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Remember when Speck Products made a mockery of the Venn diagram and I suggested that they stick with a simple pie chart?

I stand corrected.

What you see to the right is roughly what the bastard child of John Maynard Keynes and Gordon Gekko might look like. It looks like Milton Friedman went on a bender on Rush Street and threw up on a billboard. Look, I'm sure this is the equivalent of porn to a low-level Charles Schwab adviser, but I'm still a believer of putting a beautiful woman in a bikini and having the caption say: Invest in Exxon Mobil.

Instead, some marketing genius said: Let's demonstrate the simplicity of our investment model by constructing something that looks like a cross between "Wheel of Fortune" and the small print of of a credit-card offer, because that will make our investments look A) like a game of chance and B) borderline illegal, if not ethically suspect.



 
 
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It’s hard to believe it’s been 30 years since you came waddling into our lives.

“Afternoon, everybody.”

“Norm!”

“What are you up to, Normy?”

“My ideal weight if I were 11 feet tall.”

Or maybe …

“What’s shakin’, Norm?”

“All four cheeks and a couple of chins.”

Wait, I got a million of them. Seriously. There's like a million of them. And they're all great. Few running gags in the history of television had the legs of your entrances on “Cheers.” Let’s see: there were the brilliant putdown setups for Lenny and Squiggy on “Laverne and Shirley”; there was Dwayne’s “Hay-Hay-Hay” on “What’s Happening” and the universal “Hi, Bob” of “The Bob Newhart Show”; and of course there were Kramer’s slapstick pratfalls on “Seinfeld.” But for pure comedic gold, nobody mined the art of the entrance like you.

"What's the story, Norm?"

"Boy meets beer. Boy drinks beer. Boy meets another beer."

Or maybe …

"Can I pour you a beer, Mr. Peterson?"

"A little early isn't it, Woody?"

"For a beer?"

"No, for stupid questions."

We may have wanted to be the Fonz or David Starsky or Sonny Crockett, but we wanted to hang out with Norm Peterson, drinking beer at Cheers or ordering the Feeding Frenzy at the Hungry Heifer. You were the jolly layabout, the apathetic slacker who spoke to the inner sloth in all of us. In a perfect world, we all might sidle up to barstool at a place where everybody knew our name. With Norm Peterson anchoring the bar, “Cheers,” as Alex Pappademas wrote in The New York Times Magazine, became “the paradigmatic post-‘Mary Tyler Moore Show’' friends-as-family sitcom that paved the way for everything from ‘Friends’ to ‘The Office.’”

On your birthday, three “Cheers,” starting with the perhaps the greatest opening segment the show ever produced:


It's a long walk to the joke in the next clip, but well worth it:

And, finally, the big montage!
 
 
Yesterday I spent the day the way I think most people spend their days today: blogging (about myself) and then spending about 10 hours posting on Facebook (about my blog) and tweeting (about my blog). I also tweeted my Facebook status, and I updated my Facebook status with my tweets. And then I woke up this morning and decided to blog about how I spent the day blogging and tweeting and updating my Facebook status. When I’m done, it’s back to Facebook and Twitter to update everybody on this blog post.

I’m exhausted. Social networking is hard. Are people this exhausted these days?

The 6th Floor

In case you missed it: Yesterday I wrote a blog post for The New York Times for the first time in almost a year. (I know, it's kind of like the Stones playing a surprise gig at a small club.)

In describing the intelligence-enhancing properties of hot German mustard, I said, "As the mustard stung the nerve endings in my brain, I would have some of my greatest ideas and most profound moments of self-realization."

I no sooner wrote that line then I picked up David Foster Wallace's "The Pale King" and read a similar line ... about people on cocaine. "I didn't like ... the way even shallow or obvious ideas suddenly seemed incredibly profound to them."

On the plus side: iDave set a new one-day high for page views (322), FB Likes (19) and tweets (2). And all it took was 10 hours of my shameless pandering on Facebook and Twitter. I even tweet-pandered to celebrities like Mindy Kaling and Rainn Wilson to visit iDave and to tweet about it. Neither did. In fact, not one of my 132 tweets to date has been re-tweeted, or even return-tweeted, as far as I know. Maybe I’ve yet to unlock the source code of what makes a re-tweetable tweet.

Case in point: As the Yankees were making their comeback in Game 1 of the ALCS, Bill Simmons issued the following tweet:



This was re-tweeted 200 times. Fifty-five people designated it a "Favorite" tweet. I mean, it's a funny sentiment. We were all thinking it. But to re-tweet it? I think what Simmons has accomplished in his career is great, and I appreciate the niche he has carved out. But isn’t re-tweeting “Oh No” the literal manifestation of “hanging onto his every word.” Are we so starved for online wisdom and/or hero worship and/or companionship, are we so eager to show that we’re connected — especially to a celebrity — that “Oh no” becomes a quotable commodity? Here we are now, entertain us!

I know, I know: this coming from a guy who spent a day whoring himself on Twitter, trying to get Mindy Kaling to visit his Web site. Does our neediness know no bounds? What I wouldn’t give to have 200 people stop whatever they’re doing to quote me every time I said “Oh no”!

Maybe I haven’t spent enough time on Twitter yet to really understand its subtle nuances. It strikes me as just another outlet for us to project some kind of image and forge superficial, self-serving relationships with virtual strangers.

I will now cite Dwight Garner citing Jacob Silverman in a Riff column in the NYT magazine a few weeks ago:


In a smart article in Slate earlier this month, “Against Enthusiasm,” Jacob Silverman nailed the way that Twitter, at least for writers, has become a “mutual-admiration society” and thus is filled with peril for literary culture.

“If you spend time in the literary Twitter- or blogospheres,” Silverman wrote, “you’ll be positively besieged by amiability, by a relentless enthusiasm that might have you believing that all new books are wonderful and that every writer is every other writer’s biggest fan.”

This isn’t just shallow, he added, it’s untrue. And the constant fake fraternizing has made genuine, honest opinion feel unduly harsh, a buzz kill from the gods. “Reviewers shouldn’t be recommendation machines,” Silverman added, “yet we have settled for that role, in part because the solicitous communalism of Twitter encourages it.”

Bravo, young Silverman! (Please retweet.)

See how it works? He cites a guy and then I cite him citing a guy. Now I just need Bill Simmons to cite me citing Garner citing Silverman. And then Simmons’s 1.8 million followers can re-tweet that, and pretty soon it’ll almost be like I’ve said something here today.

Almost.
 
 


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We stood at the gates of a strange and exotic city, an oasis really — a temporary, almost imaginary bazaar that had popped up overnight in a parking lot in Brooklyn. Shakedown Street. We shared an awkward laugh as we took a visual sweep of the nomadic Deadhead flea market, which is more equivocally known, for good reason, as “the scene.”

“So, you can get whatever you want,” I told my 13-year-old daughter, using an exaggerated Ward Cleaver stern-but-loving tone, “except drug paraphernalia.”


 
 
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This is the 9:40 off-peak westbound train to Penn Station. Please keep your feet off the seats and when using your cellphones or other electronic devices, please be courteous to those passengers around you. When exiting the train, please watch your step, and if you are traveling with young children please hold their hands as you exit the train.

Also, young children may require psychological counseling for the traumatic nightmares they will suffer thanks to FX's ad campaign for its hit series "American Horror Story." Symptoms may include loss of appetite, fear of approaching footsteps, sudden sobbing and night terrors, which may include violent thoughts directed at you or themselves. A list of accredited counselors is available by the receptacles on the station platform, please dispose of all garbage and take all personal belongings with you. Thank you and have a nice day. Next stop, Penn Station. 

 
 
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We always thought you would be the first guy to throw a no-hitter for the Mets. There were some games when you’d come out throwing crazy good: little BB-size fastballs down low, big sweeping curves, a fastball that seemed to defy physics and rise as it approached the plate, so much so that the hitter would be swinging as the ball nearly grazed the bill of his batting helmet.

You were, on certain days, the best pitcher in Mets history. Nobody could touch you. Through four or five innings, of course. Then would come the sixth, and, oh, man, you’d start breathing heavy and coughing in between pitches. Little droplets of honey-mustard sauce would start drizzling down your brow. And that would be that. A few walks, a few hits, and you were toast. Toast that was slathered in sausage and gravy.

They called you El Sid. Or sometimes Double-X-L Sid. Once, responding to rumors that you might be traded, a publication said the move would be devastating to the Mets rotation … “not to mention the New York pizza industry.” But to truly appreciate your fantastic girth, a person had to see you out of uniform. Perhaps in a pair of flowery surfer shorts and a Hawaiian shirt as you put down two halibut steaks, fries and about 87 Amstel Lights at Louie’s Shore Restaurant in Port Washington. Yes, I was your busboy. I knew you’d remember me. I’m not saying you were Mr. Creosote, but ...



 
 
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Epix: We get big movies.

(But occasionally we have to show a piece of shit by Tyler Perry to kill two hours here and there.)

 
 
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Even though John Glassie stole the title of my own upcoming autobiography, I congratulate him on his new book, “A Man of Misconceptions: The Life of an Eccentric in an Age of Change,” which is available now on Amazon or in bookstores starting on Nov. 8. It’s the story of the 17th-century priest-scientist Athanasius Kircher.

Yes, that Athanasius Kicher.

John is a freelance writer and editor who frequently helps us at the magazine. He was the steady hand behind the Lives column for a long time, and he has saved me from many an embarrassing gaffe with his last-chance proof editing. He also put out a really weird book of photographs called “Bicycles Chained to Poles.” And when I say it’s weird, what I mean is that it’s something that would fit right in on iDave.

So that’s who John Glassie is. But who the hell is Athanasius Kircher?



 
 
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Look, Speck Products, I don’t have the time or energy to explain all the laws and bylaws of building a Venn diagram (unlike Wikipedia, apparently). But let’s just start with Rule No. 1: Your categories cannot be mutually exclusive. In other words, they can’t be opposites, because then there is no overlapping segment to demonstrate.

Case in point: Your new poster on the Long Island Rail Road trains. In one circle, you have “New Yorkers who own a car.” Fair enough. But in your other circle you have “New Yorkers who don’t.”

Let’s stop there for a minute. You either own a car or you don’t. There is no overlapping population. You might as well have categories of “You’re pregnant” and “You’re not pregnant.” Would love to see the common group.

But it gets worse. Then you add a third circle with about 800 words of jibberish about cars and parking tickets and blah de blah de blah. Too much, dude, too much. It’s a Venn diagram, not a damn Tolstoy novel. I’m only on this train for 37 minutes.

Next time try a pie chart. Or, you know, something that reflects your product.


 
 
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Sometimes it's better to just shut up and listen.

So here's a John Lennon rock block on W-iDave Radio.