Saturday, September 30, 2006


Those of you who don't live in the hearty midwest or/and don't keep up with the financial machinations of the neighborhood pharmacy chain industry may not have noticed the recent CVS rebranding of old Osco pharmacies. While most of the rebranded franchise shops have gained much-needed interior decor makeovers, a few unlucky branches are still waiting for their 21st-century refits. And it is in one of these remodelling-challenged CVS pharmacies that the following photographs were taken. Rather than go all-out with new carpeting, paint, etc., this particular CVS has only invested in a handful of new signs to spruce things up, with varying levels of success.

In an attempt to educate its clientele, CVS has installed attractive, informative signage in the "Wine and Spirits" aisle discussing the ins and outs of the fine wines available for purchase. Here we see the sign for Pinot Noir; note its helpful pronunciation guide, which no doubt has a certain resonance with the consumers of adult diapers over in aisle 9 (not to mention the music fans perusing the cut-out bin of old hip hop CDs in aisle 4).

But it's not just the geriatric set that CVS is courting with its in-store signage projects. Above we have an example of their eye-catching "HOT NEW ITEM!" signs no doubt aimed at the 18-24 market, for whom the word "hot" has connotations of elite status within the singles set. And when I think of hot new items, I think hair lice products. Bravo, CVS! Your marketing department has made pediculosis fun again!

Enjoy using the large versions of these images as desktop pictures. You'll be glad you did.

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ENTERTAINMENT DROPPINGS: Cocaine, Robert Downey Jr., Nick Lachey, George W. Bush*

• Cocaine: making America great again [ABC News, MySpace,]

• Eager to escape typecasting as Morton Downey Jr., Robert Downey Jr. turns to Marvel Comics to throw him an alcoholic-themed franchise bone [BBC News]

• Christ Almighty, Nick Lachey actually showers?!?! []

• George W. Bush able to wrap his brain around the grammatical concept of the double negative when politically convenient []


* N.B. - Any inferences created by the juxtaposition of the words "cocaine" and "George W. Bush" appearing in the same headline are purely coincidental.

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Zen And The Art Of Summarizing The Week's Top Stories In Haiku™

Pelvic mortgage ad
Latifah on Top Model
Fall TV Deathwatch

Welcome Psychictoad
All healthy babies drink Coke®
Piven's failed car theft

Uncanny Hudson
Dr. Phil lied to people?!?
Big goofy scissors

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Friday, September 29, 2006

ADVENTURES IN THE DESIGN WORLD™: Ridiculously Large Scissors

Thanks once again to the ever-watchful Dartanjal, we are proud to bring you the world's most ridiculous pair of scissors. Perfect for accidentally stabbing yourself or someone you love this holiday season!

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HASSELHOFF HOTNEWS™: The Big Picture (and Video)

Fear not, fellow Hasselhoff fans! BBC News continued their obsession with everyone's favorite walking celebrity joke by publishing this gi-normous, suitable-for-desktopping photo of The Hoff at the London premiere of his new movie.

And if that's not enough to satisfy your RDA of Hasselhoff, then watch this video over at, wherein Hasselhoff laughs off the whole calling in a fake suicide attempt by his daughter to 911 in order to get back at his estranged ex-wife thing. It's hilarious!

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ASK JOHN EATS.™ Vacation Time Again

Sorry, folks, but no Ask John Eats™ again today...I can assure you it will be back soon, just not today. That Psychictoad intro really took it out of me.

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

The John Eats Waistline Expands

By now I suspect most if not all of this site's 3 to 7 regular readers have noticed a slight change to our sidebar. Right smack dab at the top over there, my profile has been replaced by a list of "contributors," which means it's about to get a little more crowded around here.

