Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Politics vs. Prostitution

In honor of the coming release of the iPhone 4S (and yesterday's mess-up of this post), I am reposting something I wrote on, There's a Blog for That, a blog about life with my iPhone.

It is my belief that one of the iPhone's best features is also one of its worst. Autocorrect. On the website/pop-culture-phenomenon, "Texts From Last Night," a fellow iPhone user poignantly identifies the issue: "Seriously, iPhone. Stop autocorrecting all my f*cks into ducks. You're making all my strong worded texts look harmless and adorable." While the feature can be immensely helpful to speed-texters, it is also responsible for such catastrophes as, "OMG. I just locked my jews in the car again" (damnyouautocorrect.com) and "that personal trainer licked my butt!" According to CNN.com, "the iPhone's auto-correct function turns 'heard about garys internship at the whitehouse?' to 'heard about farts internship at the whorehouse?'" Even worse, what would Gary's friends at the whorehouse think if they read in a text that he'd gotten a new job at the White House??

A new website, damnyouautocorrect.com, allows victims of autoincorrect to send in pictures of their phones' "misfixes" for everyone to enjoy. As more and more of my text messages are butchered everyday, I can't help but wonder if and how Apple will address this problem. Is there a way to make our phones understand us better? And is autocorrect the future of typing for all keyboards? The iPad also autocorrects users' typos; maybe it's just a matter of time before technology completely dictates our usage of intentionally misspelled wordz and phonetically-written catchphrases (ie. "baaahahaha" or "oh GAWD"). I am a frequent user of "nize" and "srzly" and would very much like to keep my freedom of expression.

Clearly Apple's autocorrect function can do some damage if one presses "send" before he proofreads an autocorrected text to his boss. On the other hand, it also provides us with a good laugh now and again, so perhaps the positives outweigh theneglig├ęs. I mean negatives.

I'm sure you have all experienced some quality autocorrect moments and I'd love to hear about them!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What's So Wrong with Advertising?

As an aspiring copywriter with a BA in Advertising/Marketing Communications, I often notice people complaining about advertising.  They say the messages are too invasive, too frequent and, my favorite, they make you want things you don't need.

If advertising is that powerful, how come it doesn’t work to stop people smoking, make them eat 5 fruit/veg a day, stop binge drinking etc.  Despite the Central Office of Intelligence producing hundreds of high profile public information campaigns, spending millions on advertising for over 60 years, it has not managed to readily alter public behavior.  -greenbanana.wordpress.com

Of course, it's much easier to make a shiny new car look appealing than to make sobriety a fad.  But the general idea holds water.  Now, I'm not here to argue the value of advertising.  Wait, yes I am.  But I'm not going to push the idea upon my readers that advertising is flawless and something to be praised.  (Though I think some ads are!)  But let me ask you this: Do you buy things?  There you go.  Without advertising, we wouldn't be aware of a product's USP, or unique selling proposition.  We wouldn't know what makes Skechers Shape-Ups different from Nike Airs, and therefore would not have those toned bums and thighs.  Catch my drift?

Let's talk about brand loyalty.  Earlier this month, Brand Keys released a list of the top loyalty leaders.  Topping the list is Amazon, followed closely by Apple's iPhone.  I've never heard anyone complain about Amazon's service.  In fact, I frequently use the online retailer.  I'm also an iPhone user, so you can see where I'm going with this.  People wouldn't buy these things, wouldn't be so loyal to these brands if they were bad.  Yes, iPhone ads make people want iPhones.  But the advertisers aren't lying, the phone really does have tons of cool features.  Do those people who think advertising is "evil" think the countless benefits of having Apple's smartphone should be hidden from consumers?  That's right, consumers.  Like it or not, you are a consumer.  Personally, I don't see what's not to like.  Since the beginning of human existence, people have bartered and traded for goods and services.  It's natural.  Get over it, people.

My friend, Alex, brought up a good point about advertising in schools.  I looked into it, and it turns out it's becoming a more and more popular way to generate funding for school programs, and even to keep teachers employed in this tough economy.  And it's true, school bus ads alone can generate hundreds of thousands of dollars for a given school.  But those are ads on the outside of busses, while children are inside.  Advertisements strewn about the hallways of a middle school might be a different story.  Critics say children, who are impressionable by nature, should not be bombarded by advertisements in school.  Blogger, "Jaded Scribe," responds to this criticism by insisting, "Instead of trying to squash children's exposure to advertisements, parents should make sure the ads aren't their only source of information."  This is indeed what parents must do because, try as they may, nobody can eliminate advertising's presence.  Even though children hold no purchase power, you'd be hard pressed to find a parent who hasn't given in to his child's demands at least once.  I'd say advertisements in schools have definite benefits, raising money for programs that would otherwise become obsolete.  But you can be sure I won't stand for my child whining at me daily, begging for Twinkies because he sees them on his locker everyday.  Maybe we should get on board with bus ads and keep the Hostess banners out of gymnasiums.

