Saturday, April 29, 2017

Great American road trip: Las Vegas to national parks and back again

For spring break vacation, my family and I flew to Las Vegas and took a road trip to the nearby national parks. We had a great time.
In Las Vegas, we saw the Britney Spears show “Piece of Me” at the Axis Theater at Planet Hollywood. It was a blast. (I previously saw her Vegas show in January 2016 while on a business trip. Since then, she rejiggered the production, adding her latest hit songs – “Make Me …” and “Slumber Party” – to the lineup.)
We also took in the touristy Vegas sites, including a drive on the Strip to check out the outrageous architecture and the ginormous hotels. Of course, we stopped for photos at the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada” sign.
We took a stroll on the Strip to catch the fountains and the botanic gardens at the Bellagio, the volcano at the Mirage and do some people watching.
On Saturday afternoon, I took my son to the National Atomic Testing Museum, while my wife took my daughter on the Linq Ferris wheel.
We arrived in Las Vegas on a Friday evening and departed on Sunday morning for our epic road trip. For the rest of the week, we didn’t stay in the same hotel for more than one night.


On our way to Grand Canyon National Park, we stopped to tour the Hoover Dam and later to visit Alpacas of the Southwest in Kingman, Ariz. My kids got a bigger kick out of seeing the cute alpacas than learning about the history and engineering of the Hoover Dam.
We stayed Sunday night at a hotel in in Tusayan, Ariz., a town just outside the entrance to Grand Canyon. (As we learned from voice actor Peter Coyote in the orientation film at the park’s visitor’s center, it is called Grand Canyon not “the” Grand Canyon.)
We spent the day walking around the South Rim, taking photos of the gorgeous views and learning about the geology and history of the park. We didn’t hike into the canyon. It wasn’t that kind of vacation. We stayed a little longer than Clark Griswold in “National Lampoon’s Vacation” (1983).
Next, we drove to Page, Ariz., for an Antelope Valley slot canyon tour on Navajo land on Tuesday. That same day we hiked to nearby the overlook of Horseshoe Bend, a canyon carved by the Colorado River.
Then it was back to the car and the drive to southern Utah. We spent the night in Kanab, Utah, and on Wednesday visited Bryce Canyon National Park. At Bryce we hiked into the canyon and got up close to the park’s famous rock formations called hoodoos.
We drove to Springdale, Utah, that night, which is just outside the east entrance to Zion National Park.
On Thursday, we spent the day hiking in Zion and enjoying in the otherworldly beauty of the landscape. The park was crowded for Easter weekend and so were the buses to travel around the park. We took three nice hikes at various trails in the park including the remote northwest corner of the park.
We drove back to Las Vegas on Friday and flew home on Saturday morning.
On our final night in Las Vegas, we had dinner at the Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill at Caesars Palace. The meal was incredible. My son is a big fan of the volatile British chef so it was worth it splurge on a good meal.




Saturday, April 22, 2017

Trump magazine covers update: Three months on the job

U.S. President Donald Trump has been in office for three months and news coverage of the controversial figure by the media is little changed.
Magazine covers since his inauguration have depicted Trump as a baby, a bull in a china shop, and a monster. He gets the harshest coverage from the international press.
What follows are the latest magazine covers about the Trump presidency.










Thursday, April 6, 2017

Clickbait funnies

I’ve written about my hatred for clickbait for quite some time. I’m not alone in my negative feelings about shady tactics to drive internet traffic.
Online artists and comedians have posted a lot of funny memes on the subject. What follows are some of my favorites.









Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Lying clickbait: Same old tricks

Purveyors of lying clickbait like Taboola and Revcontent haven’t given up their deceptive practices.
What follows are some recent examples.

