The Humanoids: Black Friday

Today is known in America as Black Friday. The day after Thanksgiving is the biggest day for discounted merchandise at American retail stores. That makes today the biggest shopping day of 2009. I don’t exactly know why it’s called Black Friday. Maybe it’s because it’s absolute hell for store workers. Though a more likely explanation is that it’s absolute hell for the guys being dragged along for the shopping. Today’s column subjects aren’t exactly being dragged through hell but most aren’t seeing things as all peaches and cream, though.

Time for the regular radio plug. We were on this week. Here’s this week’s episode about H1N1, hockey and the assorted randominity that we usually do. We’re going to tape both December shows this weekend. December 8th is our gift giving guide and December 22nd is our Christmas special featuring the weirdest Christmas music we could find. They’re always fun shows and we can’t wait to do them.

Black Friday
Why not make this post sorta eponymous. I don’t really know what that word means but I’m pretty sure I’m using it in the proper context. I also know that’s the smartest that my snarky column will sound today so don’t get used to it. Anyway, I read an interesting fact earlier this week. Most retail stores are in the red until today. For non-bean counters, stores have lost money all year. Their sales are less than what they’ve spent on merchandise and running the store. That all changes today. Most stores will be in the black (profitable) by the end of the day. You may think that they wouldn’t make as much money because they’re offering sales. While they won’t have as great a profit per unit sold, the volume will more than make up for it. It doesn’t matter if they make $1 instead of the usual $5 on Product X today because instead of selling three of X in a day, that store will likely ring three through the registers every ten minutes until they sell out. Also, holding inventory costs money because you can’t sell the favourable shelf space or bring in new merchandise that will sell better. Black Friday may seem like a win for the consumer but it’s really a bigger win for the faceless corporation whose store you’re stampeding through with hundreds of other crazed/zombified shoppers. And, guys, if you’re reading this, find the other men being dragged along. There’s strength in numbers. By which I mean it’s easier to trample one guy on the way to the newly announced sale than it is to trample the twenty of you standing off to the side to escape the madness.

Canadian Holidays
You know what I don’t get? Americans have more days off than Canadians. We get about 10 days off a year. The Yanks get at least two more off the top of my head. The Americans just had Thanksgiving yesterday while we had ours in October. The Yanks got Columbus Day to match our Thanksgiving. We get Victoria Day, they get Memorial Day. It’s like we can’t get a day off without them getting one to match us. Well I say that it’s time that we showed them that two can play that game. I say that 2010 is the start of a new Canadian tradition. So on the fourth Thursday of November we will celebrate something… McDonald Day? Gretzky Day? It doesn’t matter anyway. It’s not like Columbus Day is a real holiday anyway. We just need something to match. And it’s not laziness, it’s sensible. Most of women at my 9-to-5 booked today off to go shopping in the States. Extrapolating that across Canada, about half the workforce is shopping in America today. There’s no valid reason not give us Friday off, I figure.

American Music Awards
I hate awards shows. They’re all boring, self-congratulatory twaddle. I don’t have the time for them. The best things that ever happened to awards show are Michael Moore and Neil Patrick Harris. The only thing worse than an awards show where an unnamed panel of judges vote for their buddies is one where fans vote. I consider myself one of the common folk (and I’m sure Jackie would agree that I fall into the lowest common denominator) but fans can’t be trusted to vote. For example, in NASCAR, Dale Jr.’s pit crew was winning the best pit crew in NASCAR competition based on the fan voting element despite being 25th in the points standings. Either he’s really got a great pit crew & Junior’s a 35th place driver or the fans are stacking the vote. Similarly, the big winners at the AMAs were Michael Jackson and Taylor Swift. Their qualifications for winning this year, near as I can tell, are being dead and being interrupted at another awards show. I’mma happy for both of them but they could be the most undeserving award winners of all time. Fan voting just can’t be trusted because it’s a popularity contest. Taylor Swift was a nobody until she got the rub from Kanye. Michael Jackson was the butt of jokes until he died. Cruel and insensitive statements? Yes. Are they untrue because of that? Hell no.

It’s a sad, sad day on the internet. After The Pirate Bay was persecuted into shutting down as the world’s greatest Bit Torrent tracker, Mininova took over. I thought it was much better and easier to use than TPB. Sadly, all good things come to an end and a Dutch court ruling has forced Mininova to shut down. I would have thought that the Dutch wouldn’t have minded downloading copyrighted material. They’re usually so high on whatever drugs they’re taking that you wouldn’t think that they would mind torrents. I guess they were so drugged up that they had the munchies and just ruled against Mininova so they could order lunch. Of course, there are some folks that will say that torrents are theft. I say bullshit. People pay for content if it’s worth paying for. Some TV shows don’t air in Canada and I can’t get them through a station’s website. Is there something so wrong with getting content when you otherwise wouldn’t be able to? No. Do I mind people just downloading my show? No. Hell, I found some episodes linked on and was flattered by that. Maybe it’s different with other “copyrighted” content but I put time and effort into the show and want to share my craft with the world. The actors and artists that actually perform the music or are in the show or movie don’t mind the downloads. It’s just another cash grab by big, faceless, soulless corporations. It’s not their shit so they can fuck off as far as I’m concerned. They don’t care about us, just the almighty dollar. So, godspeed, Mininova. Hopefully forward thinking folks like you guys aren’t scared off by those corporate fat cats.

Secret Service
So Barack Obama held a state dinner for the President of India this week. I’m not really sure what a state dinner is or who gets invited to these things. I do know who doesn’t get invited. That couple from Virginia that snuck in and posted pictures on Facebook. In America, party crashing apparently is national news. Granted, these two relative nobodies snuck past the Secret Service into the party but it’s not like anyone else noticed. I can’t really blame the couple for trying to sneak in. If I could walk into a state dinner, I would. Being able to rub elbows with some of the most powerful men and women in the world has a certain appeal. However, I can’t really blame the Secret Service. They were supposed to be checking the guest list to make sure no one was sneaking in but that probably wasn’t explicitly stated in the job description when they signed up. I guess being maitre d’s was under “other duties as assigned” and is far more difficult than “take bullets for the President.” Though I have an alternate theory of how that couple got in. The last President wasn’t particularly well thought of. The Secret Service could have been working under the old Dubya protection orders of “look like you’re working but don’t actually do anything.”

Vanier Cup
Regular visitors know that I’m a fan and former radio analyst of Canadian university football. Well, the championship game is on Saturday on Canada’s #1 sports channel. If you happen to watch TSN, you wouldn’t know which teams are in the game. They run a generic 10 second promo saying the game is on Saturday at noon. They haven’t had one report from Quebec City about the game even though Wednesday was media day. Basically, if you happen across the game on TV, it’ll be most likely by chance and not through the efforts of TSN who are treating some of the best football in the country as a red-headed stepchild (to use a popular blogosphere analogy). Meanwhile, if you’re in or are going to Quebec City, you have an entirely different, yet similar, problem. You won’t be able to watch the game because you can’t get tickets. A report suggests that all 17,500+ tickets to this year’s Vanier Cup have been sold. Mind you, most were Laval fans expecting their team to be there but it still counts. There’s no home team for the locals to support. That really makes last year’s game a disgrace. It was in Hamilton which was an hour’s drive from London. The Western Mustangs were essentially a home team but there were only 13,500 tickets sold to the game. It’s amazing considering that there are more people within a two hour drive of Hamilton than Quebec City. It’s even more amazing than that when you consider that I would estimate the number of Western fans may have only outnumbered Laval fans by a ratio of 2:1 or 3:2 based on what I could see from the press box. That should have been a purple crowd but busloads of folks made the 15 hour trip overnight for that game. Maybe the whole CIS should pack up and host every game in Quebec from now on. It sure couldn’t hurt financially.

Thanksgiving Football
The great debate this time of year is whether the NFL’s two Thanksgiving staple teams should be bounced for rotating teams. The main argument for giving Detroit and Dallas their annual Turkey Day home games is tradition. Well, Detroit’s might be tradition. Dallas only became tradition when Jerry Jones wedged his way onto Thanksgiving because he saw dollar signs. I think that was the same reasoning behind the NFL Network getting the broadcasting rights to a new created third Thanksgiving game. Anyway, the outspoken minority want rid of the Lions and Cowboys from Thanksgiving. They hate the Cowboys on principal and the Lions suck too much to get a big nationally televised football game. Not exactly sound reasons to change a schedule. I’m a Cowboys fan so I can’t really provide an impartial reason to keep them on Turkey Day other than it’s impossible to get regional coverage of them in Canada. The Lions, however, really have nothing to look forward to every season but this game. It’s the highlight of an otherwise dreary season for Detroit. The fans in Detroit have gone through enough stuff that we can’t devastate them with another catastrophic loss. The town has pretty much gone bankrupt, the team sucks, the city suck, just leave them their dignity.

Jimmie Johnson
Jimmie Johnson got the call from NASCAR. In desperate need of a big storyline, they helped Johnson win his fourth straight Sprint Cup Title. I’ll admit, cynicism aside, that it’s neat to watch history being made. You know what I hate about Johnson winning his fourth straight title, though? All the drivers and media saying that the fans have to give Jimmie the credit he deserves for being a great driver. To some degree, they may all be right. To a greater degree, the drivers are all scrounging for excuses. Jimmie and his crew aren’t that much better by exponentially greater skill. After all, Jimmie was a nobody while driving in the Nationwide (then Busch) Series. No, Jimmie and crew outthought everyone else. While there are 42 cars trying to win a whole season, Jimmie and company try to win the final 10 of 36 races. Why did they charge past everyone in the Chase and not the regular season? Because they didn’t care about the first 26 events, just the final 10. So the drivers of the Sprint Cup Series shouldn’t claim to have been outdriven. They were out-planned, out-thought, and out-played.

Well, the fallout from America’s economic crisis has finally covered the globe… I think. The government-owned investment company that holds most of the nation’s debt has announced that they need a six month break from repaying its debts. So that’s why you woke up this morning and all your retirement savings disappeared again. (If you live in the States, your retirement savings never recovered from your own crisis so enjoy your job as a Wal-Mart greeter into your 80s.) Dubai was the crown jewel of the UAE and Middle East and has been in the midst of epic growth over the last decade. It’s easily the most modern place in the world. I would have said one of the richest places to but oil money will only get you so far. Property was the next big thing in Dubai but there’s a small problem. The US economic issues started because of property-related problems. Those problems seem to have caused a trickle-down effect that has caused the bottom to fall out of Dubai’s property market. Basically, the US problems caused business to cut spending which meant that jobs were lost in Dubai. People had no reason to stick around so they just up and left the country. Everything floods the market, supply out strips demand and shit hits the fan. Pretty straight forward. Let’s face it, Dubai couldn’t keep building all those new buildings and spending money without it eventually biting them in the ass. But we can still blame the US for expediting things and making us all have to work longer because of it.

New Year’s Eve
Everyone’s on about Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Christmas so I’m going to fast-forward past the tedium and hit New Year’s. I never really understood New Year’s traditions. Maybe it’s because I get more miserable every year so I don’t relish the thought of a “fresh start.” I don’t know why we have family over either but we let them eat us out of house and home. The only thing I understand less is why there are big network TV parties for New Year’s. There’s a ball drop in Times Square. Big deal. An elevator runs up the outside of a tower in Niagara Falls. Don’t care. But both come with giant concerts and become a grand spectacle made for TV. I just don’t get it. I bring this up because Green Day has been booked for NBC’s New Year’s show. How do I know this? Because they already taped their performance. While they were in LA for the aforementioned AMAs, they taped an outdoor concert that will be rebroadcast as part of NBC’s New Year’s Effing Eve With Carson Daly. How can a New Year’s Eve special be pre-taped?

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