Sunday, December 27, 2009

Just when you thought cell phone owners couldn't be more obnoxious

We're in the breakroom, and one employee who really ought to get his ass back to work announces to his coworkers "you really got to check out this new Avatar trailer!"

He then proceeds to project the trailer from his phone on to the break room wall. So now everyone in the break room can share this guy's pathetic, juvenile obsessions with A) his phone, B) Avatar, or C) All of the Above.

Whether they like it or not.

"There's no such thing as a Projector Phone" one of the retarded coworkers tells the guy who has just demonstrated the use of his projector phone. I have no response to this, except to say that the ensuing dialogue, which can be boiled down to "yes there is, no there isn't, yes there is" is worthy of any twenty-seconds-yet-still-way-too-long McDonald's ad in terms of intelligence level.

The absolute horror represented by this new phone is, I'll admit, well demonstrated by the commercial. Remember a few years ago, when if someone asked you "did you see that cool new trailer?" you could say "no" and that would be the end of it? Remember last year, when if someone asked you "did you see that cool new Wii commercial?" you could say "no," and if the idiot then offered to bring it up for you on his phone, you could say "pass," leaving other idiots to gather around and watch the commercial on his little glowing screen? Well, those days are gone- now if you say "no thank you" to anything anyone wants to show you on his phone, you'll have to see it anyway, because seconds later it will be projected onto the nearest wall, complete with LOUD music and dialogue.

Get ready to be forced to watch and listen to commercials, music videos, trailers, and entire television shows and movies projected on to the walls of buses, train cars, hallways-- hell, it's only a matter of time before you find yourself sitting in a theatre trying to watch a movie, and seeing another one being projected on the floor of the center aisle by some bored and brain-dead asshole who long ago decided to follow the lead of the tv commercials and simply stop being at all concerned about the needs and desires of the other carbon-based life forms on the planet.

The makers of the LG Projector Phone have had quite enough of us "I don't need a constant barrage of 'information' and entertainment, and instant gratification isn't all it's cracked up to be" non-conformists. We will be assimilated. We don't care to view the latest trailer? Tough shit- there it is, shining on the wall five feet away. Try to look away- you are only going to encounter a competing commercial, being projected by someone else.

"You've got to check out this new Avatar trailer." Yes, I do. Because saying "no" is simply not an option any more. And to think that, just a few years ago, I thought that those horrible chirping Nextel Direct phones were the pinnacle of asshattery.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

I'd Celebrate the Appearence of a Napkin right about now

I'm way past getting pissed at the inevitable movie-fast food marketing tie-ins; I usually don't even notice them anymore, mainly because I don't eat fast food. But here's something that's always irritated me about commercials which try to convince us that eating a particular hamburger is just another way to enjoy the latest big-budget flick: it's the use of the word "Celebration" in reference to both experiences.

"Celebrate the film Avatar by eating a Big Mac..." Huh? I'm not a stockholder of the film company that produced this flick, which is apparently going to clear a billion dollars at the Box Office by this time next Thursday. I'm not the Producer or Director, and what is being put on film is not my vision, carried from studio to studio for twenty years before the funding could finally be put together. I didn't even spend three years reading whatever geeky Sci-fi magazines were used to build up interest in the film. So what am I "Celebrating?" Can't I just go see the damn movie without "Celebrating" it?

Here's another thing- two guys sitting in a movie theater, staring at the screen. One of them says "Since when can Mountains float?" and seconds later gasps in amazement at the action on the screen. Um, since they started making movies, dumbass. I wonder if this guy asked aloud "since when can people hover in mid-air?" while viewing The Matrix.

Here's a woman telling her friends "I've been waiting for this for a long time!" Is she talking about the movie, or a Big Mac? Who knows? Who cares? Here's a guy opening the cardboard container and gazing at his Big Mac on a bus. Ever used a municipal bus system that permitted eating on board? Me neither. What's this got to do with Avatar? Absolutely NOTHING.

But here's the worst part- we jump from a shot of a guy digging his fingernails into his seat while watching the film to another guy digging his fingernails into a Big Mac-- and then we get a lovely close-up of the latter taking a big bite out of his sandwich, leaving a glob of Special Sauce on the side of his mouth- just lovely.

This kind of crap really turns me off from going to movies at all (this, and seeing clueless asshats four rows down get bored with the film and flip open their cell phones halfway through.) I don't celebrate the opportunity to drop ten bucks to see a movie. Seeing movies doesn't make me want to stuff greasy, artery-hardening junk into my mouth. And watching people equate movies with junk food doesn't inspire me to partake of either.

(BTW, what is in these Big Macs anyway, which creates hallucinations that scenes from Avatar are taking place all around the consumer? In one commercial, a guy actually thinks he's being chased by a monster from the film after taking a bite of his sandwich. Again- there's no logical connection between the film and the food- no matter how many times I see these commercials, I am not going to hallucinate that I'm in the film if I ever eat a Big Mac.)

Please, MacDonalds, stop trying to glom on to the latest Hollywood hit- I can't imagine anything that has less to do with a Big Mac than Avatar. Stop trying to convince me that the release oa any particular film is something to be "celebrated." And stop showing people behaving like clueless airheads whose lives revolve around movies and junk food.

And please, hand that disgusting idiot in the final shot a napkin. Yuck.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

7-11 Needs to be Introduced to the Concept of Target Marketing

I'm listening to a Christmas story narrated by a wonderful actor with a wonderful voice, the late Edward Arnold, on XM Classics Channel 164. It's kind of a holiday tradition- I sit at the kitchen table and prepare review sheets and midterm exams while my mom bakes, and we both enjoy the old radio shows provided to us by XM/Sirius. Today, however, we are in for an unpleasant surprise:

It's a commercial break, but instead of the usual "Easy Credit" and "Work from Home" and "Pay off your debt in 15 minutes" schemes, we get an absolutely horrible, nerve-grating, two-minute rap about how incredible 7-11 is. As near as I can tell, the "story" of the rap "song" is how the "singer" wins over this hot new girl in town by taking her down to the local 7-11 and buying her coffee. That might be totally inaccurate, however, since I was more interested in turning the volume down than paying attention to the actual "lyrics."

I do know that the "song" ended with the "singer" uttering the words "I'll take my coffee with a serving of HER." Clever, no? Well, no. But it's downright brilliant compared to the geniuses who sold this pile of obnoxious drivel to XM/Sirius and agreed to have it run on a channel marketed almost exclusively to people over the age of 65. Good call, 7-11-- I'm sure that if one of your stores was operating within a reasonable distance from my parents' house (we have our own version of 7-11 up here, called Cumberland Farms) this commercial would have sent them rushing to buy coffee, slurpees and heat-lamp hot dogs. I'm sure that it's because they don't want to be reminded of their lack of a 7-11 franchise they'll be rushing to the radio to hit the mute button whenever this steaming pile of excrement comes on. And not because their ears are bleeding.

Seriously, what were you guys at 7-11 thinking? Commercials featuring rap on Classic Radio? Do you think that the makers of Depends Undergarments buy commercial time on Radio Disney? Just brilliant.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Kay Jewelers: Your Place for Creepy

A woman is standing by a huge window, staring out at the hurricane battering the favorite forest getaway of her husband and herself.

In response to a clash of lightning and thunder, this woman jumps into the arms of her husband. "I'm right here" he assures her.

Then he pulls out a little box and hands it to her- "and I always will be."

Sorry, but this totally creeps me out. First, this woman acts like a little girl, frightened of thunder and lightning at the age of roughly thirty. Second, what's with the two-days growth of beard on the husband's face? Did I miss the memo that ordered every American male to limit shaving to not more than twice a week? Seriously- when was the last time you saw a clean-shaven guy under the age of fifty in a commercial?

But I digress...

Third- the guy puts her into some kind of arm-lock that simply doesn't go well with his "..and I always will be." I get the sense that if she ever tries to leave, she's going to find herself living at the bottom of a well, putting the lotion in the bucket.

Was this your intention, Kay Jewelers? Every kiss begins with Kay, and ends with Obsession? It's not hard to see this lovely getaway weekend ending with a lot of "If I can't have you, no one can" screaming and an ocean of blood. I guess maybe that's because I'm not as much in the Holiday mood as the good people at Kay are. This is almost as bad as the "Love, Symbolized by a Knot" message in another ad. Yes, nothing more romantic than the message "we are bound together forever."

Unless you add "Or Else."

Sunday, December 20, 2009

War Is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength

"It's never been easier to save money, using your Bank of America Debit Card" we are told.

And here's a guy buying a cup of coffee at a Not-Starbucks, swiping his BOA Debit Card. "Every time you buy something with your card, we round up to the nearest dollar and automatically deposit the difference into your savings account."

Yep- so the more you spend with your Bank of America Debit Card, the more money you'll have. And while we are at it- the more fuel you add to the fire, the colder you'll get. The more you eat, the hungrier you'll get. And so on.

I keep waiting for the Queen of Hearts to show up, or even better, the Mad Hatter. Maybe Bank of America is planning a tie-in with Alice in Wonderland, coming to theatres in 2010. This Spend your way to Savings campaign would make a great topic for a conversation between Alice and the Hatter, wouldn't it?

Hatter: "The tea costs a shilling per cup."
Alice: "I haven't any money."
Hatter: "Why then, you must spend some. When you spend money, then you'll have money."
Alice: "How absurd! How can I spend what I don't have?"
Hatter: "Excuse me, I wasn't listening. My watch has stopped-there is too much butter in the works, and we must put the Dormouse into the pot."

Thanks for the free trip through the Looking-Glass, Bank of America. Now how about taking some of that bailout money we gave you and using it to lower your interest rates?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Audi One-Ups Cadillac's Sibling Rivalry Ad- Why Stop with the Immediate Family?

A guy stands on the lawn of his house, situated in some upscale suburban enclave where terms "Unemployment" and "Belt-Tightening" are clearly never mentioned aloud. As he looks around, he sees that all his neighbors are busy lugging their Christmas lights out of attics and two-car garages.

"Going to put some lights up?" he's asked by a male neighbor who is doing a pretty good imitation of Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation, festooned as he is with what looks to be about five miles of electrical cord and colorful lights. "Gets pretty competitive."