I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce you to's new writer, Psychictoad, aka "John 2" (at least when Ivan's around). Yes, he is also named John in the real world, so not only do I feel a strange, somewhat unholy bond with him, but I also expect him to live up to the brand by being at least as John-like as I am. So please join me in welcoming him to the John Eats main page-writing family. His posts will start appearing here soon. No doubt you have already encountered his fine writing during your perusal of the comments pages here; I believe he will be the shot in the arm this site needs to take it to the next level, wherever that may be. Come to think of it, here are some other things I believe:

I believe Psychictoad has come to praise, not to bury him.

I believe you will enjoy his writing almost as much as mine.

I believe that Psychictoad believes in Crystal Light.

And I believe that in no way, shape or form has Psychictoad gotten the idea that he will swoop in, devour this blog, turn me into his herald, and continue moving from blog to blog (always with me announcing his impending arrival) in a vainglorious attempt to devour the entire Blogosphere.

Welcome, Psychictoad!

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FIERCEFILE™: An Audience With Latifah

ANTM is trying my patience. There, I've said it. They've managed to suck the life out of this cycle so far, and I am not amused.

I was really looking forward to this week because it meant our first view of the new opening credits and theme, what a letdown. I'm not sure if Tyra's voice has always been the one sampled for the "Wanna be on top?" line, but man it sounds awful this cycle, and just proves that this cycle's gonna be all about TYRA -- which I've known about since before the cycle started, but my attitude towards it has now veered closer to the negative end of the blessing/curse axis. The music itself is so lifeless and tepid it makes the theme from The West Wing sound like club music. And the graphics on the credits are astonishingly low rent. Whose idea was it to go with brown?? Maybe somebody was trying to subtley warn everyone that this cycle is going to be crap.

First up this week were the makeovers, another big disappointment. From the creepy graffitti-lite coloring book drawings of the models' new hairstyles (which looked more like the drawings you'd find on Barbie® packaging circa 1979, or something scrawled on the back of a 9th grader's pink Trapper Keeper) to the fact that they really only did one radical makeover (Jaeda), it was again just plain dull...until Jay Manuel went OFF on the models for crying and moaning about getting their hair cut by a professional. I don't know what crawled up Jay's highly toned keester and died this week, but let's have more of this please.

The Queen Latifah challenge was slightly entertaining. It was a nice attempt at turning ANTM into a video game (why hasn't that happened for real yet? I'd buy the hell out of an ANTM video game!), and it conveniently gave Monique something to be bitchy about again. But the artist formerly known as Dana Owens has so embarrassingly drunk the CoverGirl Corporate Kool-Aid that I was clutching my stomach every time she used the term "product." You've come a long, sad way, homegirl.

And now for the photoshoots. I'm getting really sick and tired of being told that Anchal is amazingly beautiful; yes, she has brief moments that might make you think she's all that and a bag of papadums, but look closely and you'll see her face is frighteningly similar in structure to that of a Peanuts® character: her head is a huge bubble and her tiny mouth is swimming in a sea of cheek. I'm sure that's why they didn't chop her hair off during the makeover, because then it wouldn't be there to distract you from her GIGANTIC HEAD.

Megg has no business being on this show. I know she's there because of her "spunky middle American rockstar personality," but please...her photoshoot this week made her look like a learning-disabled squirrel. Was she chewing tobacco while they were taking pictures? What is the deal with her mouth? That's not just an underbite, it's a bad case of Frankenstein Jaw.

And I have to admit I found myself saying "Who dat?" when they talked to CariDee at the end...I had completely forgotten she existed. Which means she's in line to be this cycle's Joanie.

It was somewhat of a relief to see Megan go (she was such a poor man's Mollie Sue), although it was really obvious that it was Monique's turn to go home and they kept her just because she's this cycle's resident bitch and it makes for better television to keep her.

Here's hoping next week gets better.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Discovered purely by accident at Team Kincaid / In My Life comes this amazing image. At first glance, you see nothing out of the ordinary. It appears to be merely an otherwise ordinary paparazzi image of an otherwise ordinary celebrity, one Kate Hudson.

But click on the image at left and take a close look at it. Look all over. Okay, look down. At her foot. Which has six toes.

