Feb. 23–26, 2007

Some observations from a weekend ski trip to Mount Snow in Vermont:

  1. Much like last year’s ski trip in Park City, Utah with a different group of friends, I had the privilege of staying at a spacious condo right down the street from the slopes. The accommodations at Greenspring in West Dover are highly recommended — our stay was comfortable and surprisingly affordable. (Our friend Martin gets a gold star for selecting such a great place.)
  2. On Saturday morning, we were surprised to learn that the majority of trails and lifts were actually closed due to high winds. A few of us braved the elements anyway and managed to salvage a good afternoon. But the bitter cold and swirling gusts of wind were fierce indeed — it’s been a while since I’ve felt truly chilled to the bone like that.
  3. I’ve skied at a number of resorts by now (nine in all, I believe), but Mount Snow takes first place in terms of courteous patrons. Very few skiers or snowboarders cut me off on the slopes, and after I had wiped out on a handful of occasions, a fellow skier almost always came by to hand over an errant ski or pole that had gotten away from me.
  4. Based on his previous trips to Vermont, my friend Jeff couldn’t say enough about Dot’s Restaurant, a small eatery in nearby Wilmington, Vt., and the place certainly lived up to its fine reputation. In fact, we stopped by Dot’s on both legs of the trip. I opted for clam chowder and meatloaf on Friday, and a cup of chili, a cheeseburger, and milkshake on Sunday — and everything was good.
  5. A few weeks ago, I had scheduled a vacation day on the Monday after the trip, since we were expecting to arrive home late on Sunday night. It was an extremely wise move on my part. A winter storm turned our already long drive into a frightening ordeal until well after 2 a.m., and even though I had the luxury of sleeping late on Monday, I was still barely able to move.

[ No. 320 ]

Feb. 14, 2007

It takes a special kind of cruelty for a company — Chrysler, in this case — to announce job cuts for 13,000 workers on Valentine’s Day, of all days.

The massive layoff (or “restructuring,” if you’re partial to euphemisms) will include the closing of an entire plant in nearby Newark, Del., by 2009. Not surprisingly, the company’s decision has already been dubbed the “Valentine’s Day Massacre.”

So, Chrysler, congratulations on effectively ruining thousands of romantic dinners tonight. (I know the news wasn’t a total surprise, even to the auto workers — but seriously, the announcement couldn’t wait until the 15th?)

[ No. 319 ]

Feb. 12, 2007

Random graphic design question: is it just me, or does Circuit City’s logo strongly resemble the “easy” button from Staples?

Circuit City logo Staples' "easy" button

The similarities (right down to a common yet identical font) are interesting, especially now that Circuit City and Staples both recently launched tech-support services to rival the famed Geek SquadFiredog and Easy Tech, respectively.

(Full disclosure: I am a frequent shopper at both stores, and I am also the proud owner of an “easy” button — it complements my prized red Swingline stapler quite well, in fact.)

[ No. 318 ]

Image credits: Wikipedia (Circuit City logo);
Staples (“easy” button)

Feb. 4, 2007

Today is Super Bowl Sunday, and for the 39th time in 41 years, the Eagles won’t be playing in the big game. Their two Super Bowl appearances were losses — the Raiders were the first wild-card team to win the title by defeating the Eagles in Super Bowl XV in 1981, and the Birds squandered plenty of opportunities in a loss to the hated Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX two years ago.

So, how have Philadelphians coped with such bitter, long-term futility? They decided to stage their own bowl game, and it has absolutely nothing to do with football. It’s an eating contest, it’s called Wing Bowl, and it’s pathetic.

Make no mistake — Wing Bowl was created out of pure frustration over this town’s sports teams:

Wing Bowl was the brainchild of WIP radio host Al Morganti, who came up with the idea [in 1993] when it became apparent the Philadelphia Eagles were not going to make the Super Bowl anytime soon.

This past Friday, the 15th annual Wing Bowl was held at a sold-out Wachovia Center. I refuse to honor the champion by mentioning his name, but the guy won the dubious title by eating 182 buffalo wings in just over one hour — that’s about one wing every 20 seconds. For his effort, the victorious competitive eater won a Suzuki Grand Vitara SUV.

Around here, we often complain that Philly gets a bad rap — contrary to our portrayal in the national media, not all of us are boorish idiots. But when Philadelphians celebrate disgusting events like Wing Bowl, we simply reinforce that obnoxious, gluttonous image.

In fact, thanks to Wing Bowl, we’ve become our own worst enemy.

[ No. 317 ]

Feb. 2, 2007

Since 9/11, we’re certainly a lot more vigilant about suspicious behavior, and for good reason. But still, it’s hard to believe that a misguided publicity stunt for a cartoon could temporarily paralyze a city the size of Boston.

These could possibly be the two most bizarre paragraphs ever composed by the Associated Press:

Several illuminated electronic devices planted at bridges and other spots in Boston threw a scare into the city Wednesday in what turned out to be a publicity campaign for a late-night cable cartoon. Most if not all of the devices depict a character giving the finger. […]
Turner Broadcasting, a division of Time Warner Inc. and parent of Cartoon Network, later said the devices were part of a promotion for the TV show Aqua Teen Hunger Force, a surreal series about a talking milkshake, a box of fries and a meatball.
Source: Associated Press, “Cartoon Promo Causes Panic in Boston” (Feb. 1, 2007)

Best of all, the marketing firm that placed the devices around the city was actually called Interference Inc. — they certainly lived up to their name in Beantown, huh?

Everyone shares the blame here. The guerrilla marketing ploy was really dumb, and while I’m sure that officials in Boston were just trying to protect the public, they seem to have overreacted a bit, too. I’m just curious to see how the full-length version of the cartoon will fare at the box office when it opens in late March. (In other words, will Turner eventually profit from this chaos?)

[ No. 316 ]