Yep- gets pretty competitive. So if there's anyone in this neighborhood who is worried about getting laid off in the coming weeks or months, or has watched his 401(k) tank and dreams of retirement fade, or has seen his health insurance premiums double because his kid has been diagnosed with juvenile arthritis, he'd better just suck it up and drive the family Suburban to the nearest Home Depot to stock up on plastic things that plug into walls. Because it's all about showing well for the neighbors around here, buddy.

(Oh, and God Fucking Forbid Guy on Lawn just might be-- gasp!--JEWISH!)

Guy on Lawn gives this a few seconds of thought, then allows himself a slight grin.

That night- everyone in the neighborhood is standing around staring at everyone else's ostentatious light display when the garage doors open at Guy Formerly on Lawn's house. Two 2010-model black Audis emerge, headlights blazing and engines purring. Sure enough, the entire fricking neighborhood gravitates to the driveway of Guy on Lawn, to stare lovingly at his $100,000 car collection.

Come on- how sick is this? It's bad enough that putting up Christmas lights- once an innocent celebration of the season- is being portrayed as some kind of contest, an opportunity to show up your neighbors (which one takes the season more seriously? Well, which one has the largest plastic reindeer and is burning up the most Wattage? Which one is making the meter spin fastest?) Now Audi ramps up the Hate quotient by suggesting that all your neighbors really want to see is who is most willing to spit in the face of the recession by spending them most on flashy cars. Just flip on those lights, and they'll gather like moths around a candle, because it's not about the celebration of a Holy Day, it's not even about enjoying pretty blinking lights and plastic santas. It's about Stuff. Lots and lots of Stuff. Expensive, Showy Stuff.

Well, Merry Fucking Christmas, Audi. Your attitude sucks. Your philosophy sucks. Your insensitivity toward the real suffering and anxiety millions of Americans are feeling about the future this holiday season sucks. And this commercial really, really sucks.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hubby is the Easily-Manipulated Dunce of the Family, Take 5,679

Wife hands her husband a list- "Oh, not the MALL!" he growns.

Wife offers a deal- "Ok, I'll do the shopping, you do the shipping."

Husband: "Shipping is a pain!" He grabs the shopping list and skips off to the car to hit the mall, thinking he's taken the easy task and plenty happy about it.

US Postal Worker comes up the walk with a package and reveals that while he's prohibited by federal law to open packages, he's perfectly free and willing to eavesdrop on private conversations: "You know, shipping is easy with the US Postal Service. We have boxes with one flat fee- if it fits, its ships."

"I know" smiles wife.

Groan. Of course you know. Just like you know that you married a dumbass you can con into doing the hard part of every chore imaginable. Because the guy you married

A) Doesn't watch television, so he has never seen any of these "If it fits, it ships" commercials.

B) Actually believes that shipping is such a "hassle" that he'd rather drive to the Mall, circle for twenty minutes looking for a parking space, go from store to store getting the items on the list, standing in one line after another with said items, cart everything back to the car (once he's found it) and haul it back to the old homestead- where it will need to be unloaded, of course- than address a bunch of boxes and carry them to the Post Office. Because shipping is a "hassle."

C) Is so predictable that it takes absolutely zero effort to manipulate him into doing what you want him to do,

D) won't remember until he's halfway to the Mall that if he had chosen "shipping," he would have had the afternoon off and to himself, since he can hardly do any shipping until you come back with the goodies.

The bottom line isn't the US Postal Service's convenient flat rates. It's the US Postal Service's willingness to use a flat, stale, cliche'd theme to sell it's services. Wife is the Smart One in the Family, Husband is the dumbass who can be tricked into doing pretty much anything in no time- been there, done that, bought the damn t-shirt already. Merry Christmas to you too, US Postal Service.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Oh Hell, Just Stay Where you are and I'll come get you, you helpless moron!

New I-Phone Commercial:

"Let's say you are on your phone, and your friend asks 'What time's the movie?'"

"You can tell him" (we see the owner of the phone- well, his hand, anyway- check the movie times on the I-Phone. Because there's an App for that. Of course.)

"Then let's say your friend asks "Where's the theatre?"

"You can show him" (I-Phone owner's hand presses a few buttons and sends a map to the theatre to his retarded, desperately needy friend.)

"Then let's say your friend asks "Want to go for Sushi afterwards?"

At this point, one wonders why the owner of this phone would want to spend any time at all with this pathetic child. But I guess he does- because he moves his finger around his lover--errr, phone-- until he can bring up a photo of a Sushi place. "Sure" he replies.

Sigh. Where to start? First- why didn't these "friends" figure out what time the movie was when they first planned to go? Oh, right- because doing that would have eliminated an excuse to use their fucking phones later on. Second- if the unseen friend's phone can receive a map from the I-Phone, why couldn't he have used it to find the damn theatre himself? Third- why does the owner of the I-Phone have to check out a photo of the Sushi place before deciding whether he wants to go out for Sushi after the film or not? Oh, right- because just like his friend, he can't move a god damned muscle without consulting his real best friend- the one with the back-lit panel and cool Apps.

Do we think that these two guys simply stayed at home, staring like frightened children out at the big bad scary world, before Apple started marketing phones that could provide the kind of information that used to be carefully hidden away on movie posters and in newspapers? Once these two guys meet at the theatre, how will they justify continuing to consult their phones instead of talking to eachother? Will the owner of the I-Phone be able to refrain from attempting to find a photo of the concession stand during the trailers? Is there any doubt that he'll be consulting the official site of one of the films advertised before the film he's actually there to see starts? Will these two idiots sit in different parts of the theatre so they can justify texting eachother (to confirm the Sushi date, etc.) before it's over?

So many questions. So little hope.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Let's Not Meet Again

Every Christmas, I take Amtrak from Washington DC to Vermont for the Holidays- it costs a fortune to fly up there, and the weather is too iffy for driving. I enjoy Amtrak for the most part, especially now that it's possible to plug in a laptop and watch films or play games to kill the time.

Unfortunately, not everyone on the train is capable of passing the time quietly. More and more often, I find myself distracted by people who are determined to use their travel to update pretty much everyone on the planet about what is going on with every fricking detail of their "lives"- and not by texting either. But by phoning. And phoning. And phoning.

Last year on the way up I sat across and several seats down from a middle-aged woman who called four different people over the span of two hours and regaled each with the story of how This Guy at Work keeps Stabbing her in the Back with the Boss. She used almost exactly the same words in each conversation, including the phrase "that's the society we live in, I guess." She also told everyone she called about the difficulties she was having with her digestive tract infection, and how she warned her family ahead of time that she wasn't going to be eating the Christmas Dinner they had planned, but was instead restricting herself to strawberries and yogurt.

By the time she was on the fourth telling, I was at the breaking point (so was the poor woman in the seat next to her, who was fidgeting and holding her head in her hands in bored despair.) I finally yelled across to her "We've HEARD this story already, it wasn't interesting the FIRST THREE TIMES!" The Middle-Aged yakker turned around sharply and barked "I don't give a shit!" (But within a few moments, she'd put her phone away, and it didn't come out again until she departed the train in Connecticut.) I got more than a few silent "thank yous" from the other people in the car.

Why am I telling this story? Because I think I know who this woman's name is now. Her name is Jen, and she's being celebrated in this most recent Comcast Commercial. We see a very animated woman with a cell phone glued to her skull blathering on and on about pretty much anything that pops into her otherwise empty head, while the narrator tells us "Here's Jen. She can take an hour to tell a five-minute story. But that's ok, because she has Unlimited Talk and Text from Comcast..."

Jen continues to yak about half a dozen unrelated subjects before pausing to say "Wait, where was I going with that?" Narrator: "It doesn't matter where you were going with that, Jen..."

No, it doesn't matter where you were going with that, Jen. I can only hope that you aren't going up North with that next week, or if you are, you aren't taking Amtrak. Because I had more of my fair share of your witless, clueless, selfish gabfest last Holiday Season. I don't want an update on your work situation, that guy who stabs you in the back, or your digestive tract issues which require your Strawberries and Yogurt diet. I don't give a flying damn about any of that, and my guess is, neither do my fellow passengers. Just because you CAN talk nonstop, doesn't mean it's always appropriate to do so.

Just the society we live in, I guess.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Best Buy's Pathetic Singing Ad, Part I

Frantic, frazzled-looking woman sees a group of blue-clad Best Buy employees standing in rows on the sidewalk outside the store. "Great, Experts!" she exclaims. "What do I get my Husband?"

(Ok, let's stop a moment. First of all, anyone who sees a blue Best Buy Shirt and thinks "experts" is seriously detached from reality. More like "Great, Underpaid, Undereducated Proles!" or, this time of year, "Great, Seasonal Employees who signed up to earn a few extra dollars and will be handed their pink slips on or around January Second!" Also- "What do I get my Husband? Seriously? You know so little about that guy you married that you need the advice of total strangers whose job it is to pimp for a big box store concerning the right gift for him? But I digress...)

Best Buy employees chant "Flat Screen TV, Flat Screen TV.." to the tune of "Jingle Bells." "He'll stare at it frozenly..."

(Let's stop again. "Flat Screen TV" I suppose is the Fill In The Blank Present for the Male in your House. Wonder why this idiot woman couldn't think that up herself, its so obvious! And what woman doesn't want to buy her man a gift that he will "stare at frozenly?" I mean, it's just so perfect!)

Best Buy employees conclude "He's gonna have a Cow!" And- God help us- one of them actually utters, "Moo." The guy hand-picked by the Ad Agency to say "moo" I hope is super-proud of his moment on TV. I also hope that his family, friends and neighbors assault him relentlessly with it. Because I'm not very nice, I guess.

"He's gonna have a Cow?" I'm old enough to remember when Bart Simpson used to say "Don't have a Cow, Man" all the time- he dropped his original catchphrase sometime in the early-90s. It means "Don't Get Upset." So the Experts are telling this woman that if she gets her husband a Flat Screen TV, he'll be upset? Total Fail, Best Buy. Next time, double check the script to make sure the "hip" language your actors use is both contemporary and accurate.

Better yet, stop trying to make money off of the sad "Christmas is the most agonizingly stressful, budget-rendering, pain in the ass time of the year, just tell me what to buy so I can get this misery over with" theme. It's depressing.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


These British Petroleum "Just regular folks talking about America's Energy needs" ads REALLY piss me off. We've got witless morons who seem to be actually trying to share some level of knowledge about energy, where it comes from, and how they are just so gosh-darn positive that America has it and just needs to exploit the living shit out of it, and everything will be just hunky dorky, at least for the next hundred years or so.

Easily Bought-off Everyday Joes tell us "We've got lots of energy needs, and lots of energy. We've got wind, we've got solar...."

Ok, now that the prissy solar and wind fairies have been thrown their bone, lets get down to brass tacks- "we've got Natural Gas, we've got a LOAD of Oil, and we've got it RIGHT HERE."

"We've got to get at it, we've got to use it."

"We've got the know-how, we've got the drive, we've got the technology..."

And in case you've forgotten in the last few seconds, we've got NATURAL GAS and OIL. Lots and lots of it. Just waiting to be sucked out of the ground with a straw and converted to fuel. That stuff about wind and solar? One worthless BP whore tells us that's all fine and all, but "sometimes it's not breezy, and sometimes, it's cloudy." Yeah, wind and solar are all well and good, but when it comes time to get your Land Behemouth to the mall, remember what it's really thirsty for- good old fossil fuels. Unlike the sun and the wind, it's always available- all we have to do is get at it. Sure, that means knocking down a few trees, but after all, this is all about "preserving America's lifestyle."

Natural Gas, we are told, is "twice as clean as coal." Gee, that's good to know. And how many more times cleaner than coal is wind and solar energy. Oh wait, I forgot- those are "unreliable" because "sometimes it's not breezy, and sometimes, it's cloudy." Guess that explains why the comparison is never made in any of these commercials.

I'd think the worst person in these ads is that jackass Should Not Have Been Allowed To Breed Mommy who gushes to her infant daughter "we've got a hundred years of natural gas in this country! Can you count to one hundred? One....two.....this may take a while!" Except that the guy who REALLY infuriates me is the Matter-of-Fact, This Is So Simple Just Drill the Shit out of the Planet Why Didn't We Think of This Before putrid jackass who simply shrugs his shoulders at us and says "Eureka, Baby!" as a light bulb appears above his empty skull. "Eureka, Baby?"

Can we get back to the eight-year olds rolling their eyes at us and telling us to check out for "information," already?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

So you can cuss out your Agent from pretty much Anywhere, huh?

1. Owen Wilson's brother is standing on a gigantic map of the United States, looking bored out of his mind (hey, we feel your pain, man) as he tosses postcards all over the map to "illustrate all the places covered by AT&T."

Here's the problem (well, I mean, here's the MAIN problem- there are plenty of problems in this commercial, including the stupid, "why the hell do I have an agent if crap gigs like this are all he can get me?" look which is apparently part of Wilson's "charm") with this stupid ad: Check out the addresses Owen Wilson's Brother is bleating: "New York, New York...Atlanta, Georgia....Madison, Wisconsin....Phoenix, Arizona.....Miami, Florida.....Seattle, Washington....Philadelphia, Pennsylvania....Tulsa, Oklahoma....."

Jesus, am I REALLY supposed to be impressed by the fact that AT&T offers service to the country's major population centers? Is there something about this awesome coverage that makes AT&T unique in any way? My bet is that Verizon offers coverage to Lincoln, Nebraska AND Indianapolis, Indiana, JUST LIKE AT&T DOES. So what's with this bragging?

Oh, but Verizon doesn't have Owen Wilson's brother chucking post cards around a huge map. I guess that has to count for something.

2. Owen Wilson's brother is yakking about how, with AT&T, you can surf the web while you continue to talk (this is called "multitasking," apparently. I prefer the term "retreating farther into your electronic womb.") "You can do this with Verizon, but you need two phones." Owen Wilson's brother then proceeds to hand a phone to a hapless choad who is trying to explain something to some idiot but somehow can't get that done unless he's online too.

A decade or so ago, a cell phone was a luxury that was kind of a nice convenience, but hardly anything you "needed." Now we've got commercials with people who seem incapable of crossing the street unless they can download a fucking map first. Until a few years ago, you couldn't access the internet on your phone. Now that you can, you MUST be able to do it ALL THE TIME, even when you are having a conversation with someone. I guess that's just "Progress."

(By the way, yes, I know the actor in these commercials is Luke Wilson. But let's be real. He's Owen Wilson's brother. Period. )

Nothing a Snow Cone and a trip to the Zoo won't smooth over

A guy and his clearly retarded girlfriend are sitting in an outdoor cafe, drinking Miller Lites. The girl has the prerequisite headache-inducing perkyness, the guy has the prerequisite two days of stubble on his face.

Perky girl immediately lets us know that this couple has long since run out of things to talk about: "Let's say me and your dog were hanging off a cliff, and you could only save one of us, who would it be?" The tone of her voice reminds of those little notes we used to pass each other in middle school- "Do You Like Me Check Yes or No?"

Guy: "Ummmm... YOU!"

Girl giggles. Not satisfied, she continues: "Me or your Mom?"

Guy: "Sorry, Mom!"

Girl (not satisfied with the fact that being this guy's sexual partner has elevated her in his eyes to a level somewhere above a dog and his mom) continues "Your Miller Lite?" Apparently, this person is so empty-headed that she can't think of anything else that might be important to her boyfriend- she's already mentioned his mom, and the dog that is sitting right there, what else is there? Well, he's drinking a Miller Lite- I'll compare my worth to THAT! (If the guy had replied "you, of course," would she then have asked "Me, or your shoes?" I suspect that if she had asked "me, or your Blackberry?" she would have gotten the same response she gets now, which is:


Girl throws silent fit by getting up and stomping off.

It would take several more paragraphs to analyze exactly how totally lacking in effort, creativity or logic this rank pile of steaming dreck is. What happened to make this girl so pathetically insecure that she has to create morbid scenarios involving people and things important to her boyfriend falling off cliffs? Did her last boyfriend let her plunge into the rocky surf below as he lunged for his bottle of Smirnoffs? Or did he just dump her when he realized that she had nothing to add to any conversation beyond hints that she needed to know that she was, by FAR, the most important thing in his life?

Why doesn't the guy just LIE and say "what, are you kidding? I can always get another Miller Lite. It would take me almost a whole week to find another woman of your quality out there."

I wouldn't know personally, because unlike the guy in this commercial, I don't date 13-year olds.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Few Quick Questions for Bret Favre

1. Are you at least the quarterback for both teams in your Red-blooded, All-American pickup games?

2. With all your millions, couldn't you have found a better place to bring your suck-ups and hangers-on ---err, I mean "friends"-- to play your pickup game than a muddy swamp? I mean, I'd think there'd be plenty of parks, schools etc. more than happy to provide you with a field...

3. Are Levis jeans part of the Official Uniform when you play these Just For Fun Because We Are Men and This is What Men Do games?

4. Is there some rule that when you play these games, no one on the defense may come within ten feet of you while you are setting up your passes? I mean, seriously- I know you are moving in slow motion here, but still, I never see any defender come even close to rushing you.

5. Does the Minnesota Vikings Head Office know that it's star quarterback is risking injury playing pickup games on muddy pasture land? I can't believe that your contract doesn't forbid this kind of activity.

Finally- do the suck-ups you pay to play football with you ever complain about the lack of running plays? I mean, how much fun is this for anyone but you? And how much DOES it cost to surround yourself with fortysomething never-wasses willing to get filthy catching passes from television's favorite Quarterback Not Named Manning?

PS- did you ever decide on a big-screen tv?

Friday, December 4, 2009

The True Spirit of Christmas

Isn't it nice to know that even in a time of 10% unemployment, two wars overseas, and general malaise and anxiety, some families still know what's really important during the holidays?

Take this commercial, for example: We see four good-looking, obviously successful siblings leaving their six digit-salary jobs and heading off to what I suppose is supposed to be the Old Homestead, a palatial mountain retreat located at the end of a winding, well-maintained road. They are driving identical 2010-model silver Cadillacs, and they've timed their exit from the big city so perfectly that they can create their own Caravan of Success as they toss glances which can only be interpreted as "Look what I've got" at each other. The commercial is accented by jump cuts to these materialistic, shallow jackanapes sitting around a table toasting eachother's bank accounts (using only the finest wine, chilled just right, I'm sure.)

Just in case we don't get the Kick-To-The-Face subtlety of the commercial's message, the narrator tells us "there's nothing like a little sibling rivalry." Ah, ok. Before you head off over hill and dale to go to grandmother's house for the holidays, you'd better make sure you show well to your parents, brothers and sisters. Because nothing says "Christmas" like a little game of "let's compare bank accounts, stock options and retirement plans" with those people you grew up with.

To make a bad commercial even worse, this mess ends with the four silver Cadillacs fanned out in the driveway of Mommy and Daddy's ranch home, the better to impress passer-bys and neighbors, I guess. I notice that in pretty much all car commercials, the cars end up parked in the most ostentatious way possible, but in this instance, the final camera shot leads me to ask three questions:

First, how long did it take to maneuver those cars into that fan shape? Why would anyone do this in real life? You pull up to a house, you get out. You don't turn the car around and back it up so that it's pointed at the road.

Second, the cars are parked so close to the door, how does anyone get in or out of the house without taking a tour of the trunk of one of them?

Third, does Cadillac really think that Christmas is all about one-upping your brothers and sisters by advertising your wealth in the most obvious way possible? I strongly suspect that if Mommy and Daddy had a four-car garage, the siblings in this film would refuse to use it- if the Cadillac is in the garage, how can they point it out to Mommy and Daddy, or stare lovingly at it from the living room window?

Can you imagine being the member of this family who owns a Prius or even (gasp) a 2009 Cadillac? Get ready for the condescending smirks and snickers from your Betters, Mr Runt of the Litter. God, I hate Cadillac.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ask your Daughter--errrr, Doctor- about Plavix

Daughter with waaaaayy too much time on her hands- and too much control over her dad- is staring at a laptop screen conveniently (?) located on the kitchen table when she commands her father's attention- "Dad? Your PAD could lead to heart attack and stroke!"

Dad agrees to pay attention, by placing his head as close to his daughters as possible to watch the animation provided by "Look," daughter continues, "blood platelets can be blocked in your arteries, increasing the likelihood of heart attack and stroke...Ask you doctor about Plavix?"

Father whispers something inaudible to her- "yes, I'll ask my doctor about Plavix" seems the most likely response, because she smiles, but considering the fact that the commercial has another thirty seconds to run, I think he probably replied, "Doctor, what about Plavix?"

Seriously, this commercial goes on and on AND ON, as the daughter takes the role usually reserved for the unseen narrator, bleating the entire text of any Plavix brochure, right down to the "Plavix is not for everyone" throwaway disclaimer line. Daughter and Dad are riveted to the cartoons featuring blocked arteries and glowing entire human bodies.

Two quick questions: First, this guy knows he has PAD, but doesn't know about Plavix- if his doctor actually diagnosed him and didn't prescribe some expensive medication, I find that very, very strange. More likely this guy has been diagnosed only by Doctor Daughter, who is apparently determined to scare her dad into believing that his aching right leg is a sign of a much more serious disease that is likely to kill him at any moment.

Second- why doesn't this commercial end when the dad agrees to see the doctor, as he clearly is when he smiles and nods, and the daughter smiles and nods back? I can only imagine that it's because the makers of Plavix don't want you to actually ASK your doctor about their medication- they want you to be so terrified that little walls are being built in your arteries that you will DEMAND the drug, RIGHT NOW.

There was a great Tom Toles cartoon a few years ago in The Washington Post which featured a man sitting in front of a television set, watching a pharmecutical commercial. The TV says "Ask your doctor if this medication is right for you." The man watching TV responds "Is this medication right for me?" Pharmecutical commercials and websites aren't interested in keeping you informed about your "options." They are designed to send you running in terror to your doctor, armed with the "information" you "need" to convince him to prescribe this or that expensive, probably unnecessary drug (as if doctors really need convincing anyway.) Drugs are being sold like cars, fast food, and cell phones- "these are things that you NEED, right NOW, so go get them!" Because doctors are still being used as middlemen because of our annoying prescription drug laws, prospective users must be given the weapons needed to get the doctors to sign off.

Your leg aches? Maybe it's because you don't exercise. Maybe it's because you sleep on it. Maybe it's because the train doors slammed on it the other day. Better not take any chances- go get an expensive prescription for Plavix. Big Pharma, and your daughter, will thank you.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely

This guy is cruising along in a luxury car, while the narrator tells us about all it's super-cool and obviously ESSENTIAL new bells and whistles, including "voice recognition technology."

Ok, here we go- in your car, you can pretend that you have some control over your joyless, hopeless life, which after all is just a mad pursuit for money so you can purchase cars with voice recognition technology and phones with pop-up maps of places you'll never visit. You can bark "Play Smashing Pumpkins! Call Office! Increase temperature of butt to 72.6 degrees!"

But this particular commercial ( I don't know what the make of the car is, does it really matter?) goes a bit too far. The driver sees a detour sign and makes an unscheduled turn. He commands his GPS system to "Update Map."

Huh? I have a Garmin GPS in my car. When I take a detour, pull over for coffee, or whatever, I don't talk to the little box on my dashboard. I don't tell it to "Update Map." It just does it. Doesn't that mean that the portable GPS in my 2003 Honda is superior to the pre-installed GPS in this luxury car, which apparently won't update your route unless you order it to?

I have a better theory, though. I think that the driver has just gone insane with power. Having the car respond to every command has gone to his head, and now he can't stop talking to the electronics. Pretty soon he'll be ordering the AP Network News guy to "give update!" or the batter at the plate to "swing at pitch!"

When he tells the wheels to "revolve faster!" as he presses down on the gas pedal, we'll know he needs serious therapy.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Lowes: Your Place for Tools

Lowes is a Proud Sponsor of NASCAR. Why is this a selling point? Even if I were a fan of NASCAR, why would Lowes' sponsorship of Jimmie Johnson make me want to go to Lowes?

And what's with these phony employees in the most recent Lowes Commercial- there they are, wearing their stupid Lowes vests, jumping up and down hooting and hollering and giving eachother high-fives ("Four in a row, baby! Woo Hoo!") because of COURSE they are all Jimmie Johnson fans and of COURSE they will just DIE if Jimmie Johnson doesn't win the Sprint Cup Series. Does Lowes only hire Jimmie Johnson fans to work in their stores? Does the fact that their employer is a Jimmie Johnson fan somehow make Lowes employees gravitate to NASCAR and Johnson? Would expressing support for Jeff Gordon result in a pink slip and an order to get your sorry ass back to Burger King, you traitor?

Assuming that none of these is the case, why are these overworked, underpaid idiots so fucking excited at the prospect of Jimmie Johnson OR Lowes winning ANYTHING?

Is it just that working for Lowes is so all-consuming and soul-sucking that these people don't know why they are so excited about someone who happens to be sponsored by the mega-conglomerate they slave for? Do they realize that they are making the baggage handlers over at Southwest seem almost normal by comparison?

Maybe it's the vests.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Verizon Hates Me, Christmas, and West Virginia

"Santa" walks into the dark, cold barn and asks his reindeer if they are "ready" (to travel the world delivering toys, I guess.) Those stupid Verizon "maps" pop up above all the reindeer- but, oops! Blitzen has Inferior Coverage, because he's got AT&T. What a stupid reindeer!

Ok, I just have three questions for the makers of this brain-dead, childhood memory-crushing, manipulative bullshit. First: Why is it important that every reindeer have the same cell coverage? Aren't they going to be hitched together when they pull their sleigh? Is it really going to be necessary for Blitzen to be able to text Dasher mid-flight? I mean, what the hell?

Second: Check out those pop-up maps. Compare the Verizon Map with the AT&T Map. On both, there's this big blank spot sitting like baby spit-up all over West Virginia. So, neither Verizon nor AT&T offer coverage in West Virginia? What is the consequence of this lack of service? Santa just going to skip the Mountaineer State?

Third: I know this is too much to ask, but could cell phone companies please, PLEASE keep their grubby, filthy paws off of our cherished childhood memories? Santa Claus doesn't give a damn what kind of coverage his reindeer have, because they are REINDEER. He doesn't care what kind of coverage HE has, because he's Santa Claus. He wasn't invented to pimp for Verizon.

He was invented to pimp for Coca-Cola. And let's never forget it.

There's Never Been a Better Time to Blow your Wad on a Bauble

Cute couple skating along on the ice- except, not really: More like girl gracefully skating, while sweet boyfriend with sensitive soul and huge heart who Wants Only To Make Her Happy stumbles, falls, gets up, and grasps a tree branch for support. Oh, how insulin shock-inducing adorable is this? And did I mention that it's all done to the tune of "I Got You Babe?" (Not the Sonny and Cher version- no ad agency EVER uses the original version of any song, after all. In this case, we'll be thankful for small favors.)

Having had enough of this skate-your-way-into-the-sack shit, clumsy doofus guy pulls out a box and hands her the only thing any girl really wants, after all- a piece of rock dug out of the ground by some starving kid in South Africa.

"Now more than ever, you are each other's greatest strength" the disembodied voice-over intones, as we watch the graceful recipient of a shiny stone hug/hold up clumsy, Finally Going to Get Some boyfriend. "The strength of love, forged in a knot."

"Now more than ever.." does the narrator mean "now that you can cross off 'skating' as an activity you enjoy doing together, leaving 'watching tv' and 'having sex' as the only two left?" It sure doesn't mean "during these trying economic times," because seriously, what is it about 10% unemployment that makes this a good time to invest in ancient coal?

"The strength of love, forged in a knot." How about "a shiny stone, surrounded by glittery metal?" Ok, not quite as catchy. And my substitution doesn't really echo the De Beers message: "If he really loved you, he'd buy you the most useless, pointless, showy thing he could find, instead of fucking around pretending to enjoy skating just to get you to put out, already."

And just think, it's not even quite Thanksgiving yet. Almost three full months left before Valentine's Day and the end of the If You Really Cared, You'd Buy Her a Ring, Broach, or Necklace, you Cheap Asshole Annual Nag A Thon. As no summer is warm enough to prevent the coming of autumn, no economy is bad enough to cancel the Stupid Season.

Just Sign and Drive- and pay. And pay. And pay.

I'm going to skip over the obvious snarkable material in these stupid commercials- the Prospective Driver Experiencing Orgasm at Thought of Driving a Volkswagen moment that shows up near the middle, featuring Prospective Driver with incredibly fake, stupid grin on his/her face as he/she cruises down the street in a new, shiny car (and, in one, adjusts the seat so the driver is practically laying down. Why? I don't even want to hazard a guess.) I'd rather focus on the whole "sign and drive" deception, and Volkswagen's habit of treating customers like sheep to be sheared, at best.

One customer after another looks at the gleaming cars in the showroom (someday, I'd like to pick out a car in a Showroom, instead of the Lot.) One customer after another says some version of "tough decision." One way-too-enthusiastic car dealer after another drops a rapid-fire chunk of information including the warranty, gas mileage, etc.- I am not sure what, because I'm too distracted by how nonsensical it is that the dealer is offering standard boilerplate instead of actual specs.

These commercials always end with the potential customer being astounded at the concept of "Sign and Drive." And I don't blame them- whenever I have purchased a car, I SIGNED the contract, and then I would DRIVE the car away. Why is this being sold as something new and revolutionary? It isn't stated outright, but I guess what we are being told here is that no money need be exchanged at the moment of purchase- "all you need is your signature."

To which I have to reply: Big. Fucking. Deal.

This is just another version of the "low lease payment" scam car dealerships have been pulling for years. "Check this out, you can lease this car for only $199 per month! Wow! What a great deal!" Ah, but check the small print- "$2999 due at signing." Yeah, great deal- instead of paying your lease over the course of four years, you've handed the dealership a year and a half worth of payments up front. I suppose that's a great deal for somebody- but it ain't the customer.

I strongly suspect that you are going to pay a very heavy price in exchange for the convenience of "sign and drive." Because you didn't have to write a check today, that monthly bite out of your wallet is going to be extra painful down the road. So you didn't have to come up with two grand before you hit the dealership- you'll pay that money out later, with interest and fees. No one is giving away cars "for just your signature," sorry.

Way to entice people who may be facing financial difficulties and melting bank accounts, Volkswagen. "Don't bring money, we know you're good for it- just sign here!" What they mean is, "Don't pay me now. Just be prepared to bend over later." Happy Holidays from Volkswagen.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Chase Sapphire: Can you imagine a Guy getting away with this Asshattery?

A woman walks into the living room, surprising her husband by wearing a hot new dress. For some reason, this inspires the husband to start talking about their Chase Sapphire Credit Card: "Lets use our points to take a break."

Ok, let's take this in for a moment: Wife shows husband expensive-looking new purchase. First thing husband thinks is "hey, that reminds me, we've got a credit card?"

