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.

Worst headline ever? I dunno, but it’s pretty awful.

First of all, let’s answer the most obvious question: Yes, I was at the gym. I go to the gym sometimes. You don’t get pythons like this by just sitting around eating Cap’n Crunch all day and reading financial copy. Also, there’s a sauna there.

Anyway, I was in this sauna when I came across a copy of Golf Chicago Magazine (apparently there’s a magazine devoted to golf and Chicago) and this awful, terrible headline on a story about Jeremy Roenick, the badass former hockey player.

A real headline in a real magazine.

Blackhawk Down. With Golf. Someone wrote a “clever headline” referring to either the 1993 incident in Somalia in which 18 U.S. service members were killed (along with hundreds of Somali militants and civilians) or the 2001 Oscar-winning film about that incident.

Not only did someone write the headline, someone approved it. And it was published. But maybe the headline writer wasn’t referring to either of those and just meant that this former Blackhawks player is down with golf, as in, Jeremy Roenick is OK with golf. He doesn’t love golf or have a passion for golf. He doesn’t hate golf. He’s OK with it. Best-case scenario: Still a terrible headline.

In general, I’m not a fan of movie references or puns, though I’ve succumbed to the temptation periodically (Game of Thrones!). And this is why. In the very best circumstances, it’s merely lame. In cases like this golf magazine, it’s offensively horrid. If you’re going to use an unrelated pop-culture or historical reference in your headline, at least try to make sure it didn’t involve hundreds of deaths or terrible suffering.

This is me being sad at the gym after reading that terrible headline. Totally ruined my workout.

 

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!

Toronto’s hockey team: Go, LEAVES!

Most sports fans have a favorite team and a backup. Sometimes the backup team’s from a favorite city. Or maybe if your favorite team is in the Eastern Conference, for example, you’ll have a backup in the Western Conference.

For many years, the Toronto Maple Leafs were my backup hockey team, No. 2 behind the Montreal Canadiens. Why Toronto? Good question. Thanks for asking. To be honest, I didn’t put a whole lot of thought into it. I liked that they were in Canada, because that seemed right for hockey. I liked, too, that they were part of the Original Six NHL teams, so they had a great deal of history. Also, and probably most important, I liked their colors: blue and white. Classic.

It occurred to me more than once that Leafs didn’t sound quite right, and I wondered why they weren’t the Toronto Maple Leaves (which also doesn’t sound quite right). Turns out there is an answer. Maple Leafs is a class of word similar to still life, leadfoot, low-life, and Walkman. What Steven Pinker calls headlessness in his outstanding book The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language.

A headless word is an exceptional item that, for one reason or another, differs in some property from its rightmost element, the one it would be based on if it were like ordinary words. A simple example of a headless word is a low-life—not a kind of life at all but a kind of person, namely one who leads a low life. …

As for the Maple Leafs, the noun being pluralized is not leaf, the unit of foliage, but a noun based on the name Maple Leaf, Canada’s national symbol. A name is not the same thing as a noun. … Therefore the noun a Maple Leaf (referring to, say, the goalie) must be headless, because it is a noun based on a word that is not a noun. And a noun that goes not get its nounhood from one of its components cannot get an irregular plural from that component either; hence it defaults to the regular form Maple Leafs. … Indeed, the explanation apples to all nouns based on names:

I’m sick of dealing with all the Mickey Mouses in this administration [not Mickey Mice]

Hollywood has been relying on movies based on comic book heroes and their sequels, like the three Supermans and the two Batmans [not Supermen and Batmen]

We’re having Julia Child and her husband over for dinner tonight. You know, the Childs are great cooks. [not the Children]

This all makes sense to me, and I approve. At any rate, now that I live in Chicago, I’ve moved Toronto down to No. 3 and promoted the Blackhawks to the backup spot. Sorry, Leafs. Don’t take it personally.

Toronto’s Dave Bolland won the Stanley Cup for Chicago last year. Thanks, Dave. (The plural of Stanley Cup is Stanley Cups, by the way.)

Chicago poetry

It’s possible that I don’t like poetry because I can’t write poetry. Every time I’ve tried to write poetry, the result has been sad and terrible. It’s possible that it’s difficult for me to appreciate poetry because I’m just not sophisticated enough.

Nevermind, though, because today I have discovered a poem that moves me.

Adrienne’s family is in town, and we were on a boat tour through downtown hosted by the Chicago Architecture Foundation, and the guide quoted a bit of a Carl Sandburg poem:

Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse, and under his ribs the heart of the people,
                   Laughing!

Turns out Carl Sandburg is kind of a big deal in Chicago, and his Chicago Poems, published in 1916, established him as a “major figure in contemporary literature.” I should have paid more attention in my lit classes.

Carl Sandburg, January 6, 1878 – July 22, 1967.

Anyway, here is Sandburg’s Chicago in its entirety. Enjoy.

Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders:
They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I have seen your painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the faces of women and children I have seen the marks of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities;
Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
Bareheaded,
Shoveling,
Wrecking,
Planning,
Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse, and under his ribs the heart of the people, Laughing!
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.