Saturday, February 28, 2015

Samsung's Love Note to mute obsession

And we're supposed to think that the Simple Latina thinks finds it positively charming that her stalker has been following her, taking photos of her, and captioning those photos to fit his personal fantasy world (which revolves around her.)  And that he's incapable of speaking to her with his voice, like a normal, well-adjusted person, thank goodness he's got this stupid toy to do his talking for him.  Uh huh.

"Please tell us you do more with your Note than this loser.  Because we'd really like some better ad ideas than this.  Less creepy ones, too."

Thursday, February 26, 2015

"Ok, time to come clean- I didn't exactly get this from a rusty nail...."

"I remember when I used to get away with telling The Little Woman that I picked up Hepatitis C by touching someone else's razor, or by picking up the wrong knife.  She was really sympathetic back then, and gave me a speech about 'for better or for worse' or some such bilge.  That was really adorable.  Those were good times."

"Then some bastard invented the internet, and suddenly Clueless Suzy could do her own research about Hepatitis C, and she found out that more than 75% of infections come from intravenous drug use and unprotected sexual intercourse.  Suddenly she felt betrayed by me, and I felt betrayed by The Google. "

"It didn't even help that Hepatitis C now has a cool hip name- HepC.  Come on, who wouldn't want a little HepC?  Hmmm...turns out the answer is 'my wife,' who thought she was safe as long as she didn't touch my razor or any knives I had been handling after suffering a cut.  Ooops, sorry honey."

"And sorry I didn't tell you about what me and my boys did after the big meeting during our business trip to Vegas back in '98.  But once my doctor cleared me for HIV and Syphilis, I thought I was in the clear- um, I mean, I thought WE were in the clear.  Hey, at least I'm not shooting up anymore, that's something, right honey?  Honey?"

Personally?  I'd take action by dumping this guy in exchange for a nice divorce settlement.  You can take that "For Better or For Worse" bit only so far.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Another Golden Corral Ad (hey, it's been a while!)

What's the difference between a Seafood Restaurant and Golden Corral?

1.  At a seafood restaurant, the customers tend to be wearing clothes which suggest that they are doing something special.  Clothes like pants with zippers and shirts with buttons.  At Golden Corral you are far more likely to see customers wearing sweatpants and pullovers.  You should be grateful.  Believe me.

2.  At a seafood restaurant, you tell the waiter what you want and he brings it to you on a plate.  You eat what's on your plate and then the dinner experience is over.  At Golden Corral you bring your plate up to a trough with a sneeze guard, stand behind a few drooling yokels as they pick over the Fried Everything, and eventually load up with more food than you really want to eat, figuring you'll lose at least ten percent of it on the way back to your booth.

3.  At a seafood restaurant, you're likely to get food that used to swim around in the water.  At Golden Corral, whatever you end up eating spent a lot more time swimming around in grease and bread crumbs than H20.  In fact, at Golden Corral you'll be eating a lot more grease and bread crumbs than seafood.  And don't forget to save room for macaroons, the Chocolate Wonderfall and the Cotton Candy Machine!

4.  And oh yeah, there's the whole price thing.  At a decent seafood restaurant, you'll get pretty good food at a pretty high price.  I hope you don't react like these awful hicks.  At Golden Corral, you'll get really crappy food at a price which seems pretty low, unless you take the time to reflect on the quality of the junk you just ate, at which point you'll realize the price is pretty high.   But if you are a Golden Corral customer it's all about quantity not quality anyway, so no worries.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Stupid Shortcuts come in Kosher!

"I want to keep 'regular' and promote digestive health and feel great, but not if it's going to take any actual thought or planning which might distract me from downloading stuff to my cell phone or dancing through a field or something!  To heck with that- I don't have time to eat a decent, balanced diet including actual fiber!  Just give me this junk I can pour into water and be on my way!"

"Benefiber:  When you're too old for Pediasure, too young for Metamucil, and too stupid and lazy to actually take care of yourself!"