"We could go on a trip" husband says (cue scene with hubby and wife roaring down the coast on a speedboat- I don't see a "closed course, do not attempt" disclaimer anywhere.)

"No we can't" replies wife.

"Sure we can- we can use the points for just about anything" husband insists.

"I know" replies wife, stepping back to again point out that she's wearing an expensive dress.

Husband smiles- Ah, yes. That's where your Chase Sapphire points went, buddy. Your wife saw something she just Had To Have, and used the points THE TWO OF YOU EARNED to BUY SOMETHING FOR HERSELF.

Kind of an interesting reversal of the usual theme here- Husband is thinking of the fun things they could do as a couple; Wife plays the selfish choad who went out and blew the points without even consulting Husband. Generally, what we see in commercials is Wife/Girlfriend being sensible and Husband/Boyfriend being a clueless, self-centered little prick. This commercial would have fit into the standard if wife/girlfriend had enthused about all the great things they could do with their Chase Sapphire points, only to have husband/boyfriend point at the new Game System he purchased without letting her know. Shrug and eyeroll by wife/girlfriend, commercial over.

Of course, we can't see the husband ticked off at his wife for using THEIR card points to buy something for HERSELF- he just smiles appreciatively, as if she bought the dress for his benefit.
It's strongly implied that even though it's THEIR card, SHE has the final say on how it will be used. Still, I can't help but thinking that if it was the guy tossing cold water on his wife's big plans for a vacation by pointing out that he just bought a new tool bench or the 2010 MLB HD package on Dish Network, her reaction would not have been quite so generous.

One more point- with the unemployment rate hovering above 10% for the first time in 26 years, do we really need a commercial featuring people who spend so much on credit that they've accumulated enough points to buy dresses or go on vacation with? Oh, who am I kidding- we are about to be treated to another two months of "Show your Loved One that you Care by giving them a Lexus with a Red Ribbon on it" commericals. Compared to those, this credit card commercial is downright enjoyable. Like a toothache is enjoyable compared to a migraine.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Blackstone Gold Brokers: Champions of the Non Sequitur

Here we go again with another of these "Invest your hard-earned money on the theory that the United States economy is on the verge of collapse" commercials. This one is from some company called Blackstone International, and it always leaves me scratching my head and wondering who decided to fire the editor before the final product was approved.

Testimonial #1: "I decided to take some of my IRA and buy gold from Blackstone International. Gold has increased 250% in the last eight years. My gold investment rose from $75,000 to $89,000. I am very happy with Blackstone International."

Um, say what? $75,000 to $89,000 is not an increase of 250%. It's an increase of just under 20%. Assuming that the price of gold HAS risen 250% in eight years, this woman clearly did not make her investment eight years ago. So, what's the point of telling us that the price of gold has risen 250% in eight years? What's the significance of an eight-year period, anyway? It's been eight years since 9/11- is that it? Wouldn't it have been equally relevant to tell us how much gold has increased in the last eighty years, or eight hundred?

Testimonial #2- "I bought my gold from Blackstone International. I wouldn't be surprised to see gold hit $2000 an ounce in the near future. Blackstone International is a company I can trust."

What is this, Haiku Day on the radio? What does buying gold from Blackstone International have to do with what the price of gold will do in the future? Why do I care what this guy's personal prediction is about the price of gold? Is he telling me that if I buy gold from some other company, the price of gold might NOT reach $2000 an ounce? Why do gold broker commercials make my head hurt so much?

More to the point, why don't these commercials just cut to the chase and urge us to bet against the American Economy, because the best news for people who invest in gold is the complete collapse of the world financial markets, followed by depression and unprecedented human misery? Maybe they think that would be too much of a downer?

Life is good for the gold brokers these days, though: they've made enough money to buy off pretty much every radio yakker on the planet, regardless of political ideology. Now maybe they could use just a little of that money to make a few decent commercials with logical, coherent messages, instead of ones featuring people who are apparently happy to spout whatever happens to pop into their heads while the recorder is running.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

You Get What You Pay For

Look, I don't like the idea of paying for checked baggage. I think it's a real pound-foolish way for airlines to try to squeeze every last buck out of the flying public. Maybe it's because of the sticker shock- we went from No Fees to $25 or more per bag, virtually overnight. Or maybe it's because of the behavior the extra fee has created- hordes of self-absorbed jackasses trying to jam every manner of garment bag, suitcase, dufflebag and What Have You into the overhead compartment or the seat in front of them, leaving you to stand like an idiot in the aisle wondering if you are going to be allowed to get to your seat before the plane starts to roll (Seriously- the things some people think are appropriate "carry-ons"....Jesus.....)

But I think I would rather pay the extra charge than have the type of people Southwest Airlines apparently employs handling my bags for free. In one commercial, we are supposed to think it's funny that a few of them are reminiscing about their favorite bags, and moaning how sad it is to see them fly off to parts unknown (the commercial is supposed to make us think "Sentimental, Funny." I can't help but think "Pathetic, Loser.") In the one I just saw, these bottom-feeders are competing for the title of Biggest Moron in the Airport by yelling "FREE! FREE! Bags fly FREE!" and laughing like little children in the process. One guy even "sings" "Frreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!" (He should meet the Maxwell House "Freeeeeeesssssshhhh!" jackass.)

I thought the "It's On" campaign was bad enough (one of the "Its On" commercials features everyone's favorite frequent flier, the It's All About Me businessman who doesn't shut his laptop and board the plane until the last possible second, holding the rest of us lesser mortals up with his asshattery.) But these are worse, because they want us to think it's charming to watch underpaid unskilled labor perform like trained seals while celebrating the decisions passed down from Corporate and which benefit them not the slightest.

If I want to watch impoverished cogs in an industrial machine blather on about how great "their" company is, I'll pay more attention to those Honey Bunches of O's commercials, where all the workers sit around spending half their days eating the cereal they "supervise" as it's poured into boxes. Ugh.

Thank You, Makers of DJ Hero

I want to take a moment to thank the good people who worked painstakingly to create the newest Lets Pretend to Play Guitar video game, DJ Hero, which (if I get the gist of it) sets up a "contest" between various rap artists.

I'm not thanking them for creating a game which is sure to instill upon the players a strong love of music. Because seriously, I don't see this happening.

I'm not thanking them for encouraging kids to learn a musical instrument. Because I've played "Guitar Hero" before, and know that learning how to push the right buttons at the right time has only the tiniest relation to learning to play guitar chords. In fact, I shake my head sadly at the realization that every minute, ever hour some doofus kid "practices" at "playing" the "guitar" is time that could have been spent engaged in the enriching experience of actually learning to play a real guitar. Or some other musical instrument.

I can't quite bring myself to thank them for once again proving the power of effective advertising. I mean, think about it: hundreds of millions of dollars in sales of a game which is essentially air guitar, except with a plastic non-musical instrument and cartoons on a tv screen. Talk about the triumph of consumerism.

I'm sure not thanking them for providing yet another excuse for obese technology-obsessed losers to stay indoors on even the nicest days, enjoying their Wal-Mart provided fantasy world while their actual lives gradually slip away.

No, I'm not thanking the makers of DJ Hero for any of these things. But they deserve my gratification anyway, so I'll make it brief: Thank You, Makers of DJ Hero, for not releasing this game until the worthless, thoughtless, clueless moron who used to live in my apartment building finally got his sorry ass tossed. Because at least when the mood struck him to play Guitar Hero at 4 AM (which was, on average, three times a week) at least the music usually wasn't unbearably bad. If I had to listen to Jay Z and Eminem "competing" off-key at high volume, I think I'd lose it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

I'm Ready to do Anything but Exercise and Eat Right

"If I lost the weight, maybe I wouldn't have to take so many medications" says one woman.

"If I lost the weight, maybe my back and knees wouldn't hurt so much" some guy tells us.

"If I lost the weight, I could run around with my grandkids" another woman adds.

What are they talking about? Why, how for many, many years they've longed to get rid of that spare tire wrapped around their hips. And now, after years of dithering and wishing, they are going to DO something about it.

What are they going to do? Join a gym and exercise something other than their gums and texting digits? Cut out salty and sugary snacks? Add fruits and vegetables to their diet? Stop guzzling soda and juice drinks? Get off the couch and take a daily walk?

Nope- when we hear each person in turn confidently tell us that "I'm ready," what they mean is "I'm ready to have a 'minimally invasive procedure to place an adjustable (by WHOM?) silicone band around the upper part of my stomach, so I can feel full without overeating."

According to the website, the band "creates a pouch without permanently altering any organs." Oh well, that's good news, at least. But seriously, it's bad enough that millions of people think that they are one exercise machine purchase, one set of pills, or one insanely dangerous diet away from losing weight. Now they are being told that they are one simple, safe and "minimally invasive" surgery away from looking like those models in the magazines. Funny how Quick-Fix messages will always drown out doctors and common sense, which have been telling us for decades that the only way to safely and permanently lose weight is to affect a lifestyle adjustment and introduce your body to regular servings of fruits, vegetables and exercise.

Clearly there exists a massive population of people who are willing to eat up these quick fixes (no pun intended) yet jam their fingers in their ears and chant "can't hear you, can't hear you" when reminded about the exercise and diet thing. The snake oil and surgery salesmen who sell the miracle cures are, I'm sure, eternally grateful for them.

(How DO you "adjust" a band wrapped around your stomach, again?)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Ford F-150: Sure You'll Kill Somebody, but you'll be fine!

Every once in a while, I see a commercial that makes me really, REALLY angry. Here's one from our friends at Ford:

"...Because you're going to eat a Cheeseburger while you drive...." (we see our typical twentysomething asshole jamming food into his face and paying only the most casual "attention" to the road he's cruising down.)

"....Because you are going to talk on your cellphone while you drive...." (we see the same guy blathering away on the little box jammed up against his cheek, barreling down the highway without a care in the world.)

".....we've introduced the Ford F-150, the Safest Truck in the World." The Ford F-150 has a massive, heavy steel skeleton, drivers and passenger side air bags, blah blah blah.

Oh, that's awesome. So no worries for this prick- he's going to mow down someone in a lesser car while tweeting that he just passed Exit 30B on the Beltway, but he'll be just fine. He'll sideswipe a van while trying to dig out the last french fry from the bottom of the bag, but he'll be unscathed, thanks to that awesome heavy steel cage he's got surrounding his precious self. And the people he kills through his self-centered cluelessness? Well, they should have bought a Ford F-150 or stayed the hell off the highway, I guess (It IS Ford Truck Month, you know.)

