November 27, 2012

Moralretrolling (or Sorry Friends For the Social Experiment)

[I know I still haven't finished putting up the Halloween/wedding photos. In time you will all know the shocking truth. Detours and whatnot. It's not like I've even got to last year's "Best of 2011" music post, so whatevs.] 

Yesterday morning when I got up, I was alerted to some really awesome and hilarious trolling courtesy (cross-reference the Twitter, blog, and and Facebook pages for the complete saga). I've also been consuming quite a bit of media with trolling and double-crossing lately (Hitchock spy films, Trapped in the Closet, WWF, Borat, On Cinema Podcast) and was inspired to do some of my own. The target was those absolutely ridiculous Facebook reposts, mostly of the "something about privacy" sort that has been plaguing our news feeds over the past few days. This shit all happened already several months ago, but it must've been before Election Day when all of our memories were wiped.

Quite a few friends had been reposting this bullshit yet again, so I figured it was time to do something that would be hilarious to me for a while that we could go back and learn a lesson from then we all have a laugh together. Moral-retro-trolling-LOLing or something. Here's the original post:
In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, professional photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention). For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times.  
(Anyone reading this can copy this text and paste it on their Facebook Wall. This will place them under protection of copyright laws. By the present communiqué, I notify Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, disseminate, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The aforementioned prohibited actions also apply to employees, students, agents and/or any staff under Facebook's direction or control. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of my privacy is punished by law (UCC 1 1-308-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute).
Facebook is now an open capital entity. All members are recommended to publish a notice like this, or if you prefer, you may copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once, you will be tacitly allowing the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile status updates.
Something like that at least. Whatever it was it was clearly pointless bullshit that amounted to nothing. I then took that text and modified it so it said the exact opposite of the original message (and added in some things that would be dead giveaways as to its authenticity):

I tried to work in the Asian Dawn Movement from Hans Gruber's communique, but went for Looney Tunes instead. I immediately had second thoughts about posting it because another friend had just minutes before posted a very clear "Come on people, stop falling for this scam" plea. But I risked the nose-in-the-book penalty and hit "post."

Not too long after I posted my mess, I got a "like" from a former lawyer/current writer who I'm sure navigated my BS legalese. Then there was a response from someone that clearly understood my culture jamming with a Banksy joke and I retorted with another nod from the troll classic, Exit Through The Gift Shop. I figured the jig was up before it was ever down.

HOWEVER, I immediately spotted a couple reposts. I assumed they were ironic reposts, BUT THEY WEREN'T!

I prematurely gloated on Twitter that some were non-ironic posts, but soon realized that none were.   I then made the decision to stay in troll mode if anyone questioned me on it, because that's really the secret to successful performance art. Of course, when actual funny people do successful performance art, they aren't usually making their friends the victims.

My good friend with the dark squiggles did everything right (if it had been an actual reposting of the original bullshit text). He immediately called me out and directed me to, a skeptical website that had already debunked the legitimacy of the source material. I've long been a fan of the Snopes website and subscribe to the "Checking snopes before forwarding dumb emails" Facebook group. Since I regularly throw it in people's faces myself, I'm familiar with the popular retort "I don't trust Snopes. It's full of liberal bias" (SPOILER: it's not). I felt like such a ignorant superdouchebag repeating it. Half-wanting to get caught, I tried to draw hearsay-style attention to the Derpa Convention, but he stuck to his original guns and the argument fizzled into a into a Mr. Show skit.

Elsewhere, more of the right thing was happening, for the most part, despite my egotistical attempts to thwart it. 

Here I learned that people are immune to, or are at least aware of older social media scams, but are not necessarily ready to take a stand against newer ones as quickly. My trolling here again sticks out like a sore thumb on a jerk that could have been more productive in the anti-fraud movement instead of the chuckling-to-himself movement. To be honest, I feel pretty shitty just posting these exchanges, even with the blurred names, but there's a greater good somewhere here, right? And to my credit, I'm not actually lying in any of my responses. If you read between the lines, most of them amount "Go back and read between the lines."

This one was deleted not too long after someone figured out what was going on:

Finally, the text I rewrote was actually being read. And then we've got the admission that sometimes, we don't read what we're signing on to. I think it's safe to draw the conclusion that people, when they are tired or vulnerable, sometimes cling to things just because they seem like they mean well, even if they actually mean the opposite and serve to take advantage. It's a horrible thing, but it happens all the time with get rich quick schemes and cold call scams. In comparison, a simple repost may seem like a harmless piece of nothing, but blind trust is a gateway drug to getting totally fucked with.

And that person totally fucking with you, and totally feeling troll's remorse at this point, may not be me next time.

Blue Squiggles was the one that reposted my text in that example, but Purple Squiggles called him out on it, thinking the text was about protecting copyright. So I jumped in to ask stupid questions and escalated the situation using Godwin's Law of Nazi Analogies as soon as I had the opportunity. Just when I thought the conversation had hit a Ludicrous enough Speed to expose my trolling, Purple Squiggles lit up my chat window. And yes, she again made great points about the futility of trying to protect copyright on publicly-traded social media websites, but still didn't actually read the text that was posted. To her credit, she did note the sarcasm in my growing electioneering, but I admitted nothing.

A few degrees of separation away was someone that did get it:

That sort of made up for my regret. The experiment dried up pretty quickly after that (though I get to play dumb for my soon-to-be brother-in-law and accuse Gizmodo of being in bed with Facebook). On the whole, only a small handful people took the bait which means either:
  1. people read it, got it, and didn't respond
  2. people saw the first few words, dismissed it, and didn't respond 
  3. people already don't read anything I post and/or have my posts hidden
Assuming that the 2 and 3 are the more likely scenarios, then I've accomplished very little more other than squeezing out a blog entry, and possibly making myself look like The RoBeast Who Cried Wolf. It's also going to mean that people probably aren't going to see this post either and realize that I was joking the whole time.

I did learn that even skeptical people are guilty of not fully examining their materials. People are ready to jump all over each other for reposting unread nonsensical text, but then end up not reading the instructions to their own Jump to Conclusions Mat. On one hand, I've never seen such an immediate response from the Facebook masses rushing to invoke the Snopes Defense before. But it's also a bit sad that with all the daily bullshit we see on there, people are only well-mobilized against a low-scale Facebook scam. It's a start I guess.

Well, thank you for participating in my half-baked experiment, willingly or otherwise, and I'm sorry for screwing with you. I did my best to cover up everyone's names other than my own. If I missed any, let me know. If you still don't believe I was trolling the whole time, then I'm just going to assume you're trolling. 

November 25, 2012





If this doesn't look fishy to you, then you're not from the Jersey Shore. This sardine can I found for sale at Duane Reade prominently features/exploits a famous New Jersey Shore site--the Barnegat Lighthouse. This towering icon overlooks the Barnegat Inlet, which links the Atlantic Ocean to the Barnegat Bay.

Another imposing phallic symbol of the Barnegat Bay, one that claims the Western horizon, is the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station. I assume Ohio and Thailand do not dispatch their sardine fleets to NJ, but I always remember seeing dozens of fisherman camped out on small Rt. 9 bridge over an estuary that leads to the OC, the oldest active power plant in the US. This always seemed insane to me (three-eyed fish, y'know?), but maybe they were on to something... 

So, if you ever see this for sale (it's probably easiest to find inside this 25-mile radius), pick it up with pride:

November 21, 2012




Obviously, this isn't illegal, but at what point does it qualify as deceptive? I don't speak this language, but it must boil down to "you can put anything on your packaging as long as you put the truth on there somewhere too." Seems shitty to me.

Am I really worried people are going to think something that says NY OJ is orange juice made in New York oranges? I don't people realize Poland Spring is actually water from Maine and that Häagen Dazs is Danish jibberish made up by a Polish guy in New York? And does this all diminish the credibility of actual OJ made in New York or water from Poland? I should probably be more concerned about the calcium hydroxide (great for concrete and OJ!) but here I am, in NY, being pandered to by Tropicana.
More like CheapPopicana. 

November 8, 2012

Halloween Wrap-Up Pt. 2

My second Halloween costume was technically my wedding tuxedo, but at the same time, my wedding tuxedo was technically a costume. 

I'm not a fan of formal wear, so when I realized I was going to have to wear a tuxedo for my wedding, I wanted to do something that I could have fun with. And it would have to work for both our September ceremony and our Halloween reception.

My first idea was to try to piece together a suit that would mimic Voltron's five different lion colors. After all, Votron was the costume I was wearing when the RoBeastress and I first got together, so it would be highly symbolic. But I quickly realized that would be costly, wasteful, and a lot of hard work, so I instead tried to think of offbeat, yet iconic suits I could copy.

Eddie Murphy from Coming To America. 
The fur would most likely have been impossible to find--legally, at least. 
Ralph Macchio in The Karate Kid. 
I liked this one because, like Daniel LaRusso,
I am also from New Jersey and feel like an outsider at formal events.
Plus, I am also likely to get a giant spaghetti stain on my white shirt. 
Joe Pesci from My Cousin Vinny. 
This was a possibility because the RoBeastress was considering a Marisa Tomei outfit,
but it really only would have worked if she were much taller than me. 
Randy Savage in The Match Made in Hell. 
This felt like a jinx because he and Elizabeth were divorced less than a year later.
And they're both dead. :(
While these choices would have been hilarious, they probably definitely would have been a bit over the top. My last ditch pitch to the RoBeastress was from a film we both enjoyed as yoots: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

In the opening scene of the film, Harrison Ford wears a white dinner jacket when he heads into a Shanghai night club to deal with some gangsters. He soon gets poisoned, avoids getting shot, and eventually jumps out a window and escapes danger (temporarily), all while wearing the tuxedo. I figured if a white tux can survive that action, then it should be fine for whatever I plan on doing in it.

The outfit, which is a tribute to James Bond's tuxedo in Goldfinger (played, of course, by Indiana Jones' father Sean Connery), has several distinct characteristics: white jacket, peak lapels, black bow tie, single button, single breasted, black pants, and a red carnation. Indiana Jones' version also updates Bond's cummerbund to a black waistcoat. Tuxedo enthusiasts seem to disapprove of many of these wardrobe choices, but they're all fucking dorks and really need to get a life.

Putting this all together was not as easy I thought it might be. The white dinner jacket (technically, off-white) is not exactly the most popular jacket. And for some reason, notch and shawl lapels are much more prevalent than peak ones. Since I committed to searching high and wide for those specs, I figured I may as well obsess over the single button too.

To make a long story short, I finally found the perfect white dinner jacket on ebay. And, well, I also have a second one that is perfect, but the wrong size. (If you're interested in purchasing that, I'll give you a special RoBeast discount.) A vest that was not too high and not too low was a bit of a pain in the ass too, but I finally tracked the right size at a Turkish menswear store called Sarar. It was pricier than I had hoped, but at that point, I was crazy and desperate. It was on sale at least. 

The rest wasn't really too tough. Except for tying the bow tie. That is not something you should attempt to do for the first time a half hour before your wedding. Anyway, this is the final product:
The tie was fake by October. And the RoBeastress decided to get some more mileage out of her real wedding dress instead of going for Kate Capshaw's crazy red sequined thing. I don't blame her.

We also had a homemade Ark of the Covenant. I bought a plastic storage bin from Target, papier-mached it, spray painted it gold, and attached two 5' wood dowels to it. 
A view from the bottom before the aluminum foil murals were added. 
The elaborate lid had meager beginnings as cereal boxes...
...which eventually became beautiful golden cherubs. 
Many brain cells were killed during the making of the Ark. 
A shot of the original, from Raiders of the Lost Ark
And a recreation on Halloween. Despite being guarded by a handful of snakes, these two brave souls
(Stanford White & Professor Plum) were determined to learn the Ark's secrets. 

They were rewarded not by having their faces melt off, but by getting the first crack at 15 gallons of Halloween candy. 

I wanted to make a stamp of the Nazi with the melting face to put on all the candy bags, but it wasn't a very tasteful idea. Plus I already had the chance to make an Indiana Jones-related stamp--one that replicated the Top Secret warning found on the crate containing the Ark at the end of Raiders.
We put it on the return envelopes that went out with the wedding invitations. It really didn't serve any purpose other than getting people ready for a pile of obscure references. More of those tomorrow...

November 5, 2012

Halloween Wrap-Up Pt. 1

Earlier this year, the RoBeastress and I decided to have a Halloween Wedding Celebration. Fortunately, we planned it for October 27th, which ended up being just a few days before the real Halloween was cancelled in the wake of Hurricane Sandy's destruction of the coastal Northeast. We had a few different costumes and a bunch of decorative things lined up for the event, so I'm going to spend a couple days talking about that junk.

Our first costume was Carol Anne and Reverend Henry Kane from Poltergeist 3:

Why Poltergeist III, you ask? Well, there's a few reasons.

Rev. Henry Kane - Poltergeist II

Rev. Henry Kane - Poltergeist III
First, I admit that Kane is much scarier in Poltergeist II: The Other Side. From actor Julian Beck's sickly appearance (which was real--he died during filming) to his disturbing performance (the "God is in His Holy Temple" song), the character traumatized as a child. But for Poltergeist III, the character was transformed into a silly, one-note, Carol Anne-chasing lookalike with little-to-no motivation. The outfit was basically the same, but it felt less like an organic creepy spirit from the 1800's and more like a stereotypical stalking movie monster. I knew there was no way I'd be able to accurately match Julian Beck's look (at least not for a few years when I'm even balder), so I went for the more horror-like costume.

The pants, shirt, vest, and shoes were no problem because I had that stuff already (more on the vest tomorrow). The longer black coat I picked up at a Salvation Army. I stayed accurate with the peak lapels, but mine is technically double-breasted. Oh well, it fit, and it was less than $10. I got the hat at a Halloween store, and the tie was just a couple yards of black ribbon (I went with black and a simple bow because there didn't seem to be much consistency with color or knots in the movies).

The wig was the tough part. I picked up a Rocky Horror Riff Raff wig because the color and hairline was right, but it just didn't fit on my head properly. Then I completely ruined it by trimming the length. The hair quality sucked anyway. A Beetlejuice wig fit much better, even though the color was grayer than I would have preferred. I almost ruined this one too with my attempt at trimming it, but quit while I was ahead. I added some white makeup to my face to match the color of the wig's skin even though Kane didn't really have a white face. Creative license.

Carol Anne was the second reason we went with the Poltergeist III look. The red pajamas were more visually striking than whatever she was wearing in the first two films. And the Speak 'n' Spell would make a much more portable prop than a fuzzy television set...

 (while I'm on the subject, our Save the Date was a Poltergeist parody:)

At 12 years old, Heather O'Rourke was definitely a bit too old to be running around in PJs and a Speak 'n' Spell in Poltergeist III, so the RoBeastress didn't feel out of place camping it up in adult-sized, footed PJs. She picked those up online somewhere and then added the buttons and other white trimmings from a piece of cloth from a craft store. The Speak 'n' Spell was found on ebay and actually did work. Her blonde wig almost fell to the same fate as mine when she tried to trim the bangs back to eyebrow length, but she fortunately learned from my lesson.

The final reason we went with the Poltergeist III theme is because I hold the controversial opinion that it is better than the first sequel. Sure, Poltergeist II has a scarier Kane, the talented original cast, better music, and the awesome vomit monster, but the story is pretty lame. Poltergeist III mostly abandons the previous storylines in favor of a more independent theme--a modern highrise being taken over by spirits. That's interesting to me because it forgoes the usual old, spooky house in the woods. And I'm also impressed that the special effects are all pretty much done in real time. Sure, it has plenty of flaws too, but it's a fun, underappreciated 80s relic. If you only have time to watch one Poltergeist film, watch the first one, but if you have time for two, skip to the third.

For more on Poltergeist 3, go to this awesome website: