Saturday, May 29, 2010

"No, Ma'am, I don't have ESP. I'm just an antisocial jerk."

First rule of salesmanship- do not reveal your utter contempt for the person you are trying to convince to buy your product. Remember, the customer has all the power until she has walked out of the store with your product in her cart. Acting like a total ass who doesn’t give a damn who she is or whether she buys what you are trying to sell is NOT the mark of a good salesman-however, I would take a moment to alert security that there is a crazy woman in the store who came in looking for shampoo but is now opening boxes and eating food she hasn't paid for. "I'll take a box?" Yes, you sure will, lady. That one in your hand.

Second rule of salesmanship- don’t be rude. I’ve never met a successful salesman who did what the guy in this FiberOne commercial does- insisting on interrupting the customer as she attempts to ask questions, treating her as if he wishes she would just get the hell out of his face and stop infringing on his personal space, and speaking to her through an upturned nose as if to say “Yes, you Illiterate American Monkey, there’s just as much fiber in this cereal as the box claims.”

Third rule of salesmanship- don’t let your customer know that you hate your job. The guy in this commercial looks and acts like a PhD discharged from his position at a prominent East Coast University because the administration and his fellow staff members simply could no longer bear to be around him- plus, there was that little “incident” with the coed. He looks and acts as if he’s just a few seconds away from murdering one of his lessors for daring to treat him as if he’s just a guy handing out free samples, and he wasn’t once one of the most brilliant physics professors to come out of Pakistan.

Fourth rule of salesmanship- Know your product. The less attractive it is, the better your pitch has to be. If you are selling pencil shavings stuffed with gluten that will create the sensation of having a rock in your abdomen if you manage to keep it down, you are going to have to come up with a seriously attractive ad campaign. The insufferable little knob who stars in this commercial acts as if Box O’ Twigs is something everyone loves to eat anyway, so his biggest problem should be keeping the shelves full.

Finally, FiberOne really ought to stop taking ad tips from Volkswagen- it really isn’t a good idea to leave your potential customers thinking “gee, what a dick” when the commercial ends.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

You WILL be Assimilated

I bet this guy had dreams, once. I bet they didn't include growing up to be fat, balding patsy for Dominos, willingly whoring out his miserable life and his equally trailer park-ready wife and clinging spawn for a few seconds of "fame," such as it is.

I mean, just look at this choad. We are told that he's "one of the few holdouts" who have yet to try Dominos "new" pizza. Well, how DARE he not want to add to his already-likely spiking cholesterol count by chowing down on Dominos patented carbs, cheese, and sugar-laded tomato sauce, delivered right to your door so you don't even have to get off your expanding butt any longer than it takes to hand over the cash?

Maybe Scott realized that while the Rogaine didn't work, it wasn't too late to increase his intake of fruits, veggies and whole grains and cut out the processed crap, only to discover that his decision to actually consider what he's putting into his mouth means he's going to be harassed from all angles, with billboards and banners projecting a spotlight on the nonconformist until he joins the rest of America in the Land of the Morbidly Obese?

So which is it, Scott? Are you just a shameless loser who thought that America would enjoy watching you and your ugly family pretend to succumb to peer pressure and finally accept the fact that eating greasy, artery-clogging junk is What We Do Here in the USA? Or are you a guy who had just decided to turn his life around, only to be stalked by a pizza franchise until you agreed to shovel poison into your mouth while muttering "this is really good (and hopefully thought-bubbling "now please, I beg of you- get off my porch, before McDonald's learns I haven't taken advantage of their Two Triple Cheeseburgers for Three Dollars Deal- my doctor said that my next coronary will almost certainly be my last?")

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sucks to be you, parents of children age 5-10

Owen Wilson. George Lopez. Digitally created dogs doing things real dogs can't do. Digitally created dogs doing things real dogs do all the time- things we don't watch in real life and don't want to see on a giant screen. An hour and a half of dog-related "humor," including a fire hydrant/ scoop and poop jokes arriving, by my best estimate, roughly every four or five minutes.

Maybe you don't think your kid is stupid enough, and you decide to pour gasoline over his brain cells by taking him to see this unbelievably bad-looking pile of dreck. Maybe you think "aw, 90 minutes isn't very long- no matter how bad it is, it will be over before I know it." Here's a reminder- ninety minutes can, under the wrong circumstances, be a very long time. Imagine watching three straight episodes of "Hello, Dear."