Great message, Ford-- Go ahead and drive like a clueless prick who owns the road. You won't suffer any physical consequences if you do it in this reinforced tank. That cry of terror you heard as you bounced your Ford Fuckmobile off the Honda trying to pass? Don't worry your empty little head about it.

"It's crazy out there," the commercial concludes. It sure is, Ford. And you are not helping.

The Garmin Nuvi Phone and Blackberry: United Together to Destroy Civilization

As anyone who has been reading this blog for any time at all knows, Cell Phone commercials are the bane of my existence. I think that most people who own and use cell phones are already clueless, inconsiderate assholes, but if they behave the way they are told they should behave by cell phone commercials, I think it will be time for Western Civilization to basically call it a day.

Garmin has gotten into the biz with it's Nuvi phone. I like Garmin- I have a Forerunner for my wrist to wear when I hike (Harpers Ferry this weekend- amazing weather and views!) and a Nuvi in my car because my sense of direction is, frankly, pitiful. But the way they sell their phone is just repulsive- squeaky, way-too-excited girl tells us "with my Nuvi, everywhere I go, I feel like a local!" (because she can get maps on her phone.) Personally, I don't want to feel like a "local" when I go to a new place. I think finding my way around someplace new is kind of cool. But that's just me. But even worse- "With my Nuvi, I can talk to my friends as I go to meet them!" (because she can touch a button on her car unit and talk hands-free. Gee, thats super. Because you should never, ever shut your hole for even a moment if you can avoid it.) Thanks to the Garmin Nuvi Phone, you can stare at a screen with a map on it instead of taking in the local sights, and you can gab aimlessly with your friends as you drive. Thanks, Garmin.

And this new Blackberry? "Kim has the unlimited calling plan for her family, so now her son can talk all day." SUPER!!! What a great selling point for Kim, or ANY mom out there! Get a phone which allows your kid to TALK ALL DAY! Because know what he's doing now? Unless he's one of those Milky Minutes pricks who don't care what Mommy's phone bill is, he's being deprived of his God-given right to blather and text away his life. Hell, he might even be playing sports or taking walks or having conversations with people who are actually in the same room! Thank God Kim is fixing the situation by getting a plan that lets her kid talk all day! I hope that kid is in my car on Amtrak when I take my 13-hour trip to Vermont next month for the holidays, and he's more interesting than the woman across the aisle from me last year, who called three different people and told them all about her intestinal issues and her strawberry-and-yogurt diet!

Thanks, Garmin and Blackberry, for speeding up the process of turning our country into a nation of pathetic, inconsiderate, self-important losers by encouraging them to spend their days giving themselves brain cancer (please oh please oh please) with their electronic security blankets. I hope the money helps break the fall when you decend to the innermost ring of hell.

Be a Man! Buy a Truck!

If you watch football on Sundays, you probably already know that it's GMC Truck Month. In fact, by my reckoning, we are entering the sixth week or so of GMC Truck Month. To be fair, it's entirely possible that I'm confusing Ford Truck Month with GMC Truck Month- perhaps they overlap? But to tell you the truth, I rarely remember what truck I just saw plow across my screen, let alone the company that built it.

Here's what I do notice- that buying a truck is all about Being an American Male. It's not just Denis Leary's voice sneering that it's time to put down the fricking protractor, Poindexter, and get yourself into one of these behemouths. It's not just Howie Long nodding condescendingly at Not Quite Masculine Enough Lesser Truck Owner as he attempts to use his truck's "man-step." It's the constant To Hell With You and Your Girly Planet, Pansy imagery that adorns all these commercials- the crashing through forests and streams, the leaping small canyons in the desert, and the apparently endless search for mud to spatter all over these oversized monsters.

And if the connection between blatant maleness and dirty trucks isn't obvious enough, not to worry- virtually every other scene is something heavy and filthy being dropped from five feet or so (WHY? Why can't the battleship engine, shipment of lead pipes, or pallet of Big Greasy Things be placed into the truck bed instead of dropped?) accompanied by a spray of dirt and oil into the screen. In case you STILL aren't convinced, stay tuned as dirt-encrusted men emphatically clap their filthy gloved hands together, slam doors to create clouds of dust (whenever I see this I wonder, Why are these guys pissed at their trucks?) and grin at us through coats of grime on their lined, determined-to-do-something-manly faces.

I don't get it. What does buying a truck in order to wreck its shocks and cover it in filth have to do with being a man? Are there really a lot of guys out there who need trucks with "sufficient payload?" (oh, if only Freud were here to deal with THAT claim.) Whenever I see one of these trucks on the road, it's being driven by a guy in a suit, and it's so clean it gleams. I wouldn't even know WHERE to take a truck to give it its required coat of gunk. Would I be expected to mix up mud in my back yard and just douse it before heading off to Office Depot to buy a truckload of heavy stuff?

And is GMC Truck Month going to end sometime before Christmas?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

To Own One is to Love One?

"My mom, she has one..."

"My sister."

"My next door neighbor has one..."

"My nephew got one last year, when he went away to college."

What are all these people talking about? Why, the people they know who own a Honda, of course. Well, that's all very nice- they know people who own Hondas. So what?

Narrator: "Everyone knows someone who loves a Honda..."

Um, excuse me? I didn't hear anyone say they knew someone who "loves" a Honda. I heard people say they knew someone who OWNS a Honda. Why is that the same thing?

I own a Honda because they are inexpensive and reliable. My parents own a Honda, as does one of my brothers, and my niece. I'm pretty happy with my car, and so are my relatives. When it's time to replace my car, will I buy another Honda? Yeah, probably- my last car was a Honda, and I'm satisfied with the performance, gas mileage and (for the most part) upkeep costs. Would I consider buying another brand? I guess- though my preference would be for another Honda.

Do I love my Honda? Well, no. The interior noise is loud, and I had to replace the clutch after only 65,000 miles. Besides, it's a car. I don't love cars. But as far as Honda is concerned, because I own one, I must love one, I guess.

Hey Honda- you make a good product. It's very popular in this country. Congratulations. Be happy with your success in the marketplace, and don't stick words in our mouths, ok? Leave that to the Health Care Industry, which thinks that if you have health insurance, you are "happy" with your coverage. Ok?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I'll Give you a Dollar to Go Away

Scruffy guy with dollar bill walks up to Travel Agent and asks "where can I go for this?"

Instead of being sensible and saying "nowhere" or ignoring the idiot, the travel agent feels compelled to to give this pathetic slob a little plastic palm tree she had affixed to her desk. "It's yours," she says, implying that she doesn't want the dollar. She has no way of knowing that the guy has no intention of giving up that dollar in any case, as we see when....

Same guy gets into a taxi and asks "how far can I go for this?" Much More Sensible Cab Driver replies "you can get out." And out the idiot goes.

Same guy is then seen walking down the street, carrying a paper hanger some dry cleaner gave him in exchange for Our Favorite Moron's exit from the store.

Finally, the guy walks into a McDonald's. "What can I get for this?" he asks the way-too-proud-of-his-conglomerate-masters schmo manning the register. A tape recorder apparently sitting where the McDonald's worker's soul used to be clicks on and the employee begins to blather about the restaurant's Dollar Menu options- "you can get a Meaty, Melty McDonald's Double Cheesburger with all the amenities." (Seriously, the guy uses the word "amenities" to describe a slice of orange cheese, two pickles, and one squirt each of ketchup and mustard.) "Or, you can get a delicious McChicken sandwich. Or any of the other delicious options on our dollar menu that's always here for you." "Here for you?" That's the first time I've ever heard that phrase outside of a soap opera.

Here's the punchline- we see the guy sitting at a booth, eating his cheeseburger- PLUS a large soda, PLUS a hot fudge sundae!!! Somehow, this guy's quest to buy something- ANYTHING- with his last dollar has turned into a $3 purchase! What the hell? If he had three dollars, why didn't he ask the Travel Agent or Cab Driver what it would buy him?

One more thing- Taco Bell has pulled crap like this too, showing us an idiot running around collecting pennies (including stealing one from a kid selling lemonade- pure class) until he has 88 cents to buy a taco. Never is the concept of TAXES mentioned. The items in the McDonalds Dollar Menu don't cost a dollar- they cost a dollar PLUS TAX. So the correct answer to this idiot's "what can I buy for this?" question is "nothing, unless you have a little change to add to it." I wish commercials would stop pretending that the people living in them exist in some tax-free paradise.

While I'm at it: "Washington. If you are thinking of putting a tax on Meaty Melty McDoubles, "Fruit" pies and Milkshakes, DON'T. You may think it's just pennies, but those pennies add up when you are trying to feed a family!"

Friday, October 30, 2009

Maxwell House likes to make fun of Mentally Ill People

I thought the Subway "Five Dollar Foot Longs" commercials were bad enough- two-minute parades of people elbowing each other out of the way to mug for the camera and chant "Five Dollar Foot Longs" before giggling uncontrollably. But Maxwell House has far less respect for its core audience, as demonstrated by it's new "Fresh Seal" campaign.

The idea is that Maxwell House Coffee now comes with a "fresh seal" plastic lid which keeps the coffee Fresh. Pretty damned simple concept, seems to me. But of course, we can't just have a spokesperson or announcer tell us that the lid keeps the coffee fresh. We have to round up all the village idiots to sit in little groups and entertain us with inane, pointless, insipid blather concerning- well, what we already figured out.

"The lid says fresh" one desperate-for-attention suburban mom tells us. She's quickly topped, though, by another woman who adds "you smell that coffee, and it's like mmmmmm.." Moron # 3 will not be deterred- "It's like MMMM- MMMMM!!!"

But wait, here's the winner of the Was It Really Worth It Just to Get Your Mug on TV? contest: One idiot keeps opening the plastic lid and pretending that the coffee is singing-- "Freeeessh! FREEEEEEEESSSSSSHHHH!" And the people around him giggle with delight. Oh yes, this guy is the Wit of the Neighborhood. Never, EVER throw a party without inviting him first. And if he doesn't show, apologize to your guests and shoo them out the door.

