated chicken wrap on top. He explained to her that this was the third time he’d been to IKEA in two weeks.

“On purpose?” I asked.

He laughed and said, “Yes.”

We sat our tray down on a table near another table with an elderly couple. The woman was wearing a faded pink, one-peice, snow suit with a purple nit hat. Tina and I rolled our eyes. After stomaching a the nastiest chicken wrap ever and Tina’s order of a panini, we cruised off onto the floor to SHOP!

The food court is on floor three, so we descended to two to find the couch we were looking for. We walked all of floor two, which didn’t include the items we were shopping for. Tina recently went to another IKEA which was setup a bit differently. So we escalated back up to floor 3. We found the couch and kicked its tires a little. Laid on it. Took some selfies.

I brought up my concern about sleeper number two getting the shaft. The bed was great for one person.

So off we went looking for a legitimate sleeper sofa. We found one, but it wasn’t setup, so we couldn’t test it fully. “Why wouldn’t IKEA setup the ONLY sofa bed on the floor?” I asked.

Then I remembered that it’s IKEA, and the army-sized manpower and resources are likely not available for the Sisyphean task of setting up something like a sofa bed.

Set a Time Limit

When we arrived at IKEA, as I was turning the key ignition to the off position, I told Tina, “You’ve only got an hour in here, and then we’re leaving.”

Tina check her watch, “That’s not a long time. We have to eat, too.”

“Then I suggest we get moving,” I said.

At around the one hour and fifteen minute mark, clearly past anyone’s time limit for spending time at IKEA, we were looking for the exit. You see, everyone has their IKEA limit, and mine is less than 5 minutes. Some people push longer. But EVERYONE has their IKEA limit.

There are many exit signs, but they are for emergency use. To actually get out, you need a compass, dropped bread crumbs, a drug sniffing dog, CIA-level clearance for information acquisition, and a hacked GPS to get past the patented IKEA GPS blocking technology.

Finally, I saw a glimmer of what appeared to be a path toward the escalators. But we had to pass through a small opening between the frames department and a kids accessories department. Tina led the way, only to be blocked by a woman with a child sitting in a shopping cart.

Tina approached with purpose and determination. “Excuse me, ma’am,” she said as she slowed to not hit her.

Tina had to stop. The woman surely heard her.

“EXCUSE ME, MA’AM!” Tina said as if the wait were a thousand hours and the woman was a slug.

The woman finally moved, pushing her cart clear enough for us to pass.

Tina clearly pissed the woman off, a woman who had clearly passed her IKEA limit, too, and as we were about 10 feet, I happened to look back to see the woman start opening her mouth to damn Tina. “Lady, you didn’t have to be so RUDE!!!” She called out.

Tina, amped up IKEA-induced adrenaline, shouted back, “I had to ask you TWO times to move out of the way!!!”

The other woman started to scream something in response and I said, “Nope! Nope! Just leave it alone! Don’t even worry about it. This is IKEA! This is IKEA!!!” It was as if to say, you are both possessed by demons and I am the only Jesus here strong enough to dispel the demons that have taken control of your tongues. Leave each other be. You were both possessed!

This Story is longer than Homer’s Odyssey!

You and I both want this story to end, but it didn’t.

Tina’s possession took control one more time and she decided she wanted to buy something at IKEA, so she chose a $0.99 hazelnut candy bar. We went to one line, and the cashier said, “This is a debit card only line, ma’am.”

“Yes,” I said, “Thanks.” I clearly had not heard what he said, just that he said something.

“This is a debit card only line,” he repeated.

“Yeah, yeah,” I shushed him with a wave of my hand.

“THIS is a debit card only line,” he said yet again.

A wave of IKEA-drenched confusion flushed from my brain. “Ohhhhhhhh … this is a debit card only line.”

So we had to go to the one fucking line that accepted cash … the longest line … for a $0.99 candy bar … at fucking IKEA.

While Tina waited in line, I noticed a grocery area and tried snapping a photo of two Zombie women conflated by a $10 bag of Swedish meatballs. Clearly, they were brainless, otherwise they wouldn’t be buying frozen meatballs from a goddamn “furniture” place.

We drove away, and as we drove, I noticed the temperature drop on our on-dashboard thermometer.

Says me as we sped away, “Clearly, IKEA is hell. It’s getting colder as we drive away.”











Lalochezia in action

January 13, 2014


Last night, I stayed home and worked on some photos while Tina spent our weekly visit with her brother and his partner by her lonesome.

When she got home, she called me in tears, because someone had parked in our alley and blocked much of the passageway into our parking area.

If you’ve seen our parking spot, you’ll know that it’s very difficult to park in when there’s no cars blocking.

There are six units in our building and we have neighbors who often park in our spot, something we don’t like, but can’t do much about.

We had no idea what asshole parked in our extra spot. So after Tina Austin Powered her way into our teeny spot, I grabbed a pad of paper and angrily wrote the above note and stuck it on this person’s car.