Maybe you think you'll be spending time in the theater restroom- that will kill four or five minutes, right? And another ten minutes at the candy counter- best $20 you ever spent, because you are being spared having to sit there and watch Marmaduke do intensely unfunny things and listen to the kid you once thought might go to Harvard laugh hysterically at each and every one. And that kid being spared hearing from his father "you are not my son."

(Well, that's what I would say.)

Maybe you didn't pay attention to the trailer, so you thought that this would be a family-friendly, "sure it's manipulative and witless but at least it has a nice message" inoffensive way to spend an afternoon. But here's the message I got from the two minutes of pain I put myself through to create this blog post: Big dogs can't be trained. Moron dog owners who leave untrained big dogs in houses have every right to be outraged when that untrained big dog acts like...well, a dog. Oh, and Moron Dog Owners who aren't willing to train big dogs are perfectly justified in crating up that big dog and sending it away.

Animals are disposable. Yes, that's the message we should ALL want our little ones to absorb. Right?

I don't go to movies because the last two times I attempted to watch a film in a theater, I had to yell at someone to put their god damned cell phone away. For Marmaduke, however, I would give adults a pass. Text, tweet, and download away, people. I mean, desperate times call for desperate measures. Hell, feel free to take out your Flo TVs- maybe there's something good on. Sure, you paid to gain entrance into the theater- that doesn't mean you should be forced to watch this stinking pile of refuse.

But before you give in and toss your offspring into the back of the family SUV to head off to the local multiplex, ask yourself this: Wouldn't it be better to just say No, bring your kids to the park to see real dogs and enjoy some fresh air (keep your cell phone in your pocket- those kids will be adults before you can blink) and avoid in advance being bugged to take them to see Marmaduke II, III and IV?

Friday, May 21, 2010

"Eureka" This, you smarmy little prick

Why is this my least favorite of the apparently infinite "Eureka Moment" natural gas commercials?

Maybe it's the condescending smirk/half-suppressed laugh this guy opens his little monologue with- "Sure, Wind and Solar are important (snigger)....but (HELLO!) it's not always breezy and the sun....sets."

Thank you, Mr. Smug Non-Scientist. None of us were aware of these "drawbacks." I'm sure all believed that the wind is always blowing and the sun is always shining.

Maybe it's the "we need a reliable, consistent source of energy." Who is this "We?" Each and every one of these commercials comes packaged with the false notion that "America's Natural Gas" is actually America's Natural Gas- that if we just started drilling for it, when it came out of the ground it would belong to us, and NOT some massive corporation which would instantly put it on the world market, on sale to the highest bidder, JUST LIKE OIL IS NOW. Unless you are calling for the Nationalization of the Natural Gas Industry (and trust me, the people buying these commercials are doing no such thing) this amazing source of energy, which exists "right under our feet," will be as much "ours" as Saudi Oil is right now. And speaking of oil...

Maybe it's the fact that while wind and solar are constantly dismissed as Let's-Face-It-Really-Stupid-Nonstarters in these ads, oil never is. In fact, in most commercials, the weekend teapartier giving us his non-expert take on the situation remarks "we've got LOTS of oil...." (there's that "we" again.) Yes, and we all know how easy and cheap and safe it is to get oil out of the ground now, don't we? These guys couldn't make it more obvious that what they REALLY want is more drilling rights for oil, and oh by the way we'll be getting to all that wonderful natural gas sometime in the future...when it's practical....and that's when you can expect those hundreds of thousands of jobs, too. Right around the corner. And when we decide to go after that gas- that's going to be really easy, right? Not like collecting energy from wind and solar power. Just stick a straw in the ground, and out the gas comes, right? Right? I mean, at least you can drill when there's no wind and the sun is down- which makes oil and gas more practical, right? And besides...

"It's twice as clean as coal." Yes, and a Big Mac has fewer calories than a bucket of KFC. Is that an effective pitch for an All-Big Mac Diet? Really? Here's a tip- want to be taken seriously? Don't compare the "cleanliness" of your product to coal. There's almost nothing DIRTIER than coal. This guy looks about twice as smart as Sarah Palin. Tell him I said that, and see if he takes it as a compliment.

But I think it's probably the "Eureka Baby" this ass signs off with. Why "Eureka, Baby?" None of the other spokeschoads uses the term "baby." Is this the way the makers of the commercials think that young, hip black guys talk here in America? Should I just be thankful the guy isnt' wearing his pants around his knees, has a ring on each finger and doesn't punctuate his opening smirk with "Yo, Listen Up Dawg?" I mean, can we BE a little more insulting, "America's Natural Gas?"