Taboola recently posted a sponsored article titled “Upcoming 2017 movies you can’t miss.” One of those big movies is “The Mummy” starring Tom Cruise. Unfortunately, the Taboola clickbait used a photo of Patricia Velasquez from the 1999 movie of the same name.
Maybe they grabbed the wrong photo. More likely they wanted to pique people's interests with a picture of a smoking-hot babe.



Another Taboola article titled “These Woodstock photos are pretty unnerving” used a photo from 2015, not 1969. The picture is of models Kendall Jenner and Hailey Baldwin at the Coachella music festival.



Revcontent loves to post articles about dead celebrities using photos of living celebrities. Here are two recent examples featuring Kirstie Alley and “Brady Bunch” star Maureen McCormick.


A clickbait article on Yahoo titled “Tiger Woods’ex-wife finally broke her silence” used photos of Woods and ex-girlfriend Lindsey Vonn, not his ex-wife Elin Nordegren.That's either sloppy or they're taking advantage of the curiosity gap.


Finally, another Yahoo sponsored clickbait article titled “This child star went from dorky to supermodel” used a photo of singer, songwriter and Instagram model Jean Watts. She was never a child star.



Thursday, March 30, 2017

Clickbait cliche: Photos that almost broke the internet

If you believe lying clickbait, the internet has come close to being broken many times by photos of smoking-hot women.
Content promotion services use some come-on lines so often they’ve become cliches. Among the most common clickbait cliches are articles that promise to show “photos that almost broke the internet.”
What follows are three examples of this cliche from Taboola and one from Yahoo.

One Taboola article titled “20 perfectly timed photos that almost broke the internet” featured a photo of cheerleader MaCall Manor. (See article about Manor by Busted Coverage.)



Another Taboola post, this one titled “25+ perfectly timed photos that almost broke the internet,” used a photo of reality TV star Luisa Zissman from BBC’s “The Apprentice.” (See article by the Express.)



Yet another Taboola post with the same headline used a photo of Cristina Blackwell from when she was a weathercaster for “Despierta America,” a morning show on Spanish-language channel Univision. She is now a host of “Great Day SA” on KENS-TV in San Antonio.



Finally, a sponsored post on Yahoo titled “She almost took down the internet with this move” used a photo of Finnish freestyle swimmer Hanna-Maria Seppala.



Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Clickbait favorites: Sexy female celebrities for sponsored articles

Clickbait purveyors often use unknown or little known attractive women to promote their articles. But sometimes they use celebrities past and present.
I’ve previously reported about the fixation content marketing services have with Brigitte Bardot. She was a ridiculously beautiful woman when she was making movies from 1952 to 1973.
Her photos create curiosity among young male web surfers who likely aren’t familiar with the French sex kitten. (See also “Lying clickbait: Brigitte Bardot photos were never ‘classified’” and “Lying clickbait: Pretty women as the honeypot.”)



The same holds for actress Jane Fonda. She was a striking beauty in her youth and millennials are probably unfamiliar with her.
She also was a controversial figure during the Vietnam War for showing support for the enemy of the U.S. She earned the nickname “Hanoi Jane” after visiting the North Vietnamese troops.




Another popular celebrity for clickbait articles is actress Milana Vayntrub, best known for her AT&T commercials, where she plays an AT&T store employee. (See photo at top.)



Other celebrities used in recent clickbait promos have included models Kate Upton and Gigi Hadid.
A photo of Upton was used for a clickbait article titled “The cameraman just kept recording.” It’s a still image from a sexy Easter video that Upton did for Love magazine. (See it here on YouTube.)



The picture of Hadid was used to promote an article titled “Photos from jaw-dropping actresses from the past.” However, Hadid is a model, not an actress, and she’s very much of the present.



Sometimes the celebrities are of the more obscure variety.
A Taboola sponsored article titled “33 eye-popping photos left out of history books” included a photo of Playboy magazine’s 1969 Playmate of the Year, Connie Kreski. Kreski is pictured with a pink Ford Shelby Mustang GT-500 that she received as one of her gifts for winning the title.



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