I'm with Gina on this one, I can't tell if it's real or Photoshopped. But if it is real, if there's just that one slight chance that Kate Hudson might actually be a six-toed mutant...what else might she be hiding? Could she possibly be imbued with super powers beyond just having astoundingly blond hair and the ability to marry a man who looks kinda like Jesus? And what if she decided to use these "X-traordinary" powers to help mankind? What if? What...if?

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ENTERTAINMENT DROPPINGS: Dr. Phil, Winona Ryder, Hitler, Crowe/Irwin

• Overweight caucasian Texan doctor/snake oil salesman's diet pills are fake! [Yahoo! News]

• Waif-like convicted shoplifter unaware of her surroundings [Page Six]

• Hitler joke interrupted by Hitler joke [BBC News]

• Dipshit angry about reports he's to play asshole [CNN]

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

ADVENTURES IN THE DESIGN WORLD™: Would You Buy A Mortgage From This Pelvis?

You know, when I think secure mortgages at a reasonable price, I think dancing on a tenement rooftop.

When does the little switch flick inside the art director's head that allows them to think that watching this annoying animated silhouetted dancing white couple would actually motivate someone to click on the ad or, even more absurdly, actually purchase the product?

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Fall TV Season Deathwatch

Bravo's Brilliant But Cancelled had the same idea I had recently, but since they don't have day jobs they can actually find the time to implement it: they've created Deathwatch '06, an online forum in which TV viewers can place bets on which of the new fall shows will be cancelled first (sorry about that, Happy Hour) and next. It's a brilliant idea, and I wish I'd been able to get it off the ground before they did, but they're actually giving away iPods and stuff so I guess it's okay.

The odds aren't looking good for Ugly Betty, but I have my doubts it'll be the next in line just because of the massive promo push it's received. I think ABC is so frightened by the fact that someone actually greenlit a show with both the word "ugly" in the title and a star who is not a size 2 that they're overcompensating. I have to say, I'm a little curious about the odds against Help Me Help You, the new Ted Danson vehicle. I mean, I know he has star power, but isn't it just a little too soon after the demise of Becker for him to be jumping into the waiting arms of yet another sitcom starring role? I give it another three weeks tops. However, I think they're spot on the money with regards to Men In Trees, ABC's new Anne Heche-meets-Northern Exposure debacle. I caught about three minutes of the premiere and that was enough to make me burp a little vomit in my mouth.

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Monday, September 25, 2006


Nothing goes together quite like carbonated high fructose corn syrup and a pediatrician.

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ENTERTAINMENT DROPPINGS: Asshole With Ascot Attempts To Steal Car has video proof that everyone's favorite Asshole With An Ascot Jeremy Piven has resorted to attempted carjacking in his desperate bid for the world's attention. Well, actually it's more like he got in the wrong car by accident, and of course it's all the valet's fault so he doesn't really deserve a tip, does he? God, what an asshole.

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

ASK JOHN EATS.™: A How-To Guide For Submitters

At the risk of offending my 3 to 7 regular readers and sounding the death knell of one of my favorite features on, I'm going to break the fourth wall of the Internets in order to reveal what goes on behind the scenes to create one of these here comedy bits.

You may have noticed the suspicious lack of an Ask John Eats™ column this week. Is it because no one has written in? No. Is it because I forgot to write a column? Possibly. Would I have remembered to write the column if any of the letters I'd received were a close approximation of what I was looking for in terms of source material? Almost certainly.

See, in order for this feature to work, the letters themselves need to follow a few guidelines. When I began this column I thought it was obvious what the intent of it was and how it was to be constructed; but as in most things in life, I think I've failed miserably in communicating that. So here, my friends, is a brief guide to submitting letters for Ask John Eats.™

1. The letters should be real. In all honesty, none of the letters I've published so far have been written by me. It may be a fake advice column, but I do have my standards.