I've seen about half a dozen of these horrible commercials, and they all rub me the wrong way because they all carry the same nasty message- "hey morons, the answer is right under your feet. Why can't you see it, retards? Wind and Solar? Haha that's cute, what are you, a bunch of tree-hugging Obama-voting Gore Losermans who want us to live in caves?"

And if you look really closely into the blue screen, I'm pretty sure you can make out the real message: "Drill Baby Drill."

Eureka, Baby.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Whine of the put-upon Investor Class

"I thought investment firms were there to take my small contributions and convert them into mountains of money while I slept."

"If I had my way, Investment firms would take breaks from making me bucketloads of cash only to kiss my ass or shine my shoes."

"I don't see why I should be paying someone to take MY money and turn it into MORE money. I mean, what's that all about?"

"If I were Ruler of the Fucking Universe, Investment Firms would be knocking each other over for the chance to make me rich, not charging me just because it requires work do to this."

Anyone else sick to death of these whiny a-holes bitching because the investment firms THEY HIRED have the GALL to (gasp) CHARGE them for the work they do? I mean, I'm sure that these morons don't expect to get paid for the hours they spend doing whatever the hell it is they do to earn the investment money in the first place, right? Is it the 10% unemployment rate, and the fact that the average unemployed person in the US has been out of work for more than six months, that causes commercials featuring pampered Privileged Class assholes complaining about investment fees to drive me up the wall? Is it the very idea that I'm supposed to feel some level of affinity or sympathy for these idiots that sets me off?

If I had my way, when pricks like this smug little rodent walks into her boss's office to ask for a raise, she instead gets a speech about how much the CEO of his company wishes that employees would just work to make him money without expecting to be paid for their labor. "It seems to me that my employees could just work their asses off instead of constantly bothering me about things like salaries and working conditions."

"Investors Rule?" Is this the 21st century version of "The Customer is Always Right?" Isn't Schwab digging itself a nice little hole here- "we'll do it for you for next to nothing, really!"

Didn't Homer Simpson win an election as Garbage Commissioner with lines like this?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

An open letter to Volkswagen

Dear Volkswagen,

I first noticed that "Punch Dub Days" had arrived back in March, and I quickly noted the ugliness of an ad campaign based on the "fun" experience of punching people in the arm. Well, I thought, at least "Punch Dub Days" won't last very long. And there have been worse sales pitches (though not many.)

But now we are three months in to watching people punch friends, neighbors, grandparents, children and innocent bystanders-- HARD-- each time using the excuse that one of your overrated automobiles- not ONE of which is an actual Volkswagen Bug- has just cruised by at a dangerous speed. And I can tell you that what was annoying in March has become downright nauseating in May.

Really, for how long do you intend to subject us to this viciousness? Do you really think it's funny or entertaining to watch grampa get socked in the nuts by his grandson as they wait for the light to change? To watch one passive-aggressive moron after another slam their fists into the person next to them, sometimes knocking them off-balance in the process? To watch a huffing and puffing pregnant woman take a moment away from measured breathing to listlessly slam her fist into her life partner's shoulder?

Do you realize that the actors in these commercials themselves seem thoroughly sick of this pitch? The punches are becoming heavier, more intentionally damaging, while the "Black Ones!' and "Red Ones!" are more and more formulaic and matter-of-fact. And the victims? They look ready to respond with a knife or a gun. And I can't say I blame them.

Can we please move on now? Violence is not funny. Your "Punch Dub Days" concept, harkening back to an earlier era of automotive travel in which Volkswagen made Bugs which looked different from all other cars on the road, was never a clever one. And now it's gone to seed. So please, spare us any further "let's watch people slam their fists into each other" commercials, ok? They aren't humorous, they don't make me want to buy one of your cars, and they don't leave me with a good opinion of your company. Quite frankly, they leave me angry and disgusted.

Please, let it go. We in the real world don't want to play your stupid, mean-spirited "game." And I for one am bored out of my mind watching cruelty played up as humor in your ads.