I mean, ugh. The plastic lid keeps the coffee fresh. I GET IT. I don't need to see people talking about it, joking about it, or feeling inspired to do a lame ventriloquist act over it. And Maxwell House? Making fun of the mentally ill is simply not funny. These people need help, not camera time. (So do the "Five Dollar Foot Long" tools, but I've done that snark already.)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

It's Hard to put Non-food on the Family These Days

That woman is back- you know the one, the rather stringy, tight-lipped, bitter looking Struggling Mom already burdened by Too Many Taxes who is ready to just EXPLODE if "Washington" decides to pass a tax on "Juice Drinks and Soda."

This time, she's in the Supermarket, pushing a cart which appears to have a pretty nice array of veggies and fruits in it. Her little son walks up with what looks like a DVD. "Can I get this one?" he asks plaintively.

"Son, we've talked about the Bad Times" mom intones. Oh jeesh, ,can we get more stilted dialogue and wooden delivery, please? How about "no, we are here to buy groceries" or "no, Christmas is around the corner?" I get the impression that mom pulls this "No, Son, like we talked about before, the Unemployment rate rose by a tenth of a point last month" every time her kid asks for a Snickers Bar.

"Yeah, I know- we're on a Budget" acknowledges son, mournfully turning away to put the DVD back. And now it's time for Mom to turn to the camera and issue her warning to "Washington" again- "we hear talk that Washington is considering a new tax on juice drinks and soda. They say it's just pennies, but those pennies add up when you are trying to feed a family. We just can't afford any new taxes right now!"

As the narrator tells us who to thank for this leaden, illogical crap, we see chastened but still hopeful son hold up a bottle of pale, pinkish fluid which I guess is supposed to be Generic Brand Soda. Mom nods in the affirmative (she has to feed her family, after all!) and pale, pinkish fluid goes into the cart.

There is so much wrong with this, it's hard to decide where to begin. First of all, if "Washington" imposes a federal sales tax on soda and juice drinks by a few pennies, do those pennies really "add up" when you are "trying to feed a family?" Maybe- if you are trying to feed that family on juice drinks and soda. Second, in two commercial appearances I have yet to see this woman with anything resembling a "juice drink." In both commercials, she's either about to purchase or already has purchased 2-liter bottles of Brand-X soda. Thirdly, please, lady, get the fucking chip off your shoulder- if its so damned hard to feed your children on your current family budget, then Stop Spending Money on Junk Like Soda!!! It's not like bubbly fizzy chemically-treated water is a necessity, like a cell phone with unlimited (and FRESH) minutes.

Oh, and spare us the final "comforting hand to the neck of sad child" scene as the ad fades to black. We've already seen your modest but more than adequate home in the suburban neighborhood, not to mention your SUV. I have no sympathy for a whiny martyr who burdens her children with her utter cluelessness about money. And I won't until I see this woman in a commercial in which she says "Washington. We just can't afford Unemployment Insurance Extensions, Infrastructure repair, Social Security or Medicare. Please, cancel those programs, right now. Because there's no WAY I'm paying another nickle for my family's weekly allowance of Mr. Pib and Shasta. We've got to feed our families, don't we?"

Monday, October 26, 2009

Another Wretched Anti-Health Care Ad- What a crappy way to start my week.

For some reason (oh, I remember now- because I forgot to bring in my XM from the car the night before) I find myself watching Morning Joe on MSNBC at around 7 AM. And on comes a commercial that basically ruins my mood for the day.

We see a grandson and his grampa, sitting on the couch. Little boy says "are you worried about your surgery?" Grampa: "Sure."

Grandson: "Is it going to be expensive?"

Grampa: "Doesn't matter. The government's paying for it."

Next we see Grandson put on a suit, get into over-sized shoes, and pick up a briefcase as the narrator intones "Government Run-Health Care has to be paid for by someone." Out the door goes the little boy with his briefcase, while Lazy-Ass Selfish Oh Boo Hoo I Want My Precious Surgery Grampa sits on his butt and stares into space.

Seriously, this is so incredibly weak. The old "burden on our grandchildren" bit? Is that really the best you can do, National Family Research Council? You really want us to turn against the Public Option because it "will put a burden on our grandchildren?"

Anyone else think that this "debating point" has been done to death? Notice how every time politicians try to do fix some major wrong, or cure some societal ill, a gang of drooling trolls on the other side pulls a Mrs. Lovejoy and screeches "Oh won't somebody PLEASE think of the CHILDREN??" Now we've got Grampa cast as the Bad Guy because he doesn't want to go bankrupt paying for his surgery. Which side is arguing "why don't you just die," again?

I could go on and on all night about this commercial, but I'll settle on making a few quick points:

The pathetic, lame argument made by this commercial could easily have been made about Social Security, Medicare, the GI Bill, and a whole host of other government programs when they were first proposed- "oh, our grandchildren are going to have to foot the bill for this." Yes, just like they'll have to foot the bill for illegal wars, massive tax cuts for the wealthy, and the gutting of our infrastructure allowed by the suddenly penny-conscious Right. Where are these pigs when it comes time to appropriate hundreds of billions of dollars to invade and occupy sovereign nations? Where are they when the Government decides to cut corporate tax rates or drop the taxes for America's richest 1 percent?

And one more thing- if the Family Research Council is really concerned about leaving a burden of debt on our grandchildren, it ought to get behind the Public Option. Because forty years after the passage of Social Security, there weren't a whole lot of people out there damning the Roosevelt Administration for pushing it through. Chances are, if we are condemned by our grandchildren forty years down the road, it will be because we listened to the tea-baggers, the Sean Hannitys, the Mark Levins, and the scumbags at the Family Research Council- and did nothing.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Heartbreaking Bait and Switch on Health Care Reform

I was too angry to comment on the newest incarnation of the "Harry and Louise" ads rolled out earlier this year in a stealth attack on real health care reform. You know the ones- where a now-elderly Harry and Louise gripe about how FINALLY, with a LITTLE LESS PARTISANSHIP, Congress may get to REAL health care reform. The one that made me scream FUCK YOU YOU SLIMY BASTARDS at the TV screen, as the two actors playing Harry and Louise played a rather important role in killing Health Care reform in 1993-- and how many people have gone bankrupt, lost their homes, and DIED due to the cost of medical care which has only continued to increase since then, you vicious cretins, may you burn in hell?

This new commercial makes me even angrier, but I just have to comment on it, anyway. Here's a sad-looking, middle-aged man sitting in a virtually empty house, packing up the last of his boxes of memories. He looks fondly at a framed photograph of a middle-aged woman, no doubt his wife and, once upon a time, his High School sweetheart and still the love of his life.

Then we see the sad man walk out of his house carrying a cardboard box. A "Sold" sign is on the lawn- ah, we are starting to get the message. This man has sold his house. Has the woman in the picture passed away, making living in this house too painful to endure?

Then we see the sad man walking through an apartment building, a rather confused look on his face, looking for the door with the right number. There it is- and he enters. Here's his new home, a rather shabby apartment with those cheap venetian blinds they all seem to come with. He sits on his box, and looks at the framed photo of his wife again.

Now he's in his car, and he's driving into a hospital parking lot. And now we see that the woman in the framed photograph is not dead- she's alive, and in a hospital bed, and so happy to see her husband and love of her life, though through her smile we can see her pain. At last, we get the point of the commercial- this couple has lost everything because one of them got sick, and her medical care has eaten away their savings. To pay for her surgery and her medication, they've sold the house they probably bought as newlyweds, raised their kids in, and hoped to grow old together playing gin rummy and watching movies on TCM in.

We are given what ought to be an obvious caption: "No One Should Lose Their Home Paying for Medical Care."

Very effective ad- for Single Payer Health Care, or at the very least, the Public Option. But what are we urged to do at the end? "Support Consensus Health Care Reform." Consensus Health Care Reform?? CONSENSUS HEALTH CARE REFORM?? What the hell does "Consensus Health Care Reform" mean? Why, it means Health Care Reform that can be supported by both Democrats and Republicans, of course. Which means no Single Payer plan, and never you damn mind that Single Payer works wonderfully in most of the civilized world. Which means no public option. Which means no caps on health insurance premiums. Which means no laws banning denial of care, no measures to allow the government to negotiate the price of medication, and no requirements that insurance companies provide affordable policies for people with pre-existing conditions.

In short, "Consensus Health Care Reform" means no reform at all.

So if your heart strings are tugged by the plight of sad man and the woman in the framed photo, you should support a bipartisan bill which will do NOTHING to help people who find themselves in the exact same situation? Come on. What kind of soulless ghouls could make a commercial which very honestly portrays a very real crisis, and then calls on viewers to support a "solution" that does ZERO to meet it?

I really hope this commercial backfires on the inhuman slugs who made it. "No One Should Lose Their Home Paying for Medical Care." I agree- so let's join pretty much every other Democracy on the planet and adopt single-payer. And actually solve the problem. Even if we have to "settle" for a Partisan (gasp, horrors!) bill which passes 51-50 with Joe Biden casting the tie-breaking vote. Because the proper role of Government is to solve problems, not seek some mirage of "Consensus" that leaves us no better off than when we started.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

But is it a Quality Life?

Steve's trying to call his friends, but he finds himself trapped in a bubble which is supposed to represent the limits of his calling plan. Sucks to be you, Steve.

"So Steve said 'toodle-oo' to his old calling plan, and switched to the Now Network...." Ok, stop right there. I find it very hard to believe that Steve actually said "toodle-oo," or that anyone who uses the phrase "toodle-oo" has friends.

Now Steve is no longer limited in the number of people he can call. "So Steve decided to call every person in the United States. He'll get done when he's ninety-three." And we see a white-haired, white-bearded and bent over Steve completing his life's mission, to call every single mobile phone in the United States. I guess he's white-haired, white-bearded and bent over because that's been the accepted symbol of old age at least since Washington Irving published Rip Van Winkle, some time around 1830.

So, what's this commercial trying to sell, again? The ability to call every phone in the United States? Who wants to do that? Is this a commercial warning the viewers not to fuck away their lives blathering away on their phones to total strangers (not likely- I think that's pretty much what they want us to do)? Is it just trying to remind us that cell phones can still be used to have conversations with people (because seriously, it's been a long time since I've seen people in a phone commercial using the actual "call" option)?

In a more innocent age, I'd say that this phone company is just trying to astound us with the unlimited access to other people's phones that they give you. But considering our culture's obsession with the stupid blinking beeping things, I really think that there ought to be a disclaimer at the bottom of the screen-Do Not Attempt.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Asthma is the least of your problems, lady

For a full five minutes, the silhouette of a shapely woman wearing high heels marches all over the screen, turning on a dime, changing directions, sometimes aggressively plowing straight ahead as if she's about to come right out of the screen into my living room, then turning left and crossing the length of my tv like the New England Patriots heading down the field in a two-minute offense, continuing to blather on about Symbicort even though she's no longer looking at the viewer.