2. The letters should ask for advice about a personal issue regarding the letter's author, not be a question about or my personal history. See, the whole point of this is that it's an advice column where I respond to another person's problem by writing about something totally unrelated that's actually happened to me in real life. I then offer no advice on the original problem because my "advice column persona" is too self-absorbed to actually care about other people. Therein lies the absurdity; therein lies the genesis of the column's comedic premise.

3. The letters should not themselves try too hard to be funny. If the letters are too wacky, there's no contrast between the intention of the letter and the absurdity of my response. You're playing the straight man. Think of it this way: you're Bud Abbott to my Lou Costello. You're Ed McMahon to my Johnny Carson. You're the liberal media to my George W. Bush. Keep in mind this classic caveat of comedy: If it bends, it's funny. If it breaks, then it's not funny.

So now that I've laid my conceptually comedic chips on the table so to speak, keep those letters coming! ;-)

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Zen And The Art Of Summarizing The Week's Top Stories In Haiku™

ANTM starts sucks
Go West, Young Shatner

More VEGA$ carpets
Jared Leto's blogger diss
CW twins

Spaceballs: The Cartoon
Philip Michael Thomas sings
Usher's dressing room

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Friday, September 22, 2006

ENTERTAINMENT DROPPINGS: Jared Leto Thinks Bloggers Have No So-Called Life

As reported in this morning's Red Eye (and tipped by Psychictoad), fake rock star and professional dress-up player Jared Leto, in an interview with life-fulfilling video game cable network marketing website, has made a bold declaration about the horribly hollow, wasteful and bereft-of-all-meaning activity that is blogging:
"I think it's just ridiculous. It's like a playground for 4-year-olds. People say and do things in the world of blogs that they would never do in real life, and I think it's a false experience."
This from a man who wasted his precious time on this big blue marble filming Alexander. ((rim shot))

Thanks, I'll be here all week.

(Bet you never thought there'd come a day when I could do two posts in a row about two entirely different, entirely crappy retellings of the story of Alexander The Great, huh?)

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Go West, Young Shatner

What a meeting of giants to stumble upon...I have long heard tales of this, but have never seen any footage from it until now. The short-lived Alexander The Great television show found a pre-Star Trek Shatner acting alongside none other than future Batman Adam West! In "A Double Serving of Ham" (courtesy of Media Funhouse) we get to watch these masters of their craft play with rubber swords and hone their choppy, stilted dialogue delivery. Click on, dear friends, and you will be rewarded.

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ENTERTAINMENT DROPPINGS: Well, At Least Nathan Lane's Not In It...Yet

In a move that may finally put an end to the debate over whether or not he recycles more twenty year-old projects than Pete Townshend, Mel Brooks is set to force Spaceballs: The Animated Series on an overwhelmingly ennui-soaked television viewing public. Of course, this is obviously inspired by the critical and commercial success of the Star Wars franchise revival, so we can hopefully expect timely jokes about Jar Jar Binks seven years after The Phantom Menace.

But then again since comedy is tragedy plus time, Jar Jar might actually be funny now.

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WHY GOD CREATED YOUTUBE™: Philip Michael Thomas

Obviously jealous of the smash-hit success (cough) of Don Johnson's Heartbeat, Philip Michael Thomas also embarked on an ill-fated singing career. The fruits of his labor are on display in Just The Way I Planned It, a song that so utterly fails to sound sexy that it could only be accompanied by a video that fails to look it. I mean, all the attempts are there: PMT stands on a catwalk while backlit by laser beams. PMT sings with his shirt off. A group of women wearing Vanity 6-inspired fashions lay their hands on PMT's bare chest. PMT gives his best interpretation of the Batdance. PMT sings himself into a breathless frenzy during the song's climax. There's even vaguely South Asian-inspired video effects. But even with all of these classic "sexy music video" elements, this video manages to be completely and utterly unsexy. Maybe you can help me figure out why.

Truly, this IS why God created YouTube.