It looks like Disney and other companies are getting a head start and trying to hook us from birth!  Is this something we should be afraid of?  Or should we just say "Hakuna Matata?"

My final point was brought up to me by my friend, Will.  He says:

The fact that America is the only developed country where prescription medicines can legally be advertised [bothers me]. You wonder why this country is f****d, it's because people are told day in and day out that they're depressed, or have restless leg syndrome.

I agree with Will.  It is messed up.  

A new study by researchers at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology looks at the effect of direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising on spending for prescription drugs. The study found that, on average, a 10% increase in DTC advertising of drugs within a therapeutic drug class resulted in a 1% increase in sales of the drugs in that class.

Applying this result to the 25 largest drug classes in 2000, the study found that every $1 the pharmaceutical industry spent on DTC advertising in that year yielded an additional $4.20 in drug sales. DTC advertising was responsible for 12% of the increase in prescription drugs sales, or an additional $2.6 billion, in 2000. DTC advertising did not appear to affect the relative market share of individual drugs within their drug class.  

You know what?  I don't think I want to touch this one.

Let's hear what you readers have to say.  Hope this gave you some insight into a topic about which I am quite passionate!

Monday, September 26, 2011

One of Those Things That Happened When I Was 8

Let's hear it: What is the best thing you've ever gotten grounded for?

This is the "Question of the Day" I've come up with for my internship.  I'm going to ask everyone at work about the "best" reason they've ever been grounded.  Want to hear mine?  I thought you might.

Let's back up, ohh, 15 years to when I was 8.  (I'm not really sure when this took place, but 8 is the age I always say I was when something happened before I could really pinpoint a date.  Suffice it to say, I did a lot when I was 8.)  My friend Hillary came over and we were playing upstairs in my room.  I'm not sure whose idea it was; she was a couple years older than I, but I've been known to be an instigator if you can believe it.  All I can say is which ever one of us came up with it was clearly in a stupid phase of her life.

The idea was simple: Tie everything we could find -- socks, bandanas, a Foxtail (remember those?) and more socks -- together; tie that "rope" to something in my room; climb down.  Climb down from my bedroom window.  On the second story.  Like I said, clearly stupid.  It was probably Hillary's idea.

Well, we got as far as about 4 feet of completed rope before my mom walked in and shut down the entire operation.  I was grounded, I'm sure Hillary's mom was notified, and I can't remember hanging out with her again.  (The only other time I remember being alone with Hillary, she put Gak [remember Gak?] down my favorite dress and ruined it.  Looks like my mom was right in cutting those ties.)

So, please, let's hear your story!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dream On

"Dreams are the royal road to the unconscious." -Sigmund Freud

I dream a lot.  People constantly tell me I have weird dreams, but I am convinced that their dreams are likely just as weird and they just don't remember them.  My dreams range from lucid and plausible to completely bizarre, as I'm sure yours do.  But no matter what's going on in my subconscious or yours, we are usually lost in the moment.

I've heard about a way to find out if you're dreaming, to harness your subconscious and control it throughout the rest of your dream.  You must find (or manifest, I suppose) a light switch and flip it.  If the light doesn't go on, you're dreaming.  (Or you need to change the light bulb.  Come to think of it, this advice could really send someone into an Inception-type dilemma if his light bulb is actually burnt out in waking life...)

Recurring dreams or nightmares are pretty common, I think.  Personally, I have three dream themes that plague me quite frequently.  First of all, there are the alligator dreams.  Ever since my grandparents lived on an alligator-infested lagoon in Hilton Head, these vicious swamp-dwellers have been my biggest fear.  And going to a lake-side school in Florida didn't help my paranoia.  Alligators turn my dreams into nightmares at least once a month, give or take.  Scary stuff.  Then we have the nightmare that I forget all my lines in "Kiss Me, Kate," the musical in which I had a leading role senior year of high school.  It's always the same thing: I'm waiting in the wings to go on stage and my mind goes completely blank.  I can't remember one single line!  I look around frantically for a script, but not one appears, so I'm forced to walk on stage and completely humiliate myself and ruin the show.  According to my mom, these dreams never go away.  She still has dreams about forgetting her lines in high school shows.  That gives me a lot to look forward to.  Finally, I have dreams that something goes horribly wrong while I'm babysitting.  Most recently, 6 year old Ellie was driving her two sisters and myself around in her mother's Suburban while the baby I forgot to bring along was at home in who knows what kind of peril.  A few nights later she was smoking a cigarette.  Having responsibility for four children on a regular basis seems to have taken a toll on me.  I can only imagine how my nights will go when I have my own kids.  Oh wait, I won't have time to dream.  I'll be up all night.

To my mom, every single dream is "the dream of unpreparedness."  I can understand how the forgetting-my-lines thing means I might be unprepared, but she seriously says it about every dream.  So I go elsewhere for my dream interpretation.  Dream Moods is a website where one can search or look through a list of terms to find out what his or her dream means.  I commonly look up last night's dreams, and let me tell you, you'd be surprised how often they make perfect sense.  I once dealt with having the same nightmare every night for a couple weeks.  As soon as I looked it up and found out what it meant, I stopped having it.

I really do agree with Freud, I think dreams most certainly mean something.  But, as he said, "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Overcoming Addiction

Happy Tuesday, readers!  I want to talk about something serious today.  Addiction.  Addiction is a real problem that should not be underestimated.  People talk about having "addictive personalities," and according to Wikipedia, that's actually a real problem.  So is thinking Wikipedia is a viable source.  I don't want to make excuses, but I fear I am a person suffering from an addictive personality.  From a very young age I've had problems getting hooked on things and feeling the need to get my fix.  But it's time to acknowledge my faults and share with you the top 10 addictions I have (sort of) overcome.  Brace yourselves.

The Top 10 Addictions I Have (Sort of) Overcome
10. Free Willy.  I only wish I kept my letter from President Clinton responding to my inquiry about what he's doing to save the whales.
9. Titanic.  If you were in Mr. Hagan's 4th grade class with me, you might remember my sick addiction to all things Titanic.  True, plenty of girls went through the same thing, but I'd like to know how many of them played the two video cassette tapes until the picture became fuzzy and jumpy.  Fun fact: Last week when I was suffering from insomnia I sang the entire Titanic soundtrack in my head.
8. Coldstone.  This habit kicked in during my sophomore year in high school when the national ice cream chain opened a store near my house.  I went almost - okay, literally everyday and got a "Like It" sized scoop of coffee ice cream with Heath Bar mixed in.  Thank God I got over that phase because if I was dealing with that addiction as a 23 year old I would be 450 lbs.  Thank you to my family and friends for the support you gave me to overcome this one.
7. Nutella.  Ever walk into your dorm building to find an 18 year old girl covered in Nutella with her hand stuck in the jar?  Sorry for that, guys.
6. Tuna sandwiches.  (I'm sensing a pattern here...)  You know what?  I'm still addicted to tuna sandwiches and I don't even care if you think it stinks or if you think I'm going to get mercury poisoning.  I like them. Deal.
5. Quick Trip breakfast sandwiches.  I know, this one's really shameful.  I had gone an entire 23 years without having a single sausage, egg and cheese biscuit from anywhere.  Then, one fateful morning I was peer pressured into trying one.  What they say is right, you know.  Just one time can get you hooked.  I still struggle with this one every time I pass a QT before 11:30am.
4. Facebook.  Duh.
3. Nacho Mama's.  I think when you overcome an addiction to alcohol or drugs you're not supposed to ever drink or do drugs again.  Well I must be pretty strong because I went from hitting the Nacho Mama's drive-thru bi or tri-weekly to a couple times a month.  It takes a lot of willpower to resist those beany and cheesy nachos, but I'm getting stronger everyday.
2. Domino's Chicken Kickers.  During my first year of college I was dependent on these little nuggets of joy.  Some of you might remember the great Kicker Fit of 2007... I try not to think about it.  But how could you blame me when Domino's was on our meal plan??  Once again I am glad I overcame this addiction because a 23 year old eating pizza and Chicken Kickers every single night - yes, it got that extreme - is just embarrassing.
1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  Did I watch this movie every single day when I was 14?  Yes.  Three times a day?  Yes.  Did it pay off because I met Daniel Radcliffe, the love of my teenage life?  You bet.  No shame.

I'd like to thank everyone who supported me through these tough times.  I could never have overcome any of my addictions without you.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Grace Kelly and the West Virginia Pill-Snorters

This summer I enjoyed expanding my cinematic horizons.  I went on a Hitchcock kick and also found my new (and first) favorite documentary.  Not only do I feel more culturally enriched, I also now know the Boone County mating call.

Grace Kelly is the picture of class.  Watching her in "Dial 'M' for Murder" and "Rear Window" was a treat and a trip back in time.  I think it's safe to say her gracefulness (how aptly she was named), charm and talent are incomparable to any other film star in history.  (Though I think we will all agree that Lindsay Lohan comes in a close second.)

I absolutely loved "Dial 'M' for Murder."  With its perfectly constructed plot and unforeseen twists, this murder mystery was a perfect introduction to Hitchcock's repertoire and my favorite of the bunch so far.  When it came time for my second Hitchcock film, my expectations were pretty high.  The back of the "Rear Window" DVD case claimed it had one of the most unexpected endings in film history.  Really??  Because it seemed to me that what happened in the end was exactly what the main characters said would happen throughout the entire movie.  Don't worry, this is no more of a spoiler than the film itself is.  Despite some disappointment in the ending, however, I did enjoy "Rear Window."  Once again, Grace Kelly was a marvel to watch.

Then I had to get into Hitchcock's darker collection of films.  "Psycho" and "The Birds" are two of the most talked about movies out there, so it was about time I saw them.  I couldn't help thinking Norman Bates, the creepy hotel owner in "Psycho," was really handsome.  Even when he was cleaning up after the famous shower scene ("REE REE REE REE!"), covering up a murder, I found myself very attracted to him.  (Does this say something about me?  Should I be worried?)  A Facebook friend of mine reminded me of an episode of one of my favorite shows, "How I Met Your Mother," in which Barney points out the direct correlation between someone's hotness and their craziness.  His explanation can be seen here.  So, without spoiling the ending of "Psycho," I'll just say that it seems Barney was right.  Because Norman Bates is HOT.

"The Birds" met my expectations of both creepiness and quality of special effects.  If you've seen it, you know what I mean about the special effects.  Very 1963.  I recommend it to everyone who has ever wondered just how much we really know about birds and whether they can be trusted.  For me, it cleared up the suspicions I've had for a very long time.

NOW!  Blog readers!  I am about to introduce you to a great work of documentary film-making: "The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia."  Produced by Johnny Knoxville and the same people who made "Jackass," TWaWWoWV is the story of what happens during a year in the life of the White family in Boone County, WV.  From fighting to snorting painkillers to creating an absurd scene in the Taco Bell drive-thru, this family is the epitome of the American Dream.  That is, if the American Dream is to live off welfare, sleep with your cousin's husband and lose custody of your newborn baby when the hospital finds drugs in her system.  Hey, for some people that's probably not too far off!  At least the welfare part.

Y'all wanna hear the Boone County mating call?

While watching this fantastic documentary, I couldn't help comparing Mamie White, "the biggest, the baddest and the meanest of all the White family," to Grace Kelly.  Can't you see the similarities?

So, dear readers, to sum up my summer of movie-watching, I'll say that Alfred Hitchcock and Johnny Knoxville both know how to make damn good films.  I should suggest those with weak stomachs avoid the West Virginia Whites, but heck, give it a try.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Top Ten Perks of Being an Unpaid Intern

Ladies and gents, I'm back!  That's right, Frankly Paige is up and running again.

To kick off my return to the world of web logging, I'm going to present to you my top 10 perks of being an unpaid intern.  As my faithful followers know, I had a three-month-long internship with an advertising agency called King & Tuke in London last summer.  Now I have another internship on The Hill in none other than my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri.  This internship is at another ad agency called McGowan Crain.  As it's only day three, my duties expand no further than writing the odd headline and observing the way things work around here.  But I have no complaints.  So, here it is, folks:

The Top 10 Perks of Being an Unpaid Intern
10. Learning to make the perfect cup of coffee
9. Feeling insanely excited when your work is selected to be shown to a client
8. Being able to tell people, "I work at ______" just like someone with a real job
7. Discovering YouTube videos before anyone else
6. Figuring out what makes a company work
5. Not being as stressed as everyone around you
4. Learning the ropes of the job you want "when you grow up"
3. Pretending you're still in college because you don't have a salary
2. Getting the motivation to actually find a paying job
1. Not paying income tax

Stay tuned!