You can actually HEAR your Arteries Harden

I’m willing to give a pass to the people carrying each other on their backs to “illustrate” something that doesn’t need to be illustrated to anyone smarter than a mentally ill box turtle. After all, I’ve been to IHOP once or twice, and my guess is that these choads approximate quite accurately the average IQ level of the regular customers. Especially since regulars are usually stumbling in at 3 AM drunk out of their skulls. I'm sure I've seen that guy bumping his head against the lights in the closing moments before- and his girth certainly suggests that he's no stranger to unhealthy food choices.

I’m even willing to give a pass to the casting of an implausibly beautiful, white actress to play the role of IHOP hostess. Doesn’t match my experience in any way, but hey, there are a lot of IHOPS out there. I’m not sure that there are a lot of lovely young women choosing to make minimum wage handing out menus to tipsy morons at 3 AM instead of walking through any of the many other doors open to them, but like I said, I’ll give this a pass to get to my main gripe...

Cheesecake between pancakes, covered in “strawberry” flavoring? Really? This “breakfast” would be only slightly more dangerous if it came with a nice hot cup of strychnine. And I’m sure that the people who order it are encouraged to add sides- bacon, sausages, hash browns, etc. ("all your favorites.") Very nice- a three-day supply of fat and calories on one big plate. Real time-saver.

And if you really eat this crap, you’ll need to save time whenever you can, because you haven’t got much to spare.

(I'd like to give the benefit of the doubt to the black guy who pauses for a moment with an overladen fork in front of his mouth- perhaps he isn't stunned by the sudden appearance of a Human Tower of Fat. Perhaps he's experiencing an epiphany- "what am I doing to myself?")

I know it’s not IHOP or KFC’s job to end the obesity epidemic all by themselves, but does that mean they have to be fighting on the other side? Pancake Stackers, Double Down Sandwiches, Super Sizing...I just don’t see how the promoters of good nutrition keep up. In a few decades, when triple bypass surgery becomes oddly routine and people end up selling their houses to pay for the treatment of medical conditions brought on by years of disgustingly gluttonous eating habits, will any of these restaurants be held culpable in any way?

Oh, who am I kidding. In a couple of years, IHOP will be selling us donut cheeseburgers and KFC will be promoting Buckets of Just Skin. And people will be wheeling in on their Segways to chow down. Sick.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Have you Driven a Ford Lately? Well, now you have no choice!

Pardon the pun, but haven't ad agencies gotten enough mileage out of the lame "swap" theme already? We've seen decent coffee swapped for Folger's Crystals without complaint (oh PLEASE!! If you can't tell the difference between decent coffee and instant, get your taste buds swapped!,) Owen Wilson's brother swapping out cell phones, Italian Restaurant-goers being fed Domino's pasta and liking it (what a crappy restaurant, I mean come on!) And now we've got people losing their cars for a week and being forced to drive Fords. What did they do to deserve this? What did WE do?

Right off the bat, I really can't get past this guy's thumbs-hooked-to-his-belt, hilariously exaggerated "man pose" in the opening scene. What's the matter, couldn't figure out how to gut a fish or chop down a redwood while introducing Ford's latest ad idea?

Setting aside Mr Testosterone for a moment, let's examine this woman's reaction to being told that Ford has taken possession of her reliable Honda Civic and has left her to drive a brand-new Ford Focus for the next seven days. (This has been accomplished with the help of her "friends" and family-- kind of an Intervention for people who own cars of which we do not approve, I guess.) Well, she's quite thrilled at the idea. After all, it IS only seven days- and Fords are actually pretty reliable for periods well beyond a week. I've known people who have owned Fords which have provided excellent service for months before needing major work.

Of course, the gushing over the car is all about the pointless little gadgets Ford has thrown in to distract you from the fact that- well, it's a Ford. "My Civic doesn't have Bluetooth...." Um, no, it doesn't, unless of course you get it installed. It will, however, easily reach 200,000 miles with simple, regular maintenance, which means your Civic will be on the streets several years after this Ford Focus has rusted out, collapsed from within and been turned into a cube.

"I can say 'Destination,'...." Yes, and if you install a $100 GPS in your Honda (like I did on mine,) you can get directions with the push of a few buttons, too. True, you'll actually have to push buttons and you can't just command it to give you directions, like you can on this Ford Focus, but guess what? In a couple of years, all the yelling in the world won't make this shiny piece of trash move at all. Maybe you'll be yelling at it the very moment I drive past in your old Civic, which you foolishly traded in to buy this junk.