Twice during this commercial, this silhouette woman defensively tells us that the facts she just bleated "make Symbicort right for me." Who is she arguing with? Why is she pacing this way and that, moving her hands nervously as she goes, while muttering things like "I know that Symbicort won't replace an emergency inhaler?" Why does she only appear in shadow, as if she's in the Witness Protection Program giving testimony on this top secret weapon produced by the criminal masterminds at AstraZeneca (which does sound like the kind of organization James Bond might be sent to destroy?)

Watching this woman's frentic movement throughout the entire commercial, I come to three possible conclusions:

1. This woman has gone insane, and is simply babbling to herself as she struggles vainly to discover a way to escape from the cage she has found herself in. She's like a cheetah displayed in some cruel roadside menagerie, forever pacing back and forth. For God's Sake, AstraZeneca, open a door and let her out already.

2. This woman is suffering from Restless Leg Syndrome, a nasty side effect that some May Experience from taking Symbicort, which is nevertheless Right For Her.

3. Constant movement is a required therapy in her daily struggle to combat Glowing Lung Syndrome. Did I mention that her lungs glow blue and red during most of the commercial? They remind me of the solar lights my parents installed around their pond, and they totally creep me out. Your lungs are glowing, and you are concerned about dealing with bouts of asthma?

And when she concludes by telling me to ask my doctor "if Symbicort is right for me," it sounds a lot more like an order than a suggestion. I guess AstraZeneca's theory is that if the actress is bold and scary enough, the viewer will feel threatened into calling the doctor-- "I'd better try this medication, because Scary Lady in Shadows who couldn't stop walking around and who had glowing lungs told me too."

And who is going to refuse a command by a woman with glowing lungs?

Monday, October 12, 2009

If you Want to Sell Out, Sell Out

We hear a hideous version of the Beatles classic "All You Need is Love," brought to us by Blackberry. Maybe in the 60s, all we needed was Love. In the year 2009, all we need is Love and a blinking, beeping box that we can use to download video, tweet our every move, keep track of sports scores and avoid developing actual relationships with the human beings around us.

We hear a not-quite-as-horrible version of the Cat Stevens classic "If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out" brought to us by some other cell phone company (at this point, who really gives a shit which one? ) I think that when Stevens (I know that's not his name anymore, but it was at the time) wrote that song, it was supposed to be a celebration of individuality and a call to reject the call to conform being pushed upon us by society. Now wanting to "be me" apparently requires me to get a phone that looks a lot like the one everyone else owns. I can't "be me" unless I have this phone, because this phone will allow me to express What it Means to Be Me. Or something.

It's not enough that cell phone companies want us to spend pretty much every waking moment of our lives staring at some little screen while pushing buttons. Now they are reaching into the past to find songs about how unimportant material things are and how beautiful each of us is, if we are only willing to show the world who we are, to SELL PHONES. More than that- we are being told that if we want to be loved, if we want to be creative and complete, we must own one of these stupid phones.

Well, I've got a little Nokia that I use because it's cheaper and more convenient than a land line. I can use it to check my email, but I never do. I guess I can't use it to Twitter, but I'm not sure, because I'm not about to try. I can't use it to download video, and I couldn't care less. So I guess I'd better reconcile myself to a life without Love, in which I never really learn Who I Am.

Sucks to be me, I guess. Doesn't suck to be Cat Stevens, though, who has apparently decided that it's all well and good to be devoted to peace and harmony with the universe, but business is business.

To paraphrase Thomas More: "Whatever may be done by Texting, you may rely upon me to do."

A young man strolling down a residential neighborhood sees the plaintive plea stapled to a telephone pole-- "Please Help Me Find This Dog." Being a thoughtful, warm-hearted fellow, he does the most helpful thing he can think of- he whips out his cell phone (oh, who are we kidding? He had it in his hand already, of course!) and takes a photo of the sign.

Using the Verizon Network, he then sends the photo to the people in his address book. And now we get to see the photo bouncing from phone to phone- one person after another sees it (one woman shakes her head sadly before passing it along) and sends it along, until pretty much everyone in town has seen it.

The Happy Conclusion to all this texting is that the original Young Man With a Heart gets a text- FOUND THE DOG!! And we see the sad owner's face light up as she arrives home to see Young Man sitting on her front stoop, releasing the dog to run into Now Happy Owner's arms.

Here's my rather obvious observation: At no point in the commercial do we see anyone actually LOOKING FOR THE LOST DOG. Just passing the buck-- err, text message- to other people. The assumption of every single person who receives this text is clearly "someone else will find this dog. I'm doing the only thing I am capable of doing, the only thing I can reasonably be expected to do, by passing along this message."

The dog is "found" because among a group of girls who are petting the dog is one who happens to get the message. Wow, what a logic-bending coincidence: Just as I am petting this strange dog, I get a text message letting me know that it's a LOST dog. What shall I do in response? Well, that's also obvious: Text back, so that the original dog-searcher can come and get it and bring it to it's owner. Because even though I received a photo of the poster, because even though I have the dog in my possession, that doesn't mean I should be the one to actually GET OFF MY ASS AND RETURN THE DOG.

Also- what happens now? Does a wave of "The Dog Has Been Found" texts start circling the planet? Naw, why bother- it's not like anyone was lifting a finger (off their cell phones) to search anyway. Wouldn't this commercial had been more effective if all this texting had resulted in an army of people actually LOOKING FOR THE DOG? Ah, but that would have distracted the viewer from the main message, which seems to be "Verizon allows you to pretend to be a concerned individual while playing with your cell phone. With a few clicks, you've done your good deed for the day. Now get back to playing that stupid new game you just downloaded."

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Falling Leaves, a Chill in the Air, and a dungeon full of screaming victims- it must be Autumn

I'm watching the Redskins-Panthers game, and I'm being assaulted repeatedly by commercials for Saw VI. People screaming. People begging for mercy. People chained or tied to all kinds of nasty machines designed to inflict slow, agonizing death. And now, back to the game.

Seriously, can someone explain this to me? Six of these films, in six years. By now, it's pretty clear that there will never be any kind of resolution, which I thought was the reason why people went to the movies- because in real life, we don't get a lot of conclusions we can look forward to, but in film, we get storylines wrapped up in a satisfactory manner (and if we don't, we think "that's a pretty lousy film.") I've never seen any of these Saw films, but you'd have to have something seriously wrong with you if you think you are going to see an actual "conclusion" to the story in the sixth installment.

No, what you are going to get is more torture, more pain, more brutality, more begging, more blood- and an "ending" that lets you know what you were sure of when you walked in- that there will be a Saw VII, coming to your local theatre sometime next year, probably in time for Halloween. Which means that if you go to these movies, you are going simply because you enjoy watching people getting tortured.

Ok, maybe that's your thing. Personally, I think that anyone who has gone to more than one of these pointless violence-porn gorefests ought to be required to undergo a psychiatric screening, but that's just me. I don't wonder why these films are made- they aren't big budget, and they rake in tons of cash. I'll stick to the commercials- why do they have to run during the only time of the week where I engage in extended tv viewing? Why do they have to run during a sporting event no doubt being viewed by kids who (allegedly) can't get into the theatre to see the film anyway? In fact, why do they have to run at all- I'm pretty convinced that there's a core audience of people who have seen Saw I through Saw V which will march like lemmings to see Saw VI, VII, VIII, IX and X, due for release in October 2013. So why bother with commercials? Does the studio really think that people are going to see the ad and think "gee, that looks interesting. I think I'll check that out."

If so, I hope that he has second thoughts later- "nah, I didn't catch the first five installments. I'd be totally lost."

Thursday, October 8, 2009!

The voice on the radio sounds like a slower-speaking version of Andy Griffith's megalomaniac narcissist character Lonesome Rhodes in the classic A Face In The Crowd, jus' givin' us nice listeners the low-down on what these busy-bodies in Wash-in-tun are tryin' to con us into believin' about this-here whole global warmin' thing:

"Turns out, scientists now agree that the Earth has actually been coolin' over the past ten years- in fact, the las' ten years has been the coldest ever recorded!"

Well, good points, except that A) Ten years is a ridiculously short period upon which to try to detect a trend in climate change, B) the last ten years has NOT been the coldest ever recorded, or even close, and C) "most scientists" believe exactly the opposite. Other than that, well done.

"But there is some good news-- now all those Global Warmin' Elites can fly their private jets around the world guilt-free!"

Haha, excellent points!

A) Global Warmin'= Socialist/Marxist/Fascist Lie created to deprive you of your God-Given right to create as much pollution as you want and leave the planet as damaged as humanly possible. Go ahead, dump that old oil into the storm drain. God wants you to- it's mentioned in Leviticus somewhere.

B) Elites= People with an Education who think they are smarter than you are, the smartasses. They think that just because they went to school, they are smart. If they are so smart, why were they taken in by scams like Evolution, Global Warming, and Plate Tectonics? Morons.

C) Private Jets= All Liberals fly around in Private Jets, all the time. That's so they can sneer at us workin' folks from high altitude and not have to risk sitting next to us by flying Southwest. Damn Elites.

"Support Soundbites at" Well, give them credit for truth in advertising- if you go to the website, you are indeed encouraged to donate money to pay for more awesome commercials like this one. The "Institute for Policy Innovation" also encourages you to read articles explaining other "scams," why Obama's Health Care initiatives threaten your right to privacy, why Keynesian Economics is and always has been an unmitigated disaster (damn that FDR! Damn the Progressive Tax System!) and other subjects geared to advancing the organization's mission statement, which is advocating smaller government and lower taxation (through the spread of simple-minded platitudes and rank ignorance, I guess.)

No thanks, Lonesome. I'm sure it's because I'm an East Coast Elitist (sans private plane, what is the deal?) but I just don't get your Common Sense Wisdom. So I won't be Supporting Sound Bites for now. I am looking forward to hearing you snigger about Evil-ution and Tree-Huggers and this stupid recyclin' fad in the future. And what's the deal with this heliocentric universe crap? Go to it, Mr. Rhodes!

lower taxes,
fewer regulations,
and a smaller, less-
intrusive government.