Posts Tagged ‘entertainment’

As Radio Shack Lays Dying — A Love Letter

March 5, 2014

Once the go-to shop for American geekdom, Radio Shack is closing another 1000 retail outlets. Some blame Amazon, the internet, a dumbed-down consumer even, but Radio Shack really has no-one to blame but themselves.

Radio Shack, we were once friends, lovers even, so take this as friendly advice: abandon your current, worthless PR efforts (after the firing squads are done, anyway) and re-engage with your core market. Or… just die. Preferably quickly.

That sounds harsh, but that’s how things are now.

Regarding your PR: does Toys’R’Us buy ad-space in the ‘Journal of Injection Moulded Plastics’? Of course not.
So why does
 Radio Shack buy ads in magazines catering to electrical engineers? A smiting is warranted by this abject idiocy.

Also, is this lame ‘Do It Together’ campaign the best you can do, a shitty logo with nothing to back it up? How does this engage anyone that doesn’t already shop at Radio Shack? ‘We’re Doing Ourselves’ would have been a more appropriate slogan. Those behind this wasted effort should be fired, and I’m not just talking about the ad agency. All it takes is one glance to see that somebody at Radio Shack didn’t have their thinking cap on… or just quit trying. 

Your core market:  the DIY folks — the enthusiasts, tinkerers and crackpot inventors. You know, like those ne’er-do-wells named Wozniak and Jobs? The polite term is ‘Maker’ now and if you can bring yourself to become a useful resource to them, the Makers can save your feckless corporate ass. 

Drop the appliances and cellphones and all that other crap that every other retailer kicks your butt at and focus on the Makers that nobody else is serving. This market is yours to lose.

Cast your minds back to the Tandy Leather stores, the sister shops to the old Radio Shack. The joke used to be that fetishists were keeping them in business. But if you drop over to their website, take a look at their in-store class schedules.  Hmmm, that’s a tool of engagement that Radio Shack never offered. Interesting. And predictive. 

I know you’ve tried carrying a few fun products like Arduinos and Basic Stamps (hidden between the mountains of bullshit, toys and iPhone cases), but there is a big difference between putting a product on your shelf and actually engaging potential customers for that product. You already know this, right? Well, do something about it!

Everything wrong at Radio Shack can be fixed. If you need some ideas (and you really-really do, old chum!), here’s a few freebies:

  • Sponsor local school Chess Clubs and Science Fairs. This is where Makers and geeks come from!
  • Hold some kind of in-store intro classes. If they don’t know how to use it, they won’t buy it! Of course, you’ll need someone with a clue to teach these classes, so…
  • Get to know your local Makers, maybe even hire a few of them: think ‘seed crystals’! These folks network and scheme and organize. Use them!
  • Make ‘The Shack’ a meeting place for those techie losers… just like in the old days. Knowledgeable staff and espresso would help.
  • Sponsor your local hackerspace(s)! A few resistors and some soldering irons would make a big splash for little cash!
  • Quit doing everything you are doing now that doesn’t work and THINK for a change!

Regarding your stupid Super Bowl ad: Makers don’t give a fuck about your shitty store fixtures… but I’d bet they would compete to design and fabricate some very sweet custom fixtures for their local ‘Rat Shat’. Just sayin’.

Amazon and other online sellers are slaughtering small retailers. They used to say the same thing about big box stores. But guess what? You can’t stream a hands-on experience. I had a coffee seller tell me that they didn’t bother with an on-line presence because that’s not what sells coffee. Same thing with Makers and their tactile, muscle-memory, wiggle-that-wire meatspace. You cannot put that experience or that face-to-face learning down a wire, not even a coaxial one. That’s what Radio Shack has to stick to if it wants to survive.

Do you get it, old friend?
We don’t like watching you die from self-inflicted wounds.
You can fix this… and your shareholders and the Makers would be thankful if you did.


Post #200: Laughing til it hurts

April 14, 2013

Ahh, good times! The National Lampoon Radio Hour’s “California Show” from 1974. Yeah, that’s the late, great John Belushi as “Dr. Thompson S. Hunter” on a bozo journalism assignment (with Gilda, et al contributing)! No, they don’t make radio like that any more! As a ‘teen, I used to listen to this show on this hugenormous Magnavox credenza (after my folks went to bed!) on KTBAprogressive! out of Broken Arrow (before BA’s soul was eaten by the Rhema droids) . It was the most subversive thing you could imagine hearing in Indian Territory!

The first Saturday Night Live cast had a large contingent of talent from NatLamp. I’m an ‘old’ SNL fan, just because I remember hooting at skits like this one.  Nah, I don’t watch it much any more. The new kids just don’t know when the ‘funny’ has died.