(I have no idea why I went for the Israeli version.  Maybe it was the "yum yum" at the end.)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Dove joins the "make our next horrible commercial for us" parade

Fifty-seven seconds of guys acting like Human Beings with their kids to get to the punchline "Real Men Show They Are Strong By Being With Their Kids," or something like that.   Followed by two punchlines:

1.  This is an ad for soap.  I don't have any idea what soap has to do with any of this, unless Dove is trying to tell us that if we REALLY want to be strong for our kids, Hey We'd Better Use This Soap.  Actually, I think it's more like "the last fifty-seven seconds was brought to you by this stupid soap company, who'd a thunk it?"

2.  This is also an ad for exhibitionist jackasses who live to make videos of themselves doing perfectly ordinary (and perfectly boring) things and posting them in public places on the odd theory that anyone outside their house could give a flying damn.  Dove is actually inviting guys to take videos of interaction between themselves and their kids and send them to they can be included in a compilation that will be used to torture the next round of Gitmo detainees, or what?  I mean, seriously- I thought fifty-seven seconds of this dreck produced by actual cameramen with high-grade equipment was painful.  Hours of additional material posted using shaky iPhones?  Good lord, I think I'd rather be waterboarded.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

New Name, Still Crap

I guess they got the idea from Kentucky Fried Chicken- every few decades, a junk chain "restaurant" should change it's name or logo-- not so much that it's loyal customers don't recognize it as the same hole-in-the-strip-mall they've been buying their artery-clogging junk since they were kids, but enough to convince a new generation that they are different from that greasy carb factory they wouldn't be caught dead in except Hey Look The Name Is Different.

Good luck with this, Dominos.  I see you've got yourself an army of paid shills to pimp the new name in the YouTube comment section.  But I'm still not going to be laying down money to buy your mass-produced poison, be it pizza, pasta or whatever crud you're peddling at 7-11 prices this week.

Oh, and the dramatic music?  Yeah, hate to break it to you, but you changing your name just isn't that big a deal to anyone with anything resembling a life.  Which means it probably is a big deal to most of your regulars.  I'm sure they'll adjust, though- they got through the transition to KFC without too much trauma, after all.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Progressive's Name Your Own Way You'd Like To Be Shafted Ad

By coincidence, I have always looked upon Flo's Progressive commercials as great candidates for a toxic waste dump....

"So, with Progressive, I can name my own price?"

"You betcha!  We don't have price tags here!  Just tell us what you want to pay, and we'll create a policy that matches your budget!"

"Ok- I want to pay $100 a month."

"Sounds great!  At that level of coverage, there's no deductable, and we provide a rental car free of charge for up to two weeks while your car is repaired or, if totalled, while you pick out a new car one model year younger than the one that you trashed."

"Actually, $100 is a bit much.  I want to pay $50 a month."

"Sounds good!  At that level of coverage, there's a $500 deductable and we provide a rental car for an additional $10 a day for up to a week, after which it's totally on your own dime.  And if your car is totalled we'll hook you up with a new car of the same make and model of the one you lost."

"Actually, I'd kind of like to pay $15 a month.  You said I could set my own price, and that's what I'd like to pay."

"Sounds like a plan!  At that level of coverage, there's a $2000 deductable.  We suggest you hitch to the emergency room because the ambulance ride isn't covered, and you take care of your own rental!  If your car is totalled, we'll hook you up with a 1981 Renault LeCar and cancel your policy!"

As for the guy getting scrubbed at the end of this ad- hell, I feel dirty every time I watch one of these stupid things.  Being in one?  I totally get what he's going through.

Monday, February 16, 2015

What I'd Appreciate right now

1.  A sudden terrorist attack centered at this AT&T store, focused on these two people.

2.  A meteor strike at the same place, at the same time, just in case the terrorists miss.

3.  AT&T actually hiring writers to make their ads, rather than handing crayons to monkeys and then just throwing up on the screen whatever the monkeys came up with inside of twenty minutes.

Barring any of that, I really, really appreciate my mute button every time this putrid, steaming pile of absolutely nothing shows up on my television.  I do continue to think that this girl is very cute.  But she's just as cute when I can't hear her spewing noxious, vapid dialogue that I'm pretty sure actually kills brain cells with it's toxic danger-level of Dumb.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Here's a better idea for a Budweiser Commercial which will never be adopted

Budweiser is really good at laying on the manipulative tripe, and always has been.  Dogs and twangy music are especially good devices, because most people are slack-jawed, overly sentimental morons who respond to such cues like Pavlov's dogs to his bell.  "Sad"- looking dog, rain, cardboard box, Deeply Concerned Owner (oh, excuse me, not owner- FRIEND)= You Must Care About All This Crap.

