Monday, December 17, 2007

Seriously... WTF??

I try, I really do try, not to make fun of the younger generation; if for any other reason than the mere fact that they're simply too easy a target. Anyone can make an 'underwear hanging out' joke referring to current styles, or a 'would you like fries with that' comment suggestive of the overall intelligence of today's youth. It's just too easy, and quite frankly makes me sound like an old friggin fart. Today however I'll run the risk and am willing to make an exception, because I ran into a situation the other day that left even me speechless. Let me set up the scenario:

Saturday afternoon; Smithhaven Mall. Spencers (big shock there). Shopping for a birthday card for my brother. (yes, Spencers sells birthday cards..) Finding a card a liked, I bring it up to the stoner cashier for purchase. Now, I'm calling him a stoner, because I'm trying to give him the benefit of the doubt here; to say otherwise would imply that he really was, in fact, seriously mentally challenged. Now if that was the case then I must truly apologize in advance, I don't make fun of the handicapped; but I have a hard time believing that, equal rights aside, even Spencers would let a mentally handicapped individual handle the cash drawer by himself. So, for the sake of the story, we'll just assume he was a stoner. Anyway, I bring the card up to the stoner, who takes his sweet time ringing up the order... the order of ONE birthday card mind you. He asks me if that is all; I say yes. Time passes. He asks me if I'd like a Spencers preferred customer card. I say no. Time passes. He asks, "Are you sure?" I say yes, I'm sure. More time passes. He starts to say the price of the card.... "Twenty, wait....." It takes him a full 15 seconds to realize a single birthday card shouldn't cost twenty four dollars. "$2.40" he finally says. I quickly hand him a five, my patience starting to wear thin. I never in my wildest dreams expected the next phrase...

"....would you like a gift receipt?"

"Uh... wha? Ummm.. aaaa....errrr... huh?" That's what went through my mind in the span of a split second. A gift receipt..... for a birthday card. I'd give real money to see the security camera footage of my face as the question was posed to me. As it stood I simply just said, "No" and forced the muscles in my eyes from rolling back in disbelief. Had it not already taken way too long to purchase a single birthday card, I might have actually called him on it, said "Yes, please", gotten a gift receipt and had my brother try to return it for a full refund... signed, licked and all. But I just wasn't in the mood, holiday shopping will do that to you.

Next time, however, I will be prepared.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bush's Days are Numbered, Literally

Taking a political cue from my friend Rich's blog (Criteria for Impeachment), I decided to write a small post about something I found in the mall while shopping the other day which confirmed the state of Mr. Bush's popularity. It still baffles me how it seems, at least in my daily life, that Bush denouncers outnumber Bush supporters about 100-1, yet he was elected not once but TWICE. It still baffles me that this man most likely holds the record as being the most loathed and hated U.S. President in the history of our country, and yet he still gleefully holds the reigns of our lives. "The most hated President? Isn't that a bit harsh?" you might say (you probably wouldn't, but you might just to keep the conversation going). Well, look, every President in my recent memory has had his fair share of foibles, and subsequently has been ripped apart by the media, late-night talk show hosts, and stand-up comedians worldwide. It comes with the territory, and Bush is no different. But what makes him stand out, however, is the LEVEL of abuse he elicits. Never before have I seen so many anti-presidential memorabilia sold in stores; entire books written JUST about a President's lack of verbal skills; movies made about a President's alleged involvement in terrorist activities, and now, this:

A calendar dedicated solely to counting down the final days of a President's reign of terror. Priceless. It's non-aggressive protestation at it's finest, and really gives a new literal meaning to the phrase "his days are numbered". What I found even funnier, however, was while looking for an image of this year's calendar, I discovered that for the past several years this company has put out this calendar, slowly counting down the days until this man is finally and forcefully removed from office. Now how many Presidents have you known to evoke this kind of animosity from the American people?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Got a Buck? Go Elsewhere

Throughout my many years in the publishing and advertising fields, I've learned and accepted this simple fact: clients and advertisers love to idiot-proof the hell out of their advertisements. "If we don't put the price 10 times bigger than the rest of the type, they'll think it's free"; "If we don't put our name and phone number 15 different places, they won't know who to call..."; "More color means more sales, add more color!" So it really cracks me up when I see marketing that completely abandons this concept. Case in point: I came across a store in a strip mall yesterday whose name pretty much said it all: "Things Over $1.00". Yes, that was the name of the store; it was not just a sign in the window, it was not in front of a single aisle; you have Target, you have Best Buy, and you have Things Over $1.00. Just the title alone made my eyes roll in astonishment, wondering what chimp got paid millions of dollars for that genius bit of marketing. But it's the implication that really gets me. Things over $1. They sell things that cost more than a dollar. Doesn't really leave much out, does it? I mean, does that imply that I can go in there and buy, say, a phone, or a pool, or a welcome mat, or a motorcycle, or a beret, or an air conditioner, or a couch, or a suit, or a python, or a calendar, or a shovel, or a hamburger, or a set of speakers? Last I checked these things all cost more than a dollar, so hypothetically I should be able to find any one of these items there. What am I supposed to expect to buy when walking into this store?

Finally, a true one-stop shopping experience

I mean, I get it. I know what they're trying to do. They're in the same field as those "99¢ Stores" and "Under $1" places. But there are two flaws in their strategy: First off, The whole appeal of a "99¢ store" is just that: everything is 99 cents. You can go in with a few bucks and leave with several things. It's almost like a garage sale, without worrying about whose feet those nailclippers touched last. What exactly is the appeal of a store that touts everything in their store as costing "over a dollar"? Sure it could mean some things are, like, $1.09, but it also means some might be $2.09, or $4.99, or $9.99. At that point they're really no better than any other store that sells low-end crap, so why bother?
The second point is simply this: it's a grim reminder of today's economic environment. Over at the Thymenage blog, Steve wrote about a similar phenomenon having to do with gumball machines and the inflation from 10 cents to 25 cents to now up to 50 cents plus, all for the same crap you got 15 years ago. Click here to read. This is similar to the trend we're seeing here: first the "Under $1" store, then the "99¢" Store, now the "Over $1" Store. I for one am putting my foot down here and now; I refuse to shop at any crappy merchandise establishment selling their cheap sub-standard goods for anything over a dollar! Join me, and we'll ensure a future free of overpriced knick-knacks and clothes hangars, knock-off batteries and plastic tools.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Torture!! Bloody Torture!!

I try not to do "hey, this happened to me today" blog entries, but this I think deserves an exception. I've been following this game 'Bioshock' closely for almost a year; it's the first of many Next Gen PC games coming out in the next few months, and it's finally being released August 21st, a day after my birthday. I had heard rumors that some stores were selling it already, even though they were supposed to wait until the 21st by law, but I never thought anything of it, figuring it was only the XBox version that was circulating around and I'd never have the luck to come across a store that was selling them anyway. I decided I wanted the Collector's Edition, which comes with a whole mess of geeky goodness to satisfy my thirst for tacky extras, including a figurine of the main baddie of the game, the Big Daddy; a soundtrack; a bonus behind-the-scenes DVD; and other fun stuff. So today I figured I'd check in at the local Gamestop store during lunch to see what the deal was, as the Collectors Edition was supposedly a Gamestop exclusive. Here's the dialog, in a nutshell:

Gamestop Employee: "Can I help you find something?"
Paul: "Sort of, are you guys getting the Collector's Edition of Bioshock for the PC?"
GE (slowly): "Yeeees.... yes we are"
Paul: "Um..Ok....."
GE: "Here's the story on that..."
Paul: "There's a story?"
GE: "Yes, the story is we're only getting one Collector's Edition in this store on release day...."
(OK, I thought, here comes the high pressure sell, even though I already decided I was pre-ordering it....)
GE: "...and it's waiting to be reserved"
(At least he didn't say it was already reserved... I don't care if there was one or one hundred, as long as they keep one for me.)
Paul: "Ok, sounds good."
(slight pause)
GE: "Wanna know the worst thing?"
Paul: "Um, OK, what's that?"
GE: "It's sitting in our back room there, but we can't sell it until the 21st."
Paul: "WHAT? You guys got them in already? How'd that happen? I thought it went Gold only a few days ago."
GE: "No idea. They came in early, but we're not allowed to sell them until Tuesday."
Paul: "Arg! You gotta be kidding me! It's the collectors edition?"
GE: "Yep"
Paul: "With the porthole window box?"
GE: "Yep."
Paul: "And the Big Daddy figurine looking out the porthole?"
GE: "Yep."
Paul: "Aagghhh! You're killing me! Hey, does it make a difference that my birthday is Monday??"
GE: "Nope"
Paul: "DAMMIT!"
GE: So...would you like to pre-order it?"
Paul: "Son of a.....(sigh).... yeah."

"you will be mine Big Daddy, oh yes, you will be mine"

So now I have to freakin' wait until Tuesday to pick up the most highly anticipated game of the year while it sits on a back shelf in Gamestop's inventory room. I know what you're all thinking... you're thinking, "Geez, I'm surprised you didn't ask to see it and hold the box in your grubby little freak." Well, I'd be lying if I said I didn't STRONGLY consider asking him to bring it out to see what it looked like, but decided to salvage what little dignity and self-respect I had left and departed. I can wait another few days, I guess.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Stupid People in the News

I'm sorry, I tried to come up with a more clever title for this blog entry, but sometimes the direct approach just works the best. I usually don't do commentary on news events, but this one just had me so baffled I felt the urge to write and let the world (or at least my circle of readers) know these people exist.
You may recall a few years back a very bizarre event which occurred in Erie, PA. A pizza deliveryman walked into a bank with what appeared to be a bomb locked around his neck, and demanded money. After the robbery he left the bank and was soon stopped by police, to whom he explained that he had been taken hostage while delivering a pizza, forced to wear the collar bomb and told to rob the bank. He insisted the bomb was set to go off if he did not return, and sure enough shortly after being handcuffed to a police vehicle, was killed when the bomb detonated. What prompted me to run to my computer and blog was the news article I read today, announcing police had arrested two individuals as co-conspirators to that bank robbery plot. One of the two, Marjorie Armstrong (the apparent ringleader) is currently serving time in prison for the murder of her boyfriend. She was linked to the robbery scheme when the body of her boyfriend was discovered in a freezer in a house near the building to which the pizza deliveryman was delivering a pizza at the time of his abduction. Let me repeat: She's already been prosecuted and imprisoned for the murder of her boyfriend, and has now been charged with plotting a bank robbery. OK, now for the 'stupid' part. In defending his client, Miss Armstrong's attorney denies she could have had any part in the planning and execution of the bank robbery, saying (and this is a direct quote), "Margie's bipolar and has other problems...She won't get off of something until that thing is settled. So it's hard for me to believe she'd be planning a bank robbery when she's concerned about her boyfriend's body."

I'll pause to let that sink in............

This statement, I believe, is proof positive that evolution has officially stopped, reversed course and is now racing backwards. I don't even know where to begin to describe how many ways this single quote justifies EVERY dead lawyer joke I've ever heard in my life. His defense... of this woman..... is she's bipolar and therefore incapable of dealing with two heinous crimes simultaneously. Wow... who knew the mental illness card could now be taken to such a new low. I can see where we're heading: "Your honor, my client couldn't possibly have committed this murder, because she has OCD, and there were dirty dishes left at the scene of the crime, which my client would NEVER have left without washing......" Wait for it... you know it's coming.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Rock On, You Crazy Hero

Damn you Joe. Damn you to hell.

For all of you who are NOT Joe, let me explain: I have this problem you see. My head is like a fertile garden; once a seed is planted it takes root and grows at an extraordinary pace until I satisfy it. Knowing this, and knowing how susceptible I am to suggestion, especially when it comes to gaming, my friend Joe maliciously and with intent to disrupt my life planted a seed that would spread and take over my mind like a parasitic weed. This seed: Guitar Hero 2.

I don't think even Joe expected what happened next.

I generally don't like console games, and never really got into them. I didn't have Guitar Hero 2. I didn't have a Playstation 2. And I certainly didn't have not one but two Guitar controllers. But a week after being shown a video on YouTube of some kid rocking out to Rush's "YYZ" on Guitar Hero 2 Click here to watch , and a brief visit to eBay, I now do. And let me tell you, it was the best $200 I've spent in years! This game completely and unequivocally rocks. For those who live shielded from the video game world, a brief description may be in order. It comes with a guitar-shaped controller with five colored fret buttons on the neck and a strum bar in the body, essentially letting you mimic the act of playing a guitar while color-coded notes fly down your screen according to the song being played. The object of course is to hit the right colored notes in time with those on the screen, whilst hitting the strum bar to simulate strumming the strings of a guitar. If you've ever seen Dance Dance Revolution, it's along the same lines, but with less energy expended and alot more hand dexterity required.

Yes, Steve... I wore the "National Scream" shirt just for you.

The greatest appeal of the Guitar Hero series is simply this: it gives musically-challenged people like me the ability to feel as if I'm really playing guitar along to some of rocks greatest tunes, without having a clue how to actually play. Anyone who's ever fingered their steering wheel while driving along to "You Really Got Me" or "Sweet Child O' Mine" can understand the attraction of this game. It's basically air guitar with an added sense of skill and accomplishment. I've never played a real note on a guitar in my life, and yet can already nail riffs and chords on the Medium setting. Don't let me misguide you however; this game does NOT teach you how to play guitar, no more than playing a combat simulator teaches you to how to fly a fighter jet. But just like piloting a virtual jet into a virtual war is meant to be enjoyable to the typical gamer without being overly complicated (or dangerous), Guitar Hero is designed to let the average person enjoy the sensation of rocking out to the classics without years of music lessons or succumbing to stage fright.

I've come across a few discussions online as to whether musicians who actually know how to play guitar would find this game easier or harder than the average guitar virgin. The obvious answer would seem to be yes, of course, since the game is a watered down simplified version of the real thing; however, some argue that in actuality the strict nature of the game and the necessity to hit the notes EXACTLY as shown with no room for improvisation or adding one's own style makes it MORE difficult for a seasoned player to adapt to the game. Personally I don't believe in that poppycock; to be honest I don't believe in the use of the word 'poppycock' either, but it seemed to fit the idea I was trying to portray nicely, so there you go.

So now, with my little Vince Neil look-alike avatar strumming a Gibson Explorer with Rising Sun graphics (OK, maybe not so little, after all, I AM playing on my 67" widescreen!) I rock away to Cheap Trick's "Surrender", Black Sabbath's "War Pigs", Rage Against the Machine's "Killing in the Name of", and of course, the Crüe's "Shout at the Devil". All I need now is a second player to explore the wonderful world of Co-op play; After all, what's the use in being a guitar hero if you can't share the limelight with your friends? So..... any takers? =)

Welcome to my wonderful world of obsessions.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

No Purchase Necessary

I went to Kentucky Fried Chicken for lunch today. I know, I know, with my cholesterol, that's the last place I should have gone, but I was craving some hot wings and surprisingly, KFC has some pretty decent wings. So there I was, sitting down with my meal, and looking around for something to read. I like having something to occupy my eyes while I eat meals, whether it be a tv show, video game, or the placemat on the tray of a fast-food restaurant. To my dismay KFC's placemat had nothing of relevance to read, so I grabbed the receipt to check it out, and lo and behold, a contest! Well not really a contest, it was one of those opinion survey things, where you call or log onto their site, let them know how your experience was, and possibly win $1,000 for your troubles. These "E-pinion" things seem to have become very popular lately, as if restaurant owners suddenly realized that 'Customer Satisfaction' is not just a empty promise scrawled across a mission statement. While reading the contest info and rules, I came across a frequently used term in contests: No Purchase Necessary. I found this quite odd, for a number of reasons. First, I would never have known about the survey unless I actually purchased something and found it on the back of the receipt; but more importantly, the whole point of the contest was to encourage patrons who are buying things to take a survey to rate the service received. If there was no transaction, no purchase and no interaction with the staff, how am I supposed to rate them on a service I didn't receive? What am I supposed to say if logging on to the site after NOT having made a purchase? Is there an entire column labeled "Not applicable" for those that just decided to take the survey for the hell of it, having never stepped into the restaurant?
Don't get me wrong, I understand the whole "No Purchase Necessary" thing is pretty standard on most contests, especially those that are instant winning types or those in which you need multiple pieces to win, such as the McDonald's Monopoly game. These also crack me up though, because along with the whole "No Purchase" thing they also state that you can "write in for a free gamepiece" or "free scratch-off game", as if they're really going to send a million-dollar winning gamepiece to some loser who couldn't even be bothered eating at their restaurant.
Anyway, as far as KFC's "" survey went, I decided to call them on it, wondering if maybe they had some kind of contingency for those who actually did walk in and out of the store without purchasing a single item. Sure enough, the first screen I get to: "Look on the front of your receipt and find the store number.... Enter the number in the space below exactly as it appears on the receipt." Hmmm... OK, kinda hard to do if one HAS no receipt, but whatever. As I was in fact lucky enough to have one, I punched in the number, answered 3 little questions, and was coldly told I was not this weeks winner, and to try again in six weeks. SIX WEEKS? The receipt confirms this: "Limit 1 entry every 6 weeks". I had to wonder how they plan on monitoring this, given I supplied absolutely no information about myself save for the 7-digit store number. I input the number again, and this time I get a much longer survey. Ah...filled it out and again was told I'm not $1,000 richer. Tried one more time, and their records showed I already filled out a survey from this machine. Ah ha, that explains that. But I'd still like to know how I'm supposed to participate without a purchase!

Monday, March 26, 2007

I'm a Stinkin' Liar.....

Well, what can I say? It's been exactly 2 months since I left my second job to persue more free time, a more relaxed lifestyle, and the ability to chew my food instead of choking down a meal in 10 minutes. Two months since I last wrote on my blogs, promising more frequent updates due to my newfound freedom, more tales of adventures permitted by all the free time I would now have.

And what has happened since then?


Well, nothing is obviously an understatement. I mean, things happen all the time; to reword, nothing BLOGWORTHY has happened, or more specifically, no blogworthy ideas have sprung into mind as of late. The first month after my escape I was preoccupied with a wedding album job my dad had given me, one of those "coffee table" books that we've been talking about having me do for his studio. That occupied every waking moment of my consciousness; it was a pretty big book. Meanwhile, my other freelance work picked up and I was told to come two days a week rather than the usual one. So, even though I left Star Community Publishing with the hopes of having more free time, the first few months my friends have seen little change in my availability.

Oh, one thing that has happened, I decided to treat myself to another computer. Oh, yes, if there's one thing I like doing, it's treating myself to new computers. So getting this behemoth to work properly has been the focus of my attention the last few weeks; why would I need to get a brand new computer working properly, you ask? Very good question, you attentive little readers, you. Well, I have the unfortunate tendency to buy computers just as they're releasing new operating systems, this time around it's Windows Vista. And just like any new Operating System, it's riddled with compatability and performance issues. Add to that the fact that my new video and sound cards are too new to have working drivers for them, and we have a brand new system virtually useless to me. So I've been spending weekends moving harddrives, reloading software, downloading drivers, moving more hardware, and overall trying to get this to work within my acceptable parameters. It's not quite there yet. Some call it a sickness... I call it a hobby. All for the sake of amazing graphics at a reasonable framerate.

So, I'm not going to lie to you again and say I'll be back to blog soon; I really just don't know when I'll have something worthy to enter, could be tomorrow... could be another 2 months. Right now I have to catch up on everyone else's blogs to see what I've been missing. Thank you for being patient with my lax attitude; I can only hope it will eventually get better. =)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A New Year, a (belated) New Beginning

The comedian Lewis Black stated in his "Goodbye to 2006" Comedy Central Special that time is an illusion; the recording of time (minutes, days, weeks, years, etc.) is something we humans made up to keep track of things, and doesn't really exist. I've always believed this fundamental truth, all you need to do is count how many "calendars" exist in the world today. For starters, look at the dates created just for new years: there's the standard Catholic New Year, the Chinese New Year, the Jewish New Year, and I'm sure several others not commonly known. Who's to say which one is 'correct'? The answer: none of them are. They're all fabrications surrounding events in each cultures history, and have no real bearing on what goes on in physical world. Yes, technically a 'year' is the time it takes the Earth to circle around the sun, but the "New Year" could have been set at any point, and weeks and months were just convenient ways to divy up the time between now and the next time the Earth is here.
Case in point: Birthdays. Birthdays are randomly selected for you. They can happen on any day. When people ask, "How does it feel to be so-and-so?", usually at the milestone 18, 21, 30, or 50 year marks, do they really expect an answer such as, "Well, Bob, yesterday I was fine, things were going great, life was good... as SOON as 4:28pm rolled around on my 30th birthday my pancreas exploded, my left arm doesn't work anymore, and my hair hurts. Damn it feels aweful being 30, but thanks for asking." Chances are it feels EXACTLY the same as being 29. So why ask? Because human beings have this need to set time markers; hell, we created time as a measurable element, why not utilize it as such. When people ask how it feels to be 30, they're not talking physically; rather the question can be reworded "how do you feel about your life at 30? Is it where you expected to be? Have you fullfilled all the goals you set to have accomplished by 30?" Nothing physical actually happens on the day of your birthday to make it feel any different than the day before.
Another example of marking time: New Year's, more specifically New Year's resolutions. Any one of us at any time can decide to go on a diet, why wait until January 1st? Somehow it makes it all official, giving us a hard line in the sand that says, from this point ON I will eat better, exercise more, not kick puppies, etc... Plus, let's be honest, it allows us a buffer zone to splurge until then. I always found it amusing that December 31st and January 1st are just two regular days next to each other, most of the time just thrown somewhere in the middle of the week, yet everyone's mindset changes drastically from "the end of a year, out with the old" to "the beginning of a brand new year" along with the hopes and dreams that somehow this new year will be better than the last. Again, nothing actually physically changes. In fact, we don't even celebrate it at the same time on this planet, rather we take turns in 1/24th divisions as each time zone floats past the imaginary 12 midnight mark. Hell, most people have broken their New Years resolutions before the rest of the planet even gets there.
As for me, I too have a marker coming up. No, it's not New Year's, and it's not a birthday; for me, the date I eagerly await as the start of a new era and chapter in my life is January 25. If you don't already know, I've had two jobs for the past 9 years, not including all the freelance and occasional wedding work for my dad. Last year I resolved to leave my night job in an effort to get my life back, and last week my 2-weeks notice was handed in. The significance of this is simple: I was tired of using that job as an excuse for not having time for life's other duties. Whether it was not spending time with friends and family, not going food shopping, not entering a blog entry, or simply not being able to do laundry, I finally got fed up with feeling as though my entire life was rushed going from one job to another, and I was getting burnt out. Recently I refinanced my apartment and took the extra money to pay of my gigunda credit card bill, and now I can finally say I'm debt free, and no longer in need of working 65 hours a week. It feels good. But what does this all mean? Well, first off, it means I'll have alot more time during the week to see the people in my life. It means I'll be able to exercise more and hopefully control my high cholesterol and get in shape. It also means I hope to have more frequent blog entries submitted, of better quality. So you see, everybody wins! I know I haven't been the best friend/family member/blog author the past few years, if only because of my inaccessibility, but I hope to rectify that with my own belated New Years Resolution: to finally gain control of my life and enjoy as much of it as I can. Because between January 25th and 26th, something DOES change, something IS very different; I will have my life back. I hope to make the most of it; only time will tell.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Way It Should Be

People everywhere....... confetti and balloons scattered about........ tables jam-packed with food....... and a virtual Yule Log the size of a compact car.
This was the scene on New Year's Eve at my place, moving forward into the year 2007. As I looked around, I couldn't help but feel a great sense of pride, surrounding myself with so many people I'm proud to call friends. If there is one thing I can honestly say I'm good at, it's the ability to hand-pick the finest group of personalities to associate myself with. And if there's one thing I can honest say I completely suck at, it's the ability to gauge the amount of food needed to feed these personalities. I will be eating Italian hero for the rest of the month.
When hosting a party with so many people from so many places, it's hard to truly show your appreciation to everyone on an individual basis. Running around, trying to be a part of every conversation, cleaning up the odd spill, and making sure food is always available, it may sometimes seem that I'm not there at all. Since most (if not all) of my blog readership happened to be at this, my second New Year's party, I wanted to take this quick opportunity to sincerely thank everyone for coming, for contributing to the fine cuisine, and for personally making this one of the best gatherings of friends I could ever have hoped for. Despite illness, travel hardships and other obstacles, everyone managed to make it in some capacity and hopefully was able to enjoy themselves as much as my meager little home would allow. No kids were hurt, property damage was kept to a minimum and, in contrast to last year's festivities, everyone took their belongings back home with them. The Peter Gabriel concert from last time was replaced by the craptacular performance of Fergie, the more-than-a-little-uncomfortable swooning of aged rockstar Meatloaf to his teenaged-looking co-singer, and some group that seriously looked as if they just jumped onstage from the crowd and started dancing for no reason. Luckily were were all spared the 'singing' attempts by Regis this year.