Conceived above a saloon, delivered into this world by a masked man identified by his heavily sedated mother as Captain Video, raised by a kindly West Virginian woman, a mild-mannered former reporter with modest delusions of grandeur and no tolerance of idiots and the intellectually dishonest.

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Requiem for a fictional Scotsman

Oh my God! They killed Library!! Those bastards!!!

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A Pittsburgher in the Really Big City

Da Burg Annat

I Have Issues

Yeah, yeah, I'm inspired

At least the rivers freeze in Pittsburgh

He knows if yinz is a jagoff

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Saturday, October 19, 2002

Take yer TM and shove it where the moon don't shine.

So I walked into the Starbucks and ordered the usual, a large latte.

Latte venti?

No, just one. Large.

A beat.

You want a latte, sir?

Yes, please. The largest you have.

Latte venti?

No, just one. Your largest.

A beat.

Sir, here at Starbucks we call our largest latte our Latte Venti™

That's nice. I'll have a latte. Your largest.

Latte venti?

No, just one. The largest you have.

Sir, if you want a Latte Venti™, you're going to have to ask for a Latte Venti™

I want a latte. The largest one you have. I don't want to engage in your cutesy, self-indulgent, important-sounding pseudo-bilingual product identification crap. I want a latte. The largest you have.

Latte venti?

No, just one. The largest you have.

A beat.

Hey Betsy, a big latte.

(A fellow customer): What's "venti" anyway?

His IQ. The reason they don't let him near the steamed milk.

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Friday, October 18, 2002

"Serpentine, Shelly! Serpentine!"

That line from the 1979 Peter Falk/Alan Arkin comedy The In-Laws immediately came to mind when the personal safety consultant, in response to a reporter's question, suggested Washingtonians walk in a deliberate manner, but in a zig-zag path, as one method to avoid becoming sniper victims.

No doubt this will eliminate the shootings; the Beltway Sniper won't be able to take aim, since he'll be doubled over in hysterics watching several million people acting like human pinballs.

Where do the media get these yahoos? And why do they put them on the air? If you're going to make a stupid suggestion, at least give it a good presentation. (Thanks to Tom Heald for the link.)

Speaking of which:

Mayhem, wall-to-wall repetition and mindless speculation appear to work, but take heart.

The sniperpalooza ratings figures are in, and on Tuesday, Fox News Channel averaged 1.12 million viewers, CNN had 1.06 million, MSNBC scored 413,000 and CNN Headline News had 294,000.

The good news? Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants routinely pulls in around the same numbers. Even reruns.

And keep in mind this is a country of about 300 million people, which means less than one percent of us were obsessively glued to the tube watching, in the case of the sniper coverage, a whole lot of nothing.

That the cable news networks brag about these numbers underscores the nation's mathematical illiteracy and shows, in the case of Nielsen ratings, how the mighty have fallen.

Before cable television, a show needed a 30 share to win its time period and be considered successful. Last week's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation was viewed in an impressive-sounding 20.7 million homes; but its share was just 19.4, which means only 19.4 percent of televisions in use were tuned in to CBS. In 1982, that 20 million would have represented a 46 share, or nearly half of the sets in use.

It's just the old inflation game. Gone With The Wind, with total domestic ticket sales of $198.7 million, ranks a pathetic 44th in the list of top grossing films, between two Ben Affleck(!?) movies, last year's less than memorable Pearl Harbor ($198.5 million) and 1998's Armageddon ($201.6 million)

Correct the figures for inflation and ticket prices, however, and GWTW soars back to number one, with an adjusted domestic gross of $1.18 billion. Titanic's number one ranking, based on domestic sales of about $600 million, sinks to number 5.

Don't believe the hype. And do the math yourself.

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Doomsday. Film at Eleven.

"We in the press are often accused of hyperbole. Hype for short. We try to avoid it at all costs."
-Peter Jennings

Have you noticed local television news operations don't just have weather reports any more?

No, they have Storm Teams and Severe Weather Centers, even though in most cases you can count on the fingers of one hand the actual number of severe weather "events" most areas experience each year.

I'm waiting for some bright media consultant to come up with a Near Earth Orbit Team and its Cosmic Collision Center. "Well, asteroid MPEC 2002-T19: 2002 TY57 is .2 parsecs from Pittsburgh and appears to be heading away right now. But we'll keep you posted on the movements of this potential civilization annihilator on the eleven."

It's 32 degrees in my backyard as I write this. I hit the recall button on the weather monitor and it reported the low temperature last night was... -54! Could it be a telemetry glitch from the wireless weather station? Or a thermal shock event from a passing black hole? The former seems more likely, but you can never tell... I'm calling CNN.

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Thursday, October 17, 2002

More Mindless Marketing

But why would you want to?

Outback Steakhouse is heavily advertising a radical new concept in customer service... Call Ahead Seating.

Instead of showing up at the restaurant unannounced and waiting for a booth to open up, you call ahead, tell them what time you're going to arrive, and - believe it or not - your seats will be ready!

Perhaps their target consumers don't frequent fine restaurants, where reservations are required for seating. Or that the idea of telephoning ahead to reserve a seat has been around since, oh... the invention of the freaking telephone.

This is what happens when the advertising agency assigns your account to someone who considers chain restaurants high-class eateries.

"Everyone on Earth will become flesh-eating zombies. When the flesh is all gone, they will become dirt-eating zombies. And, after that, some will reluctantly go to the Olive Garden."-from Conan O'Brien's "In The Year 2000."

They're hip, they're hip...

Techobabble is inexcusible, but inappropriate technobabble can be hilarious.

Like the Pittsburgh television station that bragged its news helicopter camera used Space Shuttle Technology!!!. Uh, guys... the Shuttle was developed in the 1970s, and was first launched in 1981, a little over two decades ago. That's like saying Bon Jovi uses the latest in Disco Technology.

The one that really gets me is a Pittsburgh hospital touting that their surgical teams use "global positioning technology." Gee, when I'm getting a hip replaced, I'd sort of hope they could locate my hip socket with a bit finer resolution than ten feet.

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KGB Marriage Tips

Anything chocolate belongs to her.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Questionable Products and Marketing 101

Isn't anyone else weirded out by the concept of a dead guy designing Buicks?
As Jay Leno has noted, the post-war Buicks were intended to be driven by real men, not wussies. No padding.... just rounded sheet metal with ornamental aluminum spikes protruding from the knobs on the dashboard. They were superb occupant impalement devices.

"The great thing," Leno noted, "was that after an accident, you just had pull the victims off the spiked knobs and hose down the dash."

I remember my grandfather had a mid-50s Buick Century and that I sliced open a finger on the sharp edges of a ventilator grill. Instead of sympathy, I received a gruff, "Kid, this ain't no toy."

I'm afraid ol' Harley, the originator of the automobile tail fin, would spend most of his time giving depositions in product liability cases if he were around today.

I can't wait for Thomas Edison's spirit to start designing DVD players. Wonder where he'd put the crank?

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Copyright © 1987-2024 by Kevin G. Barkes
All rights reserved.
Violators will be prosecuted.
So there.  
The e-mail address is now something other than saga. used to be until December, 2007 when the domain name broker Trout Zimmer made an offer I couldn't refuse. Giving up and adopting created a significant problem, however. I had acquired the domain name in 1993, and had since that time used as my sole e-mail address. How to let people know that was no longer but rather which is longer than and more letters to type than and somehow less aesthetically pleasing than but actually just as functional as I sent e-mails from the address to just about everybody I knew who had used in the past decade and a half but noticed that some people just didn't seem to get the word about the change. So it occurred to me that if I were generate some literate, valid text in which was repeated numerous times and posted it on a bunch of different pages- say, a blog indexed by Google- that someone looking for would notice this paragraph repeated in hundreds of locations, would read it, and figure out that no longer is the they thought it was. That's the theory, anyway. Ok, I'm done. Move along. Nothing to see here...


Crystal Methodist

Laugh while you can, monkey-boy

I am a professional. Do not try this at home.

I canna change the laws of physics

As a matter of fact, I *am* the boss of you.
(as a matter of fact, i AM the boss of you.)

Truly great madness cannot be achieved without signficant intelligence

I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

Left wing liberal nut job

Flies spread disease. Keep yours zipped.

Eff the ineffable, scrute the inscrutable.

If my answers frighten you then you should cease asking scary questions.

If evolution is just a theory, why am I surrounded by monkeys?

Nutrition makes me puke

Feral Geek

eat wisely

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