I admit that I didn't watch this ad during the actual Superbowl, because I mute the commercials (I know that's heresy to some people, because I hear it on the Monday after every one- "you didn't watch the commercials?  That's the BEST PART!")  But in my free time I plan to go through each one on YouTube and a majority are likely to get their own posts.  I'll also admit that I couldn't get through this entire ad, because it made my teeth ache with it's sickly-sweet glurge.  But I'm going to take a wild guess that in the end, a perfectly healthy, immaculately groomed puppy somehow makes it back to it's careless-- excuse me, "caring"- um, "family."  And that I'm really, really supposed to care.

Hey, Budweiser?  How about giving us some commercials that, oh, I don't know, have something to do with your BEER?  Maybe "drink Budweiser, because it's cheap and if you drink enough of it, you may actually manage to forget that you can't afford to drink anything better than Budweiser."  Or how about "Budweiser- drink it and drive, and chances are you'll eventually run over a dog as cute as this one."

Yeah, not a chance.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

This isn't "Hunting." It's "Ambushing"

Where I grew up, boys hunted.  It's just something we started doing when we reached a certain age.  When Freshman year in high school rolled around, you took a hunting safety course sponsored by the NRA, you went to the range to take your test, and you got your hunting license.  Not some boys.  All boys.  A lot of girls, too.

And when deer season came around, we went to the pancake breakfasts at 5 AM, headed out into the woods before the sun rose, shivered, peered into the icy fog, and walked.  We walked quietly, trying not to make too much noise on the frosty leaves and grass, but we walked.

Some hunters used tree stands.  I never liked them- first, I always thought it was too cold to sit perched up in a tree, twenty feet or more above the ground, for hour after hour.  Second, I could never equate just waiting around for a deer to pick the wrong clearing to wander into with "hunting." Hunting had to mean walking, or it wasn't hunting.  Not to me.

In all the years I engaged in this annual ritual, I never once fired a gun at an actual deer.  Not because I got cold feet or was succumbed to a nagging concience; I just never saw a deer while hunting.  Neither did anyone I ever hunted with.  Maybe it was me.   When I was fifteen, I shot a huge raccoon out of a tree (my best friend's father, a brilliant taxidermist, turned it into a rug for me.)  That was the only animal I ever managed to kill while hunting.

Now, to this commercial- what these people are doing with their fake hay bale makes me rethink the whole tree stand issue.  Hey, "hunters"- this isn't freaking Vietnam.  If a deer sees you before you see it, it's going to run away, not kill you.  If you bag your deer by hiding inside one of these things, you arent' a hunter- at best, you are a trapper.  I put you one very small step above the scumbags who put out salt licks to bait their prey.  If you are in the market for a little house you can set up in the woods and sit in until a large animal comes close enough, do real hunters a favor and just stay on your couch and drink beer in front of the tv.  Because you are giving them* a bad name.

*I haven't hunted in 30 years, not because I have any moral objection to it, but because it's not an especially safe or popular activity here in suburbia.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Point of Personal Privilege: My Credit Union

Ok, first off- this is not my credit union.  I couldn't find a commercial for mine, probably because it's run by the Actual Federal Government and it doesn't need to make commercials to attract customers.  But this commercial was stupid and annoying enough* to make it worthy of my blog, so...

Second, let me say that I generally like my credit union.  They have always been very good to me, quick to respond to questions, etc.  I'm a bit irritated that they shut down pretty much all of their suburban branches and I have to take a train to use the "most convenient" branch, and it has really crappy hours and I have to go through a metal detector to get in....but heck, I've been a member since 1985 and I really don't like change so....

But two weeks ago, my credit union made a mistake.  Ok, things happen, and they fixed it quickly.  That's not the problem.  My problem is what happened next- a comedy of stupid exposing an over-reliance on computer-generated mail.

Here's what happened- I tried to use my debit card and it was rejected.  So I went online and checked my account- and found that it was overdrawn....because for some reason, my credit union had sent Verizon $536 I didn't owe and that Verizon didn't ask for.

