It’s a pity about this backpack’s name

I know. It’s supposed to sound like fuel. But that’s not what I see whenever I come across someone with one of these dumb backpacks.

Instead, my brain reads it as fool. Then full. Only on the third mental correction does it land on the right way to say it. Nobody asked me for my opinion, though, so instead of calling these backpacks something that makes sense, they went ahead with Fūl.

Fools.

You probably already know how Mr. T feels about the whole situation.

Hit the ground and just take it easy for a bit, you ninjas

You see this a lot in job advertisements: Candidates need to be able to hit the ground running.

Hit the ground running. I guess what this really means is that once you plant yourself at your desk on your very first day, you need to know what to do. Without any inconvenient hassles like training or guidance.

Reminds me of this dangerous* toy I had when I was a kid. The SSP Racer was a car that you pulled a zip cord through to make the wheels spin, and when you put the car on the ground, it zoomed off like a rocket. Loved those things. Problem is, when those cars hit the ground running, they usually just spun out erratically and crashed into a wall.

I suppose if I were ever writing a job description, I might revise it to say:

Candidates need to be able to hit the ground and be still for a minute, take in your surroundings, figure out where things are and how you fit in. Examine your role in the operation and work on ways that we can all benefit from your knowledge and expertise. Carefully explore the terrain and try to learn from the experience of the others around you. Meanwhile, we’ll provide excellent training and support.

This is probably why I don’t write job ads. Anyway, while we’re here, you might as well listen to me rant about a few other hiring cliches I’ve had just about enough of:

Rock stars: I don’t think HR departments realize how terrible rock stars are. They’re moody, unpredictable, ultrasensitive, with explosive tempers. Are these really the traits you’re looking for? Because I think I could be a good fit. Wait, you just mean very talented? Ah. Guess you could have said that instead. Also, it’s worth keeping in mind that not all rock stars are talented (I’m looking at you, Anthony Keidis).

Ozzy Osbourne applies for a job
Yes, right, well, my skills include shrieking and stomping around. At my previous firm, Black Sabbath, I helped define a genre. I type about 50 words a minute and am proficient in the Microsoft suite of products, including PowerPoint.

Ninjas: Companies often want ninjas to work for them. Not sure how being a stealthy assassin can help us achieve positive momentum on our initiatives and mission-critical deliverables or whatever, but I’ll play along. Are tabi boots and throwing stars included as part of employment, or am I responsible for my own weapons and gear?

Where is everyone?
Where is everyone? I don’t know, Phil, looks like everyone’s been assassinated. Whose idea was it to hire that ninja, anyway?

Wizards: Oh, you want me to do magic? Gotcha. (No disrespect intended, but this salary does not seem commensurate with actual wizardry—is there a typo in that number?)

Team player: There’s no I in TEAM, everyone! There is a me, though, so whatever. I’m not even sure what being a team player means in all these job ads. Especially when it’s always paired with the requirement that a candidate be able to work with little or no direction. Which is it, people? Am I part of a team or am I a lone wolf?

Self-starter: I guess this is where being a self-starter comes in. No idea what you should be doing? Figure it out. Then do it.

Show initiative: It’s been my experience that most managers are really annoyed by people who show initiative, so stop asking for it.

Competitive salary: We pay just as little as the other companies. Also, we will never actually tell you what this competitive salary is unless we hire you, after we’ve already taken up a lot of your time and ours.

Applying and interviewing for jobs is a horrible, degrading, soul-crushing process. The people who write job ads could make things easier on everyone by just saying what they mean.

* In the 1970s, toys weren’t dangerous. Children were dangerous. If you used a toy wrong, it wasn’t the toy’s fault. Like that time I pulled one of the zip cords on my SSP Racer and put the spinning wheels directly onto my stupid head. My hair got tangled around both axles, and my mom had to shave my head to remove it, leaving an enormous, gaping bald spot above my left ear that let the world know that I was an idiot kid who couldn’t be trusted with simple toys. They stopped making the SSP Racer soon after, and I guess the world is a safer place for stupid children.

SSP Racer
Hey, kids, rev this thing up and put it directly onto your head. Totally safe. You will not regret it ever.

Very curious.

There’s this regional bank in my, uh, region that uses the tagline: The curious bank.

Every time I see it, though, I read curious as strange: The strange bank. I don’t want to bank at a strange bank. I want my bank to be super-normal. Boring, even. I don’t mind strange or unusual things (I ate squid once!). But banking? Let’s save the adventures for someone else’s money, please.

Also, and this is really just an afterthought after I’ve pondered the whole curious thing: Its logo looks like a fraction — five-thirds. What is that? Is that a number that makes sense to anyone? Admittedly, I’m a word person, so numbers can sometimes confuse me. But five-thirds? I’m almost sure that’s wrong. I don’t want my bank to be this way with numbers.

And Fifth Third — what does that mean? Again, it sounds like they don’t know how numbers work, and that diminishes my confidence in their ability to do banking right.

Fifth Third Bank curious tagline
Fifth Third Bank. We don’t understand how numbers or words work. Give us your money!