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Thursday, September 21, 2006


Now that the dust has settled on the two-hour premiere of America's Next Top Model: Cycle 7, I can honestly say that I have no clue who will come out on top yet; I have definite opinions on who will not, but as of right now I'm stymied by the thought of having to choose a possible frontrunner. Predictions can come later though, because right now I'm just basking in the post-premiere afterglow.

This cycle is going to be all about Tyra, that's for sure: from the "Tyra magazine" theme (can she be any more obviously pitching herself as the new Oprah?) to her cringeworthy, jaw-droppingly poor "model diva" performance at the outset of the second half's photoshoot, we're being treated to a higher percentage of Tyra screentime per episode than last cycle -- and hooray for that, because this cycle's models seem to be pretty bland so far.

And as for the other judges: thanks be to Miss J and J. Manuel for giving it another go (like they really would have anything better to do). Miss J's scene-stealing turn as a stewardess picking the models up at LAX was one of the highlights of hour one, and subtley ethnically-ambiguous J. Manuel directed the photoshoots with his signature mixture of panache, condescension and flamboyance. Our own little resident "Director Of The Esthetic" is no Tim Gunn, but with pecs like that honey, who needs brains -- that's what I'm talkin about. Twiggy still bores me and Nigel will only really become interesting once he gets behind the camera at a photoshoot and gets his swerve on with the models.

They took some risks this year by pulling out some of the big guns right away: the A-swirl Twins were out and a-swirling and a-twirling within the first five minutes, and they separated the women from the morally righteous prude girly-girls by breaking out the nudity for the very first photoshoot. During the initial interviews, Tyra's "I can see straight through the fake" declaration was a top contender for most quotable line of b.s., while the "homeless to homecoming queen" story made for an excellent heartstring pull. First castaway Christian's comment that "touching [Tyra] was like touching my dream" comment takes the prize for the most brilliantly stupid confession.

This cycle's "model house" was pretty impressive, but it didn't take very long for the inevitable house-trashing to begin: sure enough, by the end of the first mealtime everything suddenly turned into a badly-played game of The Sims (as Anonymous A put it).

But back to those bland-ass models...the stereotypes are out in full force: Megg is the Adrianne-esque rocker chick; Monique is the Jade-esque bitch; Anchal is the Nnenna-like doomed "ringer." And what about those twins? Amanda and Michelle have so far proven to be incredibly dull, but they both took good pictures in the "controversial" anorexia and bulimia photoshoots. It's too bad they have no personality and look like living, breathing rejects from a Tim Burton cartoon...the twin thing had such promise, I hope they start to act all crazy or something pretty soon.

As for the week's challenge -- Those Elmer Avenue guys were absolute FREAKS. Miss Jay looked about as outrageous as a soccer mom standing next to them. Like the twins, they too looked straight outta The Nightmare Before Christmas 2: Tom Skellington's Runway Adventures, although the fat one with the untrimmed beard could have easily pass for perennially imprisoned Survivor: Season 1 winner Richard Hatch. It was unfortunate that all the bible-thumping contestants seemed to have been eliminated by the nude photoshoot, because I would have loved to witness the hypocrisy of them eagerly removing the clothes of those rockin' male models. Again, BLAND is the keyword so far: there's barely any conflict yet. Bring back the writers!!

Anyway, the only predictions I can come up with so far:

Melrose will overcompensate for her initial frontrunner-inspired diva attitude by falling into a spiral of Gina-like self-doubt that will lead to her early elimination.

Anchal's hair gets chopped off during the makeover and she leaves within five weeks because, like Nnenna, she does nothing to improve herself.

Megan's "pig-nose" and "odd proportions" get her voted off within three weeks. Twiggy will try -- and fail -- to convince the rest of the judges they're making a terrible mistake.

Jaeda will become increasingly defensive as the comments about her masculinity escalate; she might even threaten to settle things outside with Nigel.