I called the credit union and was quickly emailed a "Non-Authorization of Funds" form to fill out and send back, and within two hours the problem was rectified and the money returned to my account.  I didn't get an apology, but at the time that didn't really matter to me.  Mistake made, mistake fixed.  No problem.

Oh, but wait- a few days later, I got a form letter in snail mail from the Credit Union which informed me that my account had overdrawn, that the "bill" generating the overdraft had been paid, and that I was being charged a $28 Member Privilege Fee (this had also quickly been returned, days earlier, when the mistake had been fixed.)  Meh, no big deal I figured- these things are automatically generated and sent, whatever.

The next day, I got another form letter- "Your account is overdrawn by this amount, please remit to keep your account in good standing."  Again, I know these letters are generated and sent automatically, but now I'm getting a little irritated.  The Credit Union made a mistake, and fixed it.  I didn't ask for an apology, but now I'm thinking I would have liked that- especially if I was going to get "you've been a bad boy, send us money" notices instead.

Today I got one more letter- "The United States Credit Union is committed to your financial well-being and we would like to help you avoid these costly fees in the future."  Um, how?  By disciplining the person who screwed up my account?  That would be ok- but why tell me?

I mean, come on- what's next, credit union- are you going to send me a Helpful, Informative list of Financial Peace University seminars in my neighborhood?

And now I want an apology- not so much for the mistake (which would have been more than mildly annoying if I had been on vacation,) but for the daily "our computer assumes you did something wrong so here's another politely condescending missive" letters.  So I'll be calling on Monday and asking for one- and for the address of a person I can send at least three "we noticed you screwed up a customer's bank account" letters to.  Wish me luck.

*Even the YouTube glue-sniffers hate this commercial.   Just check out the comments.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Sorry- to me, you'll always be the guy riding the CGI wave in "Die Another Day"

In 1986, Roger Moore (mercifully) retired as the third man to play James Bond on the big screen.  People my age remember that Moore stayed in the role longer than any other actor- 12 years and 7 films- and probably walked away at least two films and six years too late.  He was fifty-eight years old when the god-awful A View To A Kill was released in 1985, and man did he look it.

See that sunset, Mr. Moore?  Have a nice ride into it.  Better late than never.  Take Tanya Roberts with you.

In 1994, Timothy Dalton- an actual, Royal Shakespeare Theater-trained actor, got sick of waiting around for United Artists to get it's financial house in order and decided to give up the role of James Bond after only two films.  Anyone who has ever talked film with me knows that I consider Dalton the very best actor to ever play the Bond role, and believe that his two contributions to the Bond library were real highlights in the series.   Dalton brought a darker, edgier, more realistic portrayal to Fleming's iconic character, and his scripts were down-to-Earth spy stories which were a welcome change after a dozen years of Mad Billionaires Who Want To Kill Everyone On Earth Being Thwarted As Soon As Roger Moore Can Be Bothered To Stop Having Sex With Everyone schlock.
But Dalton is also one of the most criminally underappreciated actors ever, so American audiences didn't exactly react with a collective moan at the news that Dalton would not be returning for a third film.

Pierce Brosnan played James Bond in four films which were released in the years 1995-2002.  The first one was ok.  The second one was a ripoff of You Only Live Twice AND The Spy Who Loved Me.  The third one featured Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist.  The fourth one was dominated by Halle Berry, CGI, and the worst title song in the entire series until it was beaten out by "Another Way To Die" in 2008.  Moore's reign as Bond featured one car chase after another- Brosnan's was a wall of noise created by endless machine gun fire and explosions- action set pieces in which Waiter In a Tux Brosnan might as well have been just another stuntman.  Oh, and he couldn't act his way out of a paper bag.

In 2005, Brosnan became the very first Bond actor to actually be fired from the role.  He didn't handle it very well, tossing out whiny, peevish, bitter and juvenile snark at his former benefactors.  Daniel Craig has done very well with the job (except for Quantum of Solace,) pretty much silencing the critics who thought that he couldn't follow Pierce.

Last year, Brosnan attempted an action hero comeback in The November Man.  Oh, you missed it?  So did pretty much everyone else.