This commercial ends with Mr. Hooked Thumbs barking near-orders at Easily Seduced Woman, to which she responds with one-word affirmatives. She's sold. She wants a Ford Focus. Because it's shinier than her Honda Civic and it has these little gadgets. My guess is that she thinks Folger's Crystals makes awesome coffee and Domino's pasta should be sold out of Milanese Restaurants. All I know is, she's easily conned, and I'll be swinging by Ford to buy her old Civic.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Morons of the World Unite; You Have Nothing to Lose but your Wires

Once again, our friends in the wireless industry demonstrate their total lack of shame, humility, or any sense of boundaries in their never-ending quest to convince us that their stupid little toys are not only absolutely vital to our individual abilities to survive through the ups and downs of our daily lives, but are the fricking glue holding civilization together.

Seriously- "Let Freedom Ring?" By caressing phone screens and bringing up maps, downloading videos, posting youtube clips, twittering, etc? This is what our concept of "Freedom" has descended to?

Does it matter to those coldblooded assholes that most of the planet is living on less than 1000 calories a day, with no stable electrical grid or clean water supply, under regimes more likely to round them up and "disappear" them than provide basic services or the FREEDOMS we in the Western World take for granted? Does it matter to any of these ghouls that for most of our fellow voyagers here on Spaceship Earth, "freedom" is either a dream or the punchline to an unfunny joke- the "freedom" to obey or be stamped on by Big Brother? Did any of these human pustules stop to think about how rare and beautiful and utterly SIMPLE real "freedom" is before they decided to connect it to ownership of an expensive beeping little box?

How about this- did any of these vampires ever think that as long as they are going to kidnap and rape the word "Freedom" in order to sell a wireless service, maybe they ought to at least- oh, I don't know- pledge a percentage of profits to an organization like Amnesty International?

Naw. Why bother when you can just use "Freedom" like other ad agencies use "Love" and "Hero" and "Pioneer" and "Bravery"-- empty shells of words which once meant something important and timeless, but today all mean exactly one thing: Buy This. Turns out that those "Freedom isn't Free" bumper stickers were right. Freedom isn't Free- it requires a two-year service plan.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Could you turn off your teeth? I'm trying to get some sleep!

This is almost unbelievably bad. For one thing, there's no script- just women insisting that their recently-arrived friend with the freakish glowing mouth is "in love" (how exactly does love make your teeth capable of warning ships away from rocky coasts, anyway?) and brushing off her "no I'm nots" with pointless "yes you are" blather.

Second, good lord, what is with that mouth? Change the shading to green, and I'd think this woman had just eaten a bowl of nuclear waste. Her busybody loser friends really ought be put on their blublockers before their retinas burn out for good.

Finally- you've got great teeth, lady. We GET IT. If you don't want people to think that something's different about you, stop grinning like a lunatic. Nobody's telling great jokes, your "friends" don't look like the type of people to fill one with irrepressible delight, and we aren't interested in actually counting your pearlies, ok? You want people to stop asking you what's up? Stop showing us your damned gums already. You look like a moron.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A great commercial for Birth Control

Oh, look at the adorable "picky eater." We know she's adorable because she speaks in a high-pitched sing-song voice and has pigtails (otherwise, we'd have no clue. Believe me.)

"We really need some broccoli" says mom out loud. Why she's speaking out loud, I don't know. Why she's speaking at all, I don't know. Because clearly, she really ought to be just asking the person in charge what she wants to eat.

"I don't like broccoli" announces the little monster. An "I've heard this before" look crosses Mommy's face, but the broccoli goes in the cart, and we move on.

"And....some chicken" says mom. (Maybe she's trying to build vocab skills for her spawn of Satan?)

"I don't like chicken" announces her daughter. Again, look of despair from Mommy. Kind of odd, because Mommy has the answer...

A six-pack of PediaSure comes off the shelf. Daughter responds with a really creepy "I see I've trained you well, monkey" look on her face- a look which is repeated later, as we see her sipping the white liquid as mom hovers nearby, apparently ready to take the nasty stuff away if her Precious Little One expresses the slightest displeasure at this most recent- but assuredly not first- attempt to appease the brat.

"I don't think I like waffles....." is the last line we get from this wretched little monster as her mother, no doubt cursing her own fertility, heads down the aisle again in yet another vain attempt to find some solid food her daughter will eat without bitching.

What a great message. If your 5-year old "won't" eat vegetables, meat, etc, no problem- just keep looking until you find some food they will "agree" to consume without causing disharmony in the home (which, as we all know from the example set by Veruca Salt's parents, is most important anyway.) Don't try different recipes to make veggies and poultry more attractive. Don't model good eating habits. Just cater. Who cares if the kid never learns to consume important vitamins and minerals naturally? There are pills for that.