A CW Observation

By the way, what was up with that whole "CWH" mini-show-within-a-show advertising thing for Herbal Essences? I'd read that The CW was going to be experimenting with "new types of alternative advertising" but this was ridiculous. Who is Rachel Perry and why was she wearing a pirate shirt? Who is Ashley Javier and why could he not look at the camera while putting the moves on the audience to buy Herbal Essences? Could he not bear the thought that he has sold his soul to pimp hair care products?

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

ADVENTURES IN THE DESIGN WORLD™ (VEGA$ EDITION): A Brief Survey Of Casino Carpeting, Part 2

I warned you it wasn't over, so here it is: the second installment in our three=part series spotlighting the casino carpeting in Las Vegas. In today's edition we're taking a whirlwind trip around the world by visiting three lovely casinos that attempt to recreate the experience of visitng famous cities.

Let's begin our little trip in New York, New York. Three outstanding patterns to choose from here in the city that never sleeps; it's just like visiting the real thing except you don't have to ride the subway. Or experience any of the culture.

After soaking in the sites in the Big Apple, we make our way to The Venetian, where a little bit of Venice goes a long way. As with most of the newer casinos, the carpeting in The Venetian is thankfully more subdued than some of its elderly counterparts. We actually spent a little time inside admiring the cheesy replica streets and waterways -- and the gondolier who sang Volare in the style of an Elvis impersonator to the passengers on his boat was priceless.

And finally, we leave you with the faux impressionist carpeting that adorns the floors of Paris. It's just like those posters all your female friends in college had up on their dorm room walls, except it's socially acceptable to stomp all over it!

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

ENTERTAINMENT DROPPINGS: Subliminal Twin Fetishism In The CW's Fall Casting Choices

With only one day left to go before the big 2-hour preview of America's Next Top Model, it's time to discuss new network-from-two-old-networks The CW's apparent attempt to use the symbolism of genetic twins to subliminally reinforce their own double-network heritage in the mindset of the American viewing public.

First up of course are Top Model's own Michelle and Amanda, the first-ever twins to be contestants on the smash hit "dramality" show. Obviously the most important question here is whether they will actually count as two individual contestants, or if they'll be judged together as a matching set.

But the biggest (and most insidious) CW twin-tastic casting involves women who have acted with their twin sisters before who are now appearing on the same CW show without their twin sisters! Yes, new CW football comedy The Game features Tia Mowry, late of ABC/WB sleeper hit Sister, Sister in which she co-starred with twin sister Tamera. But wait, there's more! The Game also features Brittany Daniel, who co-starred with twin sister Cynthia in both FOX/UPN's Sweet Valley High as well as a series of -- get ready for it -- Doublemint gum commercials.

And now that I've realized Sweet Valley High and Sister, Sister were both shows that starred twins and broadcast by two different networks during their runs, I'm going to go over to a quiet corner and let my head explode.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

ENTERTAINMENT DROPPINGS: Inside the Actor's Dressing Room

Behold, Usher fans! People Magazine offers up a fascinating video glimpse into the backstage life of everyone's favorite new Chicago castmember -- and by "fascinating video" what I mean is "a series of still photos recycled from a feature in this week's print edition that some intern animated with iMovie's Ken Burns Effect and set to the sound of a voicemail Usher probably left around 3 a.m. this morning."

Thrill to the stunning revelations that Usher enjoys reading fan mail, listens to budget-priced CD compilations, and actually sits around in his street clothes!

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Saturday, September 16, 2006


Thanks to a tip from Dartanjal, I'm proud to introduce you to, the suspiciously unofficial web site for the East Orange New Jersey Police Department and a bona fide interactive design masterpiece. But before you click that link, you might want to read on to prepare your soul for what you are about to witness.

We begin with the obligatory Flash intro (pictured above), a Clockwork Orange-like visual onslaught of internet symbology including ones, zeros, "radar", Gabocorp 1997-esque floating 3-D balls, and a blaringly loud rendition of "The Halls of Montezuma." This eventually lands us on a page with a "critial" typo and (since this is a web site devoted to a police department) an obligatory image of a white woman in serious peril placed underneath the ominous digits "9-1-1."