See that sunset, Mr. Brosnan?  Have a nice ride into it.  Here's a crappy car you can use.  Take Halle Berry and the ice palace and CGI tidal wave and Madonna with you.   And good luck with that November Man sequel.  I'll try not to blink and miss it like I did the original.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Jeeesh....this isn't very classy, is it?

Tom Sims, Snowboarding innovator and entrepreneur, has been dead for two years.  Maybe his family, not satisfied with their take in the will, decided to sell old home movies for a few bucks?  However this car company got them, this just doesn't feel right at all.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Hey look, a reason to wake up tomorrow

I still think that cell phones represent the ultimate debasement of technology, but e-cigarettes have to be running a close second.   Check out this ad- we've reached a new Renaissance here, folks.  Tomorrow is going to be great- because now you can stick this new thing in your pathetic addicted mouth and suck away on something that Isn't Exactly A Cigarette but you can bet contains all kinds of harmful junk our wonderful FDA will reveal to us in another generation or two- when e-cig addicts can be counted in the millions, of course.

Or, you could just see your doctor and take steps to quit your stupid, juvenile, disgusting, life-shortening and healthcare cost-inflating habit.  Morons.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Isn't the tagline "Do More" the ultimate in false advertising?

First, I don't want to be mean- but whatever that squealing weird thing is sitting next to the guy on the couch, man it's annoying.  I mean, I guess it's a female of the human species, but what the hell?  Is she eight, or fourteen, or thirty?  What the hell is going on with her face and her voice?  This is beyond horrifying.

Ok, now on to the rest of this ad- naturally, it takes place in a virtual palace of a living room, but that's just par for the course in TV land.  That's not my major issue- I could create an entire blog dedicated to the unrealistically massive houses everyone in commercials seems to occupy.  No, it's more the guy's attitude- that he's doing Whatever The Hell That Is some kind of favor by giving her the opportunity to talk, text, tweet, download all she wants without limits because Hey After All That's What Life Is For, Right?

I really think that the message of this ad is supposed to be "this is what an awesome parent does"* I think it's more like "this is what an idiot who has no interest in being a parent but who wants his offspring to leave him alone" does.  Since when is feeding a loved one's addiction a good thing?  Oh yeah- when the addiction is a cell phone and can be fed with Unlimited Data Plan deals.

Again- can someone PLEASE explain to me why this is attractive to anyone?  I'd especially like to hear from parents- why is this a good idea?  Are you people all insane, or what?

*If one is the parent of a freakish adult/child hybrid thing, perhaps? Seriously, What IS that?

Friday, February 6, 2015

A new triumph in marketing- Viruses you actually have to order and have shipped to your home via snail mail!

Ok, I'll admit two things straight out- first, that when I first saw this commercial, I was sure that it was a brilliantly done gag.  I mean, come on- there are a thousand "download this thing which will quickly convince you that your computer is about to explode it has so many viruses, and it will replace those viruses with OUR viruses" services- MyCleanPC, PCMatic, MyFasterPC, etc. (which may or may not be the same product under different names.)  Who would actually respond to a slow internet connection by ordering this device and then waiting for it to show up in the mail?  Oh, right- really old people who like to be ripped off by operators instead of impersonal buttons and who find the idea of "downloading" really confusing and frightening.

Second- I can't find any complaints about this particular device, which seems to be nothing more than a Magic USB* which does exactly what the downloadable things do....without installing viruses and cookies which can't be removed ever?  Maybe it's because it's a new thing that nobody has purchased and been screwed by yet?  Maybe it's legit?  (I kind of seriously doubt this, because if it IS legit, it seems to me that it would be a huge seller at Best Buy or any number of stores that sell computers- heck, Dell could make a bundle selling them off their site....)

*Why didn't they just call it MagicUSB?  Old people love Magic- check out the popularity of Copper Bracelets and Angel Coins.  Maybe it's the USB part?  Then just call it Magic Thing You Plug Into The Side Of The Computer.  Gotta know your audience.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Can someone please beat the H&R Block guy to death with his own unjustified smug?

I really don't want to see this creep on my television any more.  Several years of "come and get your money" is more than enough for me, really.