And there are pills for mommy, too, when she finally cracks from spending every waking hour trying to appease this brat. Because I'm pretty damned sure this doesn't start and end with food- I'm sure Daughter doesn't like the radio station mommy listens to in the car, the wallpaper in the living room, the clothes she and mommy picked out yesterday, or the preschool's selection of playground equipment. What's your answer to that problem, PediaSure?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

"Mine is a very familiar story..."

“Hi, I’m Ellen. Like pretty much every woman on tv who is sharing screen time with a guy, I’m smart, competent, and cute. I’m also long-suffering because of my friend Dave, here. Like pretty much every guy on tv who is sharing screen time with a girl, Dave is a fat, clueless bag of uncombed, unshaven fertilizer who couldn’t find his ass with two flashlights and a GPS.”

“As is always the case with the female side of any guy-girl relationship on television, my cool industriousness keeps our small corner of the world from spinning into chaos, while Dave would probably stick his foot into a bucket of water while sucking on a power cord if I let him out of my sight for more than five minutes.

I’m long-suffering, because my ‘partner,’ Dave here, is constantly attempting to undermine our ability to survive in a competitive environment merely by Being Dave- a clunky, clumsy, worthless road block I must be constantly swerving around as I drag us both to the top.

I imagine that Dave and I would be getting our own sitcom in the near future, except for the fact that- let’s face it- our story has been told a thousand times on a thousand different shows dating back to the 1970s at least. Actually, I’m pretty sure that Hugh Beaumont was the last fully functional male to appear on an American television, and even he had to be pulled back to the straight and narrow by Barbara Billingsley from time to time.

So for now, please sit back and enjoy episode #213,497 in television’s longest-running show, “The Adventures of Intelligent Beautiful Woman and her Dimwitted Dumbass Male Partner.’ My only request is that you continue to avoid asking the obvious question- ‘why does she put up with this shit?’ Because to that query, I’m sorry to report, there is no answer.”

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

After serious consideration, I've decided that I'd rather just be sad

What? You’re taking an anti-depressant, and you STILL find yourself huddled in the dark corner of the palatial estate your husband slaved to provide for you? Ok, Drama Queen- since you insist, we are going to add something to your treatment- a prescription for Abilify.

Now, we should tell you that there ARE some possible side effects. Nothing to be all that concerned about- but Tell Your Doctor if you experience thoughts of suicide.

“Gosh, doctor, thoughts of suicide are why I asked for an anti-depressant in the first place. I’m starting to suspect that Abilify is just a sugar pill.”

Oh yeah? Well, would taking a sugar pill increase risk of Death and Stroke in some patients? How about fever and stiff muscles? Confusion? Uncontrollable muscle movement which “may become permanent?” High blood sugar, which may lead to Coma or Death? Dizziness upon standing? Seizures? Impaired Motor Skills? Trouble Swallowing? Did I mention DEATH? That would be some sugar pill, wouldn’t it?

“Adding Abilify has made a difference for me.” Yes, we can see that. Sometimes you almost manage to smile, though it still looks like your face would shatter if you didn’t fall back into your usual mope immediately afterwards.

We thought Abilify would help in your case. It’s hard to remember that you are depressed when you are fighting off the most horrifying list of side effects every associated with a drug which is supposed to make life more bearable. (The deep, dark secret pharmaceutical companies don’t want you to know: Life isn’t Supposed to be Much More than Bearable.)

And being followed by Glenn Beck’s chalkboard? Just a friendly reminder that you’ve been catered to long enough. Now shut up, half-smile, and walk aimlessly up and down piers with your family in between sitting in dark theaters. Because we won’t have anything more mind-altering than Abilify available until at least Labor day.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Get your free sample off the coast of Louisiana, any day now!

Oh, ,what joy! A group of fun-loving cartoon infants rolling down the road, heading for who-knows-where to do who-knows-what, rejecting Brand X gas along the way despite the fact that the needle is rapidly approaching "E." (Not only rejecting, but rejecting with rank disdain- I believe that one of the cartoon babies actually holds it's nose at the idea of filling the tank with Not-BP Gasoline.)

Finally, our animated toddlers have discovered a BP station ("Say Hey!") and can continue their odyssey knowing that their gas tank is filled with Only The Best. Off they go, into the Pale Green Yonder.