Late last night, we got an email from our neighbor who must have hosted the driver of this vehicle and he wrote:

A guest of mine received this rather nasty note on her car as it was parked out back somewhat blocking the lot entrance.  I’m assuming it was someone from our building as I don’t see why anyone else would care.   Had I realized she was parked like this I would have asked to her to move her car.  I wish someone would have called or stopped by or something to let me know.  So I apologize, but I really didn’t think it was necessary to referr to my friend as a gigantic asshole etc.  I would have hoped for a little understanding that with all the snow, parking is a bit challenging lately…

I may have brought a level of melodramatic assholery to the situation, but this indignation was well worth it. When you have to deal with my wife, in tears, trying to maneuver her way into our shitty spot, I get protective.

Did you know that Lalochezia is “The use of vulgar or foul language to relieve stress or pain.”

Well, now you do.

This, dear readers, was Lalochezia in action.

And despite that my neighbor is dumbfounded by its expression, how much do you wanna bet that no one parks like a douchebag outside our gate for a LONG time.

I almost became a Catholic over the holiday break

December 31, 2013

On our ride down to North Carolina, Tina took over driving for a few hours. I took the time to rest my eyes and catch up on social media.

On my Facebook feed, a young, Catholic girl posted an article that blew my mind. I mean. I’m dying to see how this current pope is going to change the current dismal perspective of Catholicism, but this particular article threw their efforts into overdrive.

Here’s the article if you want to read it.


And then the mind blowing began.

This in particular:

In a speech that shocked many, the Pope claimed “All religions are true, because they are true in the hearts of all those who believe in them. What other kind of truth is there? In the past, the church has been harsh on those it deemed morally wrong or sinful. Today, we no longer judge. Like a loving father, we never condemn our children. Our church is big enough for heterosexuals and homosexuals, for the pro-life and the pro-choice! For conservatives and liberals, even communists are welcome and have joined us. We all love and worship the same God.”

And later:

“God is changing and evolving as we are, For God lives in us and in our hearts. When we spread love and kindness in the world, we touch our own divinity and recognize it. The Bible is a beautiful holy book, but like all great and ancient works, some passages are outdated. Some even call for intolerance or judgement. The time has come to see these verses as later interpolations, contrary to the message of love and truth, which otherwise radiates through scripture. In accordance with our new understanding, we will begin to ordain women as cardinals, bishops and priests. In the future, it is my hope that we will have a woman pope one day. Let no door be closed to women that is open to men!”

The words in that article, this passage above included, would almost — ***ALMOST*** — cure me of disbelief.

This section was pure gold:

Through humility, soul searching, and prayerful contemplation we have gained a new understanding of certain dogmas. The church no longer believes in a literal hell where people suffer. This doctrine is incompatible with the infinite love of God. God is not a judge but a friend and a lover of humanity.

When I read most of the article to Tina, her response was, “Man, I’d consider becoming a Catholic again.”

That’s the rub.

The article is so well written and so ideal to what the church should do, but it gets too caught up in hoity toity, we’re right, they’re wrong bullshit.

It took three paragraphs before I said to myself, and Tina, “This is satire. We’ve been duped.”

So I looked further at the web site it was hosted on and sure enough, the site is satire.

Gold, though. Gold. Pure greatness.

Cheers to those folks at Diversity Chronicle. That was the closest I’ve been in a LONG time to consider even considering the consideration of a considerate thought about admiring the church.

And then you see stuff like this story (about how white American evangelicals reject science), and all that hope for the world is a flatulent balloon sound.

But then there’s the following, and my hopes are rejuvenated.

Let’s go back to the future!

December 31, 2013

Above is an acoustic guitar version of the Back to the Future theme. Back to the Future happens to be one of my guilty-feeling favorite movies of all time. If I catch it on a station, I will watch a good bit of it.

Tina and I got back from a Christmas trip to North Carolina a couple days ago. All in all, it was a good time.

There were a couple hiccups, and there was a moment that — had I heard a comment that was made — we would have left and driven home at around 9 p.m. at night.

I’m not sure how members of your own family can be so fucking cruel and completely oblivious to it.

I trust everyone here had a nice relaxing Christmas time, and you celebrated in the best way you know how.



The war on which political ideology is CRAZIER!!!

December 17, 2013

You may have heard of the War on Christmas that has been waging from the airwaves of FOX News for the last handful of years.

There is a War on Christmas, because FOX told us so.

What you may not know — but you probably do — is there is a War on which Political Ideology is CRAZIER!!! There’s no mistaking that this is a universally recognized war, stemming from the networks, both liberal and conservative.

If it weren’t for the networks, you’d know very little about this superfluous war with a shit-ton more casualties than Vietnam or WWI, II or Pol Pot’s genocidal tendencies.

The casualties aren’t typical blood and guts killings. It’s more or less the rift it drives between family members and friends. A bomb goes off on Twitter. Napalm is dropped on Facebook. All of these stupid fucking arms come from ideas that belong nowhere near your loved ones of oppositional views and vice versa.

I don’t watch the CNNs, the FOXes or the MSNBCs, because knowing people who do causes enough rift for the rest of us. Those “NEWS” organizations do more to wage war between otherwise reasonable people who usually get along than any other resource.

It’s time to turn all of them off. It’s time to unify. It’s time to live in something that resembles harmony again.

Stop feeding the frenzy that your political opposition is crazier than you are. Because when the news organizations are roped into any peaceful scenario, blood will be shed and heads will roll.

Otherwise, this war will not end and the casualties will continue to rise.



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