I had the extreme pleasure of a luncheon with two of me old mates that I hadn’t seen since the ’80s last Friday. Kevin, Jane, damn that was good to see youse gang! Let’s do it again in another 30 years, what say? Maybe sooner?

Phill Plait at Bad Astronomy includes us in a subtle in-joke:  “When Federalists and the Federation Collide“. It had slipped right by me, too, but then I only caught the occasional episode of The West Wing (like the epic Penn & Teller bit, for example).

Speaking of the freedom and the press, the latest issue  of  Steampunk Magazine (#9!!!) will be released in just a matter of days! Just saw the proofs and it looks totally fabulous! It’s got everything: fiction, art, essays by great minds and guiding lights, an interview with Cory Doctorow, fresh costuming tips and how-to’s (including another very hazardous one from a disreputable Professor ‘O’).  Enjoy the free download, but there’s wayyy more mojo in purchasing a printed copy! We all need more mojo, right?

All my ears and whiskers! A Sooner Tea Party co-founder, Al ‘Mad Hatter’ Gerhart, 54, of Oklahoma City, has been charged with blackmailing State Sen. Cliff Branan and violating the Oklahoma Computer Crimes Act. At stake was Gerhart’s dire fears about the sinister UN conspiracy called “Agenda 21”, which Branan called “a fringe conspiracy issue that is frankly just bad public policy.” Hats off to Sen. Branan for knowing crazy when he sees it!

Remember when, running for president back in 2008, Barack Obama vowed never to cut Social Security’s cost-of-living adjustments? He seems to be having second thoughts now, despite Social Security being self-funding and having no impact on the deficit whatsoever (even St. Ronnie Reagan knew that). I fear the Prez has fallen in with a bad crowd!

The Art of the Possible

December 7, 2012

Michigan pigs pepper-sprayed and arrested protesters of  the “Right to Work for Less” legislation in the Michigan state Senate building. It’s the same anti-union bullshit, different state.

Jim DeMint (R-SC) is ditching his seat in Congress to become president of the Heritage Foundation in January, with a presidential run in 2016 rumored. Esquire’s Charles Pierce says: “Nobody better personifies the casual cruelty, the reckless disregard for the general welfare, the heedless contempt for the idea of a general political commonwealth, and the deep fealty to the rising power of oligarchy in this country than does DeMint, who first rode into the Senate by arguing, among other things, that gay people should not teach in the public schools”. But that’s just the nice things he says.

Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had to filibuster his own bill, which would have given the president the authority to raise the federal debt ceiling on his own, because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) called his bluff and wanted to put it up for a vote. Hilarity ensued.

Good news, everyone in Washington state! You can smoke pot and get gay-married legally! Imagine, control of your own minds and bodies and LIVES! It usually can’t happen here.

In light of Indiana state Sen. Dennis Kruse’s (R-Olduvai Gorge) bill requiring teachers “to provide evidence if students challenge their science lessons”, Wonkette wonders ‘If “Intelligent Design” evolved from Creationism, why are there still Creationists?

Well, Dr Ketchum’s “Bigfoot DNA analysis” paper has been rejected by peer review journal… but it’s been released anyway. All hail!

Local officials banned access to the Pic de Bugarach, a mountain in the southwest of France, where rumor has it the hilltop will open on the Earth’s last day,  December 21, and aliens will emerge with spaceships to save nearby humans. Local police are also clamping down on those hoping to cash in on doomsday fever by selling end-of-the-world memorabilia at out of this world prices.

Dave, baby, you were always a juke-box bargain at St. Michael’s. Dave Brubeck almost got kicked out of Conservatory when it was discovered that he couldn’t read music. After several teachers came forward to plead his case, he was allowed to graduate as long as he promised to never teach piano. He died a legend yesterday at 91. R.I.P. His ‘Blue Rondo A La Turk’, in memoriam.

Rubin Bolling’s comic take on the Hostess bankruptcy, “Captain Industry vs. Union Man”, is required reading! Click the first frame below to see the whole work of Truth and Beauty:

It’s All Scientifical!

December 6, 2012

A panel of prominent scientists and paleontologists have discovered new groundbreaking evidence that Jesus walked with dinosaurs! Also, Jesus had pale white skin with blonde hair and blue eyes and this endeared him to his pet Agilisaurus.

Wait for it: France is preparing its special forces for a mission in war-torn Syria, French weekly magazine Le Point reports. Others aren’t so sure it’s time for that. Cripes! Not again!