But wait, there's more!

Clicking "skip intro" (which you can't do until you've actually watched the intro) brings you to the site's real content. Immediately we are presented with no less than 36 navigational choices in the site's top-level nav bar! That's 36 choices within the first 312 rows of pixels, an astoundingly high ratio of user confusion-to-screen real estate. The first six links at the very top of the screen immediately present a conundrum since four of them include the traditional text link underline, but the first two don't -- one is simply an icon of a house (okay, this links to the home page, I get it) and the second link to "maps and directions" isn't underlined. Obviously this designer just picked up a copy of Web Site Navigation Made Easier Through Inconsistency (2006 Edition).

But wait, there's even more!

Click on "Chief of Police." Just do it. You've got more 1997-era graphics and an embedded midi file of the Law & Order theme! Homina homina homina! I'm afraid to click anywhere else on this site for fear that I'll still be writing this post three hours from now!

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Zen And The Art Of Summarizing The Week's Top Stories In Haiku™

HasselHoffman hits
Have Tyra crank call your friends
9/11 gift

Vega$ branded slots
Today At Merle's gone for good
Jeff Probst's ignorance

Piven's riff brings pain
Whitney and Bobby are through
John designed gravestones

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Friday, September 15, 2006


TODAY AT MERLE'S: The Final Countdown by Europe

What an appropos ending to my quest to document the songs I hear at the Francisco station before it closes at 10pm tonight! Oh, how we all danced and sang as Europe boldly proclaimed I guess there is no one to blame, we're leaving ground. Will things ever be the same again? It's the final countdown!

And then, sadly, it was over. All our communal commuting joys were at an end, and every one of us -- the woman with the Art Institute tote with the shaky hands who acts twenty years older than she looks; the short man with the black leather jacket and the Napolean complex who cuts in front of me every day even though I get there earlier than he does; the old woman who coughs without covering her mouth; the now-graduated frat boys who always share a chuckle at the back page of the Red Eye; the grey-haired man in the business suit who screamed the word "shit!" when his wallet fell to ground, spilling twenty dollar bills and credit cards while the rest of us stood in silence without helping him pick anything up -- felt a little closer for what we'd been through. No, things will never be the same again, my friends. But a new chapter in life has just begun.

Enjoy the video.

Okay, fine, I didn't hear this today. In fact, I didn't hear anything...they were running trains so often (and blaring a "red alert"-type siren at the cars that were caught up in the beginning of the construction) that I couldn't even tell if Merle's had their radio on -- so I had to go with plan B and make something up. But you have to admit, it would have been pretty sweet, huh?

Incidentally, I'll never forget the story a friend of mine (let's call him Wedge) told me about seeing Europe in concert back in the day, and they both began and ended their set with The Final Countdown. How's that for showmanship, huh? Priceless.

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Welcome back to Ask John Eats™, the advice column featuring actual letters from actual John Eats readers. There seems to have been some confusion about this column amongst some of my 3 to 7 regular readers, so I just want to clarify a few things. First of all, I do not write these letters myself; as I always say in these introductions, these are actual letters I've received, and when the letters stop coming in, I'll have to stop writing this column -- so send me some letters! Secondly, I've received some letters that seem to be missing the point just a here's a little reminder: this is an advice column. I'm here to answer questions about problems you have in your own life. This column is not about me; it's about me helping you. If you want to ask me technical questions about how to use this web site, or questions about personal details about my past, you're barking up the wrong tree -- please try again with another, more personal question about your own life's problems. This column is my opportunity to give back to the John Eats community, not shamelessly ramble on about myself -- that's what the rest of the week's posts are for!

That being said, let's help out another desperate reader!

Dear JohnEats,

I generate a lot of static electricity throughout the day. In the office there's a specific computer that always turns on from sleep when I walk by (no one else has that effect on it), and I often get shocks from door knobs, file cabinets, etc. This is in the middle of summer, while wearing any sort of shoes or sandals. What causes this? Why doesn't anyone else in the office do this? Do I need to be concerned about my static electricity-generating powers?

- (Name Withheld To Protect Anonymity)

Dear Anonymous A,

Boy, this is a toughy. I have to say, science is not really my forté. And if I knew anyone who was good at science I'd ask them for advice on how to advise you. But I'm an artist who works at a library, which means I only know people who are bad at science. But this is also a delicate work-related situation, and if there's one thing I know about, it's how to handle awkward situations at the office.

Take, for example, a job I had back in 1994. I worked for a small family owned and operated gravestone manufacturing company, designing gravestones. Yes, that's right, I was a professional gravestone designer. And if any job exposes you to awkward situations, it's that one!

See, I was often forced to design gravestones with absolutely ridiculous design requests. Take, for example, the above gravestone, for the man who used to run a chain of "nature"-themed stores -- you know, before he died. And how '90s granola-ish can you get? Nature stores? God, I can practically smell the patchouli-stink wafting out of my laptop as I look at the scan of that thing. And his family wanted so much crap crammed onto that sucker...a rain forest, a squirrel, a parrot, a weiner dog, a butterfly and a guitar? Not to mention the guy ran an entire chain of stores and they wouldn't even pony up for a bigger headstone. Plus I had to save room for his wife on there! Jesus H. Christ! It was all I could do to not roll my eyes at his relatives as they sobbed and filled out their work order. I mean come on, really.

Or how about this little number? "Oh, he really loved his Harley," she sobbed as she wrote out her check, "but I just absolutely adore Elvis. Is there any way you can get those both on there, and maybe some rings and hearts to symbolize our undying love for each other?" Yeah, no problem, lady. Enjoy your last few years of Nascar, buffalo wings and line dancing!

But this final one really took the prize. And by final one, I actually mean that this was the last ever gravestone I designed. I mean, clowns are scary enough as it is -- when you combine them with a heart, two crucifixes and the birth and death dates of an eighty six and a half year-old woman, man you've got a design disaster on your hands. And fortunately for me, I was already working at a new job when the woman's relative requested two changes to my original design: the clown used to have proper Bozo the Clown hair and his hat had polka dots on it -- it echoed the shapes of the balloons! It was a brilliant use of repetition of form, a design choice used throughout history by great designers! He had three balloons, three buttons on his shirt, three polka dots on his hat, and ovals for both eyes and his nose! Good thing I was long gone so I didn't have to deal with talking to the client about it, I don't know what I would have said or done. What a moron. Whatever, it's not my relative, you know what I'm saying?


John Eats.

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Please only send these questions via email. John Eats does not like to be asked questions in person or over the phone, that's during his "Me Time" and he doesn't want to be bothered.

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HASSELHOFF HOTNEWS™: Guiness Book Winner!

Not that we here at John Eats need the Guiness Book of Records to justify our ongoing obsession with David Hasselhoff, but BBC News (who seem even more Hoff-obsessed) just posted that everyone's favorite barrel-chested celebrity joke has been named the most watched television star in the world.

Boy, they sure must have a lot of TV sets in Germany, that's all I gotta say.

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

TODAY AT MERLE'S: The Tremoloes

TODAY AT MERLE'S: Silence Is Golden by The Tremoloes

"Talking is cheap, people follow like sheep, even though there is nowhere to go..." Practically a funereal dirge as the Francisco station inched towards closure today. The CTA guy stationed there was handing out pamphlets today. Basically they say "After Friday, you're screwed, so shut up." How fitting then that The Tremoloes should reinforce the "shut up" part as we shuffled off with our photocopied instructions and boarded the second-last train before it all ends...the woman with the Art Institute canvas tote who acts twenty years older than she looks almost seemed to be choking back a tear as she settled into her seat on the train today. I think it's all starting to sink in.

Enjoy the video.

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Only fabulous Las Vegas could make a poster for an airport's free Wi-Fi service look like an ad for an Eighties porn video.

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