From this commercial, let a million parodies bloom. Where are these kids going? I sure hope it's not the Gulf of Mexico, where their "We love BP" song may not go over so well among the larger population of car-driving children who have already stopped singing to note the economic disaster which has washed ashore on once-pristine beaches. No smiling fish, shrimp, crabs, oysters or seagulls here! And I doubt that green would be the prominent color, either, except of course in the thought-bubbles of BP execs, who decided that a $500,000 shut-off valve was an unnecessary expense for a company that made more than $4 billion in profits last quarter.

So please, all you wonderful, computer-savvy artists out there- let's see your best efforts snarking all over this commercial, which sure seems to be trying to sell us on the idea that the way to joyful times and endless fun is gasoline courtesy of British Petroleum. (Tell it to the waterfowl, assholes.) I'll be watching YouTube in hopeful anticipation, and will embed my favorite videos right here. Don't let me down!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Another Crazy Woman and her I-Phone

"We decided we wanted a dog." I can only assume that "we" means the female narrator and her f--ing I-Phone, because my brain rebels against the idea of this woman having a relationship with another human being. Anyway, allow me to paraphrase the next line- "I wasn't willing to get off my expanding ass to go to the shelter, so I ran my finger along the screen of my Life Partner until I found a local shelter which had conveniently taken photos of every dog it had available."

Back to the actual script: "We fell in love with Bailey." Well, that's nice. Cute dog.

"We took millions of pictures." Seriously? Millions? Of a dog?

"Of course, we sent them to all our friends." You mean ex-friends. Or Facebook friends- the ones you've never met, will never meet, don't give a damn that you live and won't bat an eye when you die. The kind that don't mind being buried by photographs of your dog, or being reminded that you are really, really nuts about your I-Phone.

"And when we couldn't take him with us..." we set up a webcam and kept an eye on him with....well, what else?

"Thanks to my I-Phone, our family is now.....complete!" Yes, it is. You, your I-Phone, and a dog. I hope you are all very happy together. And I guess it's some comfort that your dog will never know that he would have had no chance of being adopted by you if you hadn't purchased an I-Phone, because God Fucking Forbid you were going to flip through some philistine phone book to find a shelter and head over to, I don't know, actually look at a real live dog instead of picking one out based on a tiny photo. Because I'm sure I'm wrong here, but it seems to me that choosing a family pet might require a little more effort than ordering a pizza or buying a pair of sneakers online.

We all know that it's only a matter of time before people are adopting children through a downloadable App, right? Are we all ready to act surprised when this happens?

The Sad Demise of the "History" Channel

I love history. When I was a kid, I'd spend hours poring over old history textbooks, looking for maps, graphs and charts and reading about Abraham Lincoln, Daniel Webster, and Andrew Jackson. I'd draw maps of imaginary battle sites and imagine that I was the general leading troops to victory. I'd give speeches like I was Henry Clay addressing the Senate. I was what you'd call a geek, I guess- still am.

There used to be a cable channel made just for people like me. It was called The History Channel. Sure, it was overladen with World War II footage- there are only so many times I really care to see "Hitler's Generals" and "Dogfights!" and interviews with ancient vets, but I understood that the channel's archives contained several million miles of footage so what the heck? And sure, the channel's producers seemed to have a bit of an obsession with the occult- multiple "Salem Witch Trials" and "Secrets of Nostradamus" (and "Secrets of Nostradamus's SON") programs got a bit wearisome.

But something very tragic has happened to this history geek's favorite cable channel. It's simply not about "History" anymore. Check out this lineup: Axe Men, Pawn Stars, Monster Quest, Ancient Aliens: The Series, UFO Hunters, That's Impossible, Gangland, Ice Road Truckers (on the air roughly six hours a day.) I mean, what the hell? When did The History Channel decide to pick up programming ideas found in the dumpsters behind USA and TBS?

It's really depressing when your odds of finding a HISTORY program on The History Channel are only slightly better than your odds of finding a music video on MTV. I can't imagine why history geeks would want to watch the current version of The History Channel. Or non-history geeks, for that matter.

Hey, History Channel- how about getting back to showing us, you know, History? I imagine it's cheaper and safer to just copy the other lame, shoestring-budget cable offerings out there, but as one of the Axe Men opines into the camera you shoved in his face, "Life without Risks is Mediocre." So is your current lineup. Mediocre, and not History.