2016 presidential hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) tried to walk back his statement to GQ Magazine that the Earth could have been “created in 7 days” but he wasn’t sure because “I’m not a scientist, man.” Wow, it’s almost like he’s torn between the nut-clusters and those that have a relationship with reality (as we know it)! Today, in an interview with Politico, he clarified his position to the opposite view. “There is no scientific debate on the age of the earth,” Rubio explained. “I mean, it’s established pretty definitively, it’s at least 4.5 billion years old.” Furthermore he stated his belief, no doubt heartfelt, that “I just think in America we should have the freedom to teach our children whatever it is we believe”… no matter how freaking schizophrenic, apparently. USA! USA! USA!

You mad, bro? The House voted on Wednesday to strike the word “lunatic” from all federal laws and only one lawmaker voted against the measure: Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas). It was unclear initially why the Tea Party favorite opposed the change, and a Gohmert spokeswoman did not return a request for comment. Here’s Gohmert opining on how oil pipelines help caribou have sex. He’s also said that the Affordable Care Act would result in GE having access to the Supreme Court’s health care records, and that Obama immigration policies are turning us into a “third world, corrupt country.

Good thing for Murdoch and the GOP that the FCC isn’t paying attention to any of this: secret Petraeus audio means Fox News is officially an arm of the GOP, Rachel Maddow explains. BUT AT LAST THERE IS A SCIENTIFIC EXPLANATION!

Dinesh D’Souza is soooo mad that “2016” didn’t get an Academy Award nomination he could just spit! Yet another libtard conspiracy or a triumph of good taste?

‘Walking Dead’ fan shoots girlfriend who wouldn’t get serious about zombie attacks. Another mid-season hiatus related crime!

It’s just common sense!

“Sever The Feeling”, Bring on the Vocals!

December 2, 2012
Tim and D

Tim and D of Sever The Feeling

Last night saw the debut of Sever the Feeling with a certain blogger’s daughter, “D”, providing female vocals.  The venue was The Shrine in Tulsa, at the historic intersection of 18th and Boston Avenue. This is a corner rich with memories for me: underage drinking in the “liquor by the wink” era, listening to jazz at the Nine of Cups, munching on avocado sandwiches under the pressed-tin ceiling at Boston Avenue Market with the D’s mother back in the day… good times.

The night was billed “Metal Meets Industrial“, with a number of local bands rotating through the stage. There were many familiar faces from the Assimilation crowd, making it a comfortable crowd. As is usual with live music, the schedule was “fluid”, so there was time for D to relax and hob-nob with members of the other waiting bands.  The patio/deck area became an impromptu green room. The guys in Nursing Home Panty Raid out of Wichita KS, were friendly and erudite, sharing tips and anecdotes with D before the conversation veering off into “Romeo and Juliet” in the pre-show lull. Metal meets Shakespeare, go figure.

My fears of a first-performance freeze-up were just wrong. STF’s turn on stage came and the band got down to business.  D, nattily attired in boots, gartered hose and and a snappy skeletal print top, took center stage and the magic happened. If I’d had any doubts, they were gone by the middle of the first number. Despite the awkward acoustics of the space (my heart went out to the house sound man), the whole band shined. Tim’s compositions and keyboards were sublime and D made vocals like I’d never heard before.

I felt like vampire meets stake –I’d been far more nervous about it than she. Their set positively rawked. Not biased even a little bit: go see Sever The Feeling if you ever get the chance. You’ll be hearing some damned good music. Tell ’em Offlogic sent you.

Postcards from Lemuria

September 27, 2012

I spent last evening chasing down an odd reference that seems to have been infinitely propagated across the Web. I’m digging into the history surrounding Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee celebrations in 1887, and everywhere I looked the phrase “The procession through London, according to Mark Twain, ‘stretched to the limit of sight in both directions'” kept cropping up, like a zombie.

There was one problem with this: I could find no source indicating Mark Twain was even at the Golden Jubilee, and I couldn’t find any attribution of the quote other than the “according to Mark Twain” bit.   It was even there on the Royal Family’s official website and it was making me nuts.

You see, it was a matter of life and death for Twain. I was doing research for a bit of fiction, and if he was really there it vitally mattered. So, I finally said the right incantations before the Altar of the Allmighty Google and the source of the quote was revealed to me: the line was a direct quote of Twain’s essay “Queen Victoria’s Jubilee”. Published in 1897. About Queen Victoria’s DIAMOND Jubilee. That’s Golden Jubilee plus ten years. Different event. Completely.

“According to Mark Twain, ‘stretched to the limit of sight in both directions'” stretched to the limit of sight in both directions on the Web. Go ahead and put “Twain” and “Golden Jubilee” into the Allmighty Google and count the number of times “according to Mark Twain, ‘stretched to the limit of sight in both directions'” pops up. All of them are wrong. It was a  cut&paste virus resulting in a massive Wikipocalypse.