EDIT! Looks like someone’s been reading my blog posts. Fifth Third’s new ad campaign riffs on its “ridiculous name.”

OK, razor companies, I’m ready at any time to talk money

I have a great idea for an ad campaign for Gillette or Schick to use during the NHL playoffs. Listening? OK.

The TV spot opens on a sad-looking shirtless man with a scruffy beard gazing into the bathroom mirror. Cut to another bearded man looking forlornly into the mirror. Cut to a clearly distressed bearded man in the middle of shaving, face half-covered with cream. Cut to yet another man in the bathroom mirror with maybe an enormous beard. He is weeping. Fade to black. Announcer: Your team can’t always win, but your face can. Gillette (or Schick, whichever comes up with the best deal for me, obviously). Proud sponsor of the NHL and playoff beards. Logo flash. END/

Solid gold, am I right?

A variation: Montage of sad bearded men looking into the bathroom mirror in varying degrees of distress — crying, raging, scowling – and the final one is smiling and happy, admiring a long, full beard before reaching for the shaving cream. Fade to black: Announcer: No playoff beard is forever. Gillette (or Schick): Proud sponsor of the NHL. Logo flash. END/

OH! Or maybe this: Montage of NHL players’ less-than-awesome beards (I’m looking at you, Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks). Then a regular normal person with a terrible patchy beard at the kitchen table with his wife and kids, who clearly are befuddled by his “beard.” He sips his juice or coffee and says: What? Cut to black. Announcer: Not everyone needs a playoff beard. Gillette (or Schick): Proud sponsor of the NHL and playoff beards, even the bad ones. Logo flash. END/

Holy shit, everyone, I’m like the Don Draper of shaving-products advertising. I need a scotch.

What the Amish would look like if they were in the NHL playoffs.
Patrick Kane’s playoff beard comes with a mullet.

Why outside? Why indeed.

Here’s something I saw the other day, and I stood there and looked at it for awhile trying to figure it out. I get that it’s a fitness club. What I don’t get is how to pronounce it.

How is this pronounced? And why is this plant mascot running away? Has it committed a crime? Is it ashamed of the name of its fitness club?

Could be Yootside, sort of like a fitness club for youths pronounced Joe Pesci-style.

Could be a combining form of you and outside, which still leaves the pronunciation a mystery since the ou in you and outside don’t share the same sound, so it would look like it should be pronounced yowtside. Yowza.

Maybe the Y is pronounced separately, so it’s a question, as in Why outside? Good question. Why outside? Well, why not outside?

Looks like the answer is on their website:

In short, it should be about you. And if you’re like us you prefer to exercise outside. You + Outside = Youtside!

Dammit, Jagermeister!

Well, that was fast.

Just the other day, I was singing the praises of the clever wordplay Jagermeister unleashed in its new ad campaign, and it was so inspiring that I decided to pay more attention to the good things in life and initiate a regular Words Used Well feature here at the personal blog.

But now I see that Jagermeister’s ad campaign includes this horrible thing:

Chillinois Jagermeister
Jagermeister’s “Chillinois” isn’t any good. I know I said I’d be more focused on the good things in life (like Jagermeister’s other ad “For the We Hours”), but this is just heinous.

So nevermind. For the We Hours was subtle and clever. But Chillinois is terrible. It’s too easy, and like Jagermeister itself, it’s just a little too much. A little obvious. Reminds me of all the bad Tiger Woods headlines I’ve seen in the world (Tiger Claws Back to Win Something) or the awful Barktober Sales Events at pet stores every fall.

It’s a good lesson, though: It’s hard to use words well. Noted, Jagermeister. Noted. Luckily, this ad is limited to only this state and maybe Chillaska!

And again, Jagermeister lured me in, then disappointed me. This time, though, no hangover and no story I need to make up about where I’ve been all night or why I’m wearing a prom dress.

 

Photo credit by this person I found on the Internet.

Words Used Well: Not everything is terrible

I don’t drink Jagermeister anymore, mostly because nothing good ever happened to me when I was drinking Jagermeister. And also because I’m not 20 years old.

But I saw a great Jagermeister ad the other day on a taxi sign: A festive scene with the words For the we hours.

Nice. And while it didn’t make me want to take a shot, I appreciated the wordplay, and it made my morning commute slightly less tedious.

It occurred to me, too, that as a copy editor, it’s possible that I can be a little too critical. We notice things that are wrong or terrible (I’m looking at you, Chevy and your awful Malibooya ad), and we point them out probably far too often than we need to.

So I want to start acknowledging Words Used Well, an appreciation for the sublime moments in our language instead of the constant snark about its misuse. I hope to pay attention and notice the good things more.

Jagermeister, which is German for “regret,” has a pretty good ad campaign going that I don’t have a picture of. So look at this guy. Slayer’s guitar player Kerry King drinks Jagermeister. You can kind of guess that, can’t you?

UPDATE! I found the Jagermeister ad on an El platform.

Jagermeister ad
Stumbled onto the Jagermeister ad tonight on an El platform while waiting for the Brown line at Diversey in Chicago. So here you go.