Saturday, December 31, 2011

And once again, we'll let AT&T's war on society wrap up the year

It just wouldn't seem right if the last post of the year did not have as it's subject "cell phones and the royal assholes they turn us into," would it?

Here's a guy out to dinner at what looks like a nice restaurant (it sure doesn't have a Golden Corral feel-where's the chocolate waterfall? And it's not a Cici's- no sign of cheesy deliciousity here.) His date is aware that there's a football game on- the very first time he glances down, she asks if he's checking it.

(There's clearly a back story here- maybe they had a bit of an argument about going out this particular night. She wanted to get out of the house and have a romantic dinner. He wanted to stay home and squeeze in sex during halftime. She "won" the argument, this time, but she knows what that's worth when it comes to this selfish, self-absorbed dick...)

Naturally (and to the delight of the YouTube chimps, who find a way to laugh and applaud pretty much everything they see on the Big Shiny Box, when they aren't obsessing over the background music) the Guy plays Injured Party, throwing it back to his date, suggesting that she must think he's some kind of wizard if she believes he can check the game from their table. "What am I, some kind of 'Summoner,' and I can just 'Summon' stats on my phone?" Because his girlfriend has been in a box since 1995, and because she's kind of sad and desperate, she buys this, until...

Being a Guy On Television, this Jackass simply cannot restrain himself from being an absolute moron, audibly responding to what he sees on his phone even as his girlfriend expresses concern about their relationship. Yep, we've seen this show before, haven't we? Be it Beer, McRib Sandwiches, or Football, the hold Stuff has on guys is far more powerful than that of the clingy, sensitive, serious woman, who after all will Still Be There at Halftime. So go ahead and be a cruel, insufferable jerk, buddy- she isn't going anywhere. This is Television, and on television women may be the brainy, well-dressed, organized, sensitive and sensible ones, but they have a fatal weakness the guys do not have- they simply MUST be in a relationship, even if it's with pigs like this.

You just KNOW that this evening ends with Girlfriend sitting there at the table, arms crossed, with a bitter, resigned look on her face, while the other males at the restaurant gather around the guy and watch the game on his phone, occasionally hooting with delight. If she's really pissed, he'll drop by Kay Jewelers this weekend and pick her up a chunk of rocks on a string. That will make everything better.

And that's it for Year Three of my blog- I can't believe that when I started this, I thought I'd run out of ads to mock after a few weeks. I apologize, Ad Agencies of America, for my lack of faith. See you in 2012!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Hey, Golden Corral: Put Lipstick on a pig, and it's still a pig!

Ok, I'm going to be a total elitist snob in this post. I can just imagine this stupid "chocolate waterfall" becoming the talk of neighborhoods populated with the kind of rubes who think that Golden Corral is the place you go for "special" occasions like Bowling League night or to celebrate winning the Horseshoe tourney (for mom's birthday, it's Denny's. For weddings, it's Olive Garden or Sizzler.) If I close my eyes I can SEE the sweatpants and fuzzy sweaters brigade ogling all the yummy steam vats full of fried chicken and shrimp, cube steaks and gravy, mac and cheese, etc that hold out the promise of maybe 30 minutes or so of shameless gorging.

Here's what else I can see- a line of disgusting, sweaty, sticky-fingered barely-bipeds poking pretty much everything imaginable into this chocolate dust-and-grease magnet. French fries. Chicken wings. Aforementioned sticky fingers. "Looky, everythin' tastes better when it's got chocolate on it, am I right or am I right? Strawberries? Ain't they related to them there fruit things? Hey, if we wanted healthy food, what would we be doin' at Golden Corral?"

Putting a chocolate fountain in a Golden Corral is kind of like offering champagne and caviar at a baseball game. It's like shopping for fine jewelry at a Dollar Store- at first glance it might look high-class, but then you remember where you are and think "wait, something is really, really wrong here..." (I mean, what's next- a waiter walking around with a giant pepper shaker at Cici's?)

Of course, this is exactly the thought that should be going through your mind if you find yourself at the Golden Corral in the first place. Then you should be asking "am I really this sad? Do I really need to be eating this crap? Do I really want to be associated with these people? (The "It made my jaw DROP" woman just made my day. Not to mention the guy explaining "I love chocolate, have since I was a kid." Wow, awesome insight coming from a guy who I PROMISE you does not take the feed store cap off during his "meal.")

Do I really think it's super-awesome that there's this liquid chocolate, and super-funny that Uncle Charