Four random musings

by Brian Keaney

Clockwise from bottom-right: Frye, Brandon, Jo...
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Zack Attack: A couple weeks ago I was in Indiana, and went to dinner at a nice place with waiters and waitresses in Cubs jerseys.  It was literally within walking distance of the homes of the Pacers and Colts, but apparently they were Chicago baseball fans there.  Anyway, I made a reference to Zack Morris to our college aged waiter, and was surprised when he knew what I was talking about.  I thought I was going to age myself there, but he even knew who Kelly Kapowski was.  (Fun fact: in their first incarnation Zack and the gang lived in Indy, but were magically transported, school and all, to California in season two.)

Yesterday I was blown away to realize that none other than Punky Brewster once had a crush on Zack, before every other girl in America did, before Saved By The Bell, before Good Morning, Miss Bliss, before there even was a Zach Morris.  It isn’t often that you can sum up a large part of your childhood in a few minutes, but thanks to the magic of YouTube I can now come pretty close.  When I first saw this I thought Margot was played by Kirsten Dunst, which would have brought me right through high school and beyond- she made a great MJ – but no such luck.

If you have to ask how much it costs…: I listen to two Wall Street Journal podcasts on a regular basis, one on personal finance and one on small business.  One of their advertisers is Paul Fredrick, a company I’ve never heard of before.  They have been advertising dress shirts for $19.95, and I thought that was a pretty good deal.  I need a couple new shirts, so I figured that if the WSJ crowd is their target audience, I would probably do alright buying one at that price sight unseen.

I visited the website advertised in the podcast with the explicit URL of  Not really leaving much to the imagination there, are they?  Upon arriving, I see a photo of a shirt and in big letters “Special Introductory Price $19.95.”  Pretty straightforward, methinks, and so I pick out my size and complete the order.

It eventually asks for the promotional code given in the ad, and I put it in, thinking I’ll get free shipping or something.  Not so much.  I got charged $19.95 for the shirt, plus $5 for shipping.  It’s still a good price for what I’m hoping will be a nice shirt, but what gives?  What did the promo code do for me?  Apparently, even though the URL and the banner say the shirt is $19.95, without the code they would charge $44.50.  Not quite kosher, if you ask me.

I will say this for them, though.  I emailed inquiring what the deal was at 10pm on a Tuesday, and had a response within 20 minutes.  Their ad practices might be a little deceptive, but their customer service is exceptional.

If you have to ask Part II: The only television show I watch with any regularity is Morning Joe on MSNBC while I get ready in the morning.  Joe Scarborough is a thoughtful conservative, I like the format, and he usually has some pretty good guests.  Joseph A. Banks regularly advertises, and with the steep discounts and sales they are constantly offering I have to ask myself two things.  First, just how bad is business for them?  They are clearly desperate to get people in the doors.  Secondly, how big is their markup?  When they can offer a buy-one-get-two-free deal and still make money, you know the profit margin has to be huge.

Online distractions: I’ve already admitted that Texts From Last Night is a guilty little pleasure of mine, but the site has been down more than up for the past couple days.  I’ve been compensating by visiting two other favorite distractions more instead.  Overheard In The Newsroom is almost as funny, but it isn’t updated nearly as often as TFLN.  It reminds me of why I usually like journalists, though.

I also like Barstool Sports.  The content is updated frequently enough to satisfy my ADD, its got enough vulgarity to keep me young, and it never fails to entertain. It’s designed for guys and is as chauvinistic as, say, Maxim, but it steers clear of outright misogyny of a site like My Life is Bro.  It’s also a lot more intellegent, though MLIB sets that bar pretty low, too low for me even.  MLIB is an example of a site great in concept, terrible in execution.

If Barstool only had someone on staff who knew how to write I’d be on a lot more.  I love the commentary, but the writing is terrible.  If they could improve it,  it would be a real smokeshow.

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