So I fixed the most egregiously prominent Wikipedia entry and sent an email to the Royal Family’s web editors asking if they didn’t agree that the reference was misplaced (with chapter, verse and page number to Twain’s essay) because I’m guessing they were the source of the bogus factoid that had been haunting me for days. And what stenographer er, journalist isn’t going to trust the Royal Family on matters regarding Queen Vicky and her jubilees?

No word back from the Royals yet, but I did some serious dancing last night after I finally put a stake through the heart of that undead misapplied quote from Hell. I didn’t have to kill Mark Twain after all. At last I could rest.

Are you an undecided voter? Do you know one? Well, Samuel L. Jackson has a message for you!

Looks like M’Lord Willard of Romney is starting to beg, and the GOP is in total denial mode.



Enter the soulless Chinese mining companies, pretty much the same as the soulless American ones. Destroying ancient Buddhist sites in Afghanistan isn’t just a Taliban thing anymore.

Scientific American’s post-arctic weather report: sunny with a chance of extinctions.

The Vatican’s official newspaper gives Promethius two thumbs down despite Charlize Theron doing push-ups (that’s Oscar material, right Oscar?). Their boss wears dresses and funny hats… I mean, I’m just saying.

Have you heard the good news? Here’s a page-by-page examination of Jack Chick’s famous anti-D&D leaflet that resulted in the collapse of gaming as we know it. There’s a Chick-flick documentary on him too, for any fans in the audience. (Anyone remember which Chick title had the line “Hail Eris!” in it? Leave me a clue in the comments please,  I lost my collection!)

Nick Redfern dusted off the Shaver Mysteries over at Mysterious Universe, and I can see the visions again! I can remember those other-worldy visitors, their ancient tunnels beneath our surface world, their discarded Dero psychotic robot minions left behind to torment us with their psychotronic mind-control rays! Why, I remember it just like freshman year… no, wait, that was freshman year!

The Shaver Mysteries were the greatest stories ever told as far as pulp sci-fi went. As I heard it, the tale began one day in 1943 when Ray Palmer, editor of Astounding Magazine, was entreating his writing staff to come up with some stories that would boost their sales. At one point he reached into the trash-can and withdrew a crumpled letter, saying something along the lines of “You lazy bums, I’ll bet I could pull better ideas out of the trash!”.

As fate would have it, he held in his hand the Magic Letter from Richard Shaver that started it all. Shaver’s letter described how, while working in an auto plant, his welding machine  started telling him things:  strange, menacing, ASTOUNDING things! A few quick edits later and the Shaver Mysteries were launched.

The first “Shaver” issue tripled sales and Astounding  saw their reader mail load absolutely explode. Apparently Shaver’s yarn had unlocked a lot of repressed memories for the legions of unmedicated psychotics out there,  and boy how it relieved them that other people had electrical equipment whisper ancient secrets to them, too! Amazing was left scrambling for more paper amidst war-time rationing and had to make special arrangements just to deal with the daily truck-loads of letters from Those Who Remembered Lemuria Too. It was sort of like the effect Sarah Palin had on the McCain presidential campaign, except for the losing the election part.

For the next five years, Astounding mined that rich vein of crazium that started with Wiliam Shaver’s letter.  Palmer’s place in sci-fi history was assured, while Shaver spend his remaining years in obscurity, studying “rock books” in which he alone could read the secret pre-history of the Earth’s previous extraterrestrial inhabitants recorded in random stones. Astounding might have given him a free subscription, I don’t know. It would have been a nice gesture.

Shaver died in 1975 in Summit, Arkansas, but his name and legacy will live on, having been woven into the rich warp and woof of  ufology, crackpotology and our Modern World of High Weirdness.

The “Crank” Mystique

September 3, 2012

Andrew May has a post up on “Theoretical Crankology” that I highly recommend. It deals with the common perception that an interest in anomalies of any type  immediately gets you branded as a “crank”… even if it is the actual cranks that you are studying.  (Microbiologists must get some of the same treatment, because everyone knows that if you study microbes that you must be just dripping with Ebola yourself).  Andrew makes reference to Nick Redfern’s excellent “Ufologists: Do NOT Do These Things!“, which is pretty much a how-to on cementing your “crank-cred” in the public eye. Like Nick says: don’t do that!

Nick’s punch-list for generating a nauseatingly familiar “Bogus-Hunter” generic parastupid reality show is priceless and spot on (“The 10 Commandments of Paranormal TV“). By way of illustration, this SNL send-up of the genre with Hugh Laurie is a treasure…