I wonder how many people who watch these commercials realize that when you get a refund, it means you overpaid, not that you won some f--ing lottery or that every spring the government decides to hand out wads of cash to those smart enough to hire H&R Block to file for them.  If this jackass with his stupid bow tie was honest, he'd be telling us to set up our deductions correctly so we got our money every paycheck, not once a year.  Instead it's "you've got a billion dollars waiting for you, America, so come and get it before Santa's magic sack is empty."  Ugh.

Oh, and the "your money is calling to you" bit?  Gross.  It's money.  It can buy stuff, it can buy people, it can buy momentary pleasure.  If it could buy happiness, we'd make even less than we do now, because those who possess it would hoard it and call us unworthy of it ( I mean, even more than they do now.)    It's not singing some damn siren song to anyone but the most disgustingly shallow knobs out there, and I don't give a damn about them.

Meanwhile, ETS?  Any time you want to send that W-2 would be just great, because I do have a small refund coming.  It's not a billion dollars, but I won't sneeze at it, either.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Oh Seriously- Bite Me, CTU

Look, I've got nothing against Online Courses and Online Colleges.  I get that they offer some level of educational opportunity for people who can't afford "the traditional route," or who already hold down jobs and simply do not have the time for classes on campus.  Fine.

But pompous schmuck narrator?  Don't tell me I was some kind of Go Along With The Crowd zombie because I went to a traditional college for four years and sat in classrooms and made friends and had actual face to face conversations with professors and went out for beers afterwards to discuss class material and plan study strategies.*  Don't try to convince me that I was a sheep who let "the system" get "control" over my educational experience and "run" the four years I spent at that school.  Because you are just coming off as a jealous punk jackass who is trying to make a virtue out of being unable to deal with the discipline required by a structured curriculum.  I don't admire you one bit.

Run away, run away, lock yourself in your bedroom and set your own schedule, if you've got the skills to do it and stick with it.  When you apply for your "career" (I suggest you ditch the attitude first) good luck competing with the people who have already demonstrated a willingness to adapt to a challenging educational structure they couldn't mold in their own comfy image.  Be ready to explain to the guy who is interviewing you about how "traditional" college "wasn't for you" because you like to "work at your own pace."  That will go over great, Mr. Rebel.

So good luck "at" Colorado Technical  I'm sure it will leave you with warm memories of all the chat rooms and the time Pikertroll67 made that awesome point and stumped the "professor."  And that other time you OD'd on Red Bull when you realized that all the school's flexibility couldn't get you out of attaching that essay and getting it into the class's Shared File by midnight.  Like Animal House and Back to School wrapped into one, wasn't it, you scruffy pompous loser?

*I spent every other Thursday night my Sophomore year at my girlfriend's house studying for the bimonthly Anthropology test.  Yeah, that would have been much more fun online.   But we had to deal with 1980s technology, so what could we do?

Think "tuck your baby in from a phone booth" sounds inviting? YOU WILL

Think that you'll ever be permanently attached to your work, on call 24/7 via your "cellular phone?"  YOU WILL.

Think that you'll ever carry a television around wherever you go and watch it on trains, planes, while in your car, while in the park, and all of the other places you used to go to do interesting things which involved exercise?  YOU WILL.

Think that you'll ever sit in restaurants and stare at a little screen instead of having a conversation with the person you're "having lunch with?"  YOU WILL.

Think that your children will ever demand- and receive- data plans which allow them to become texting, downloading, viewing morons like their parents?  THEY WILL.

Think that you'll ever forget how to have actual face-to-face meetings with actual human beings because you've built an electronic cocoon around yourself and have become a socially isolated zombie?  YOU WILL.

Think that you'll ever become addicted to the idea of recording every television show and then spending entire weekends "catching up" on "your favorites" instead of doing all those things you currently do with weekends- like meet up with friends, go to plays and movies and museums, or just read?  YOU WILL.

Think that you'll ever spend a huge chunk of the only life you'll ever have playing video games involving cartoon birds and candy and exploding skeletons and wizards, even though you're an adult? YOU WILL.

It's 1993, and AT&T is giving us a grim vision of our electronics-dominated future.  If only we had played closer attention and remembered that no matter how helpful technology looks at its introduction, it always gets twisted and corroded by Wall Street and Capitalism.  Meh, it probably would not have mattered.

Oh, and BTW- what the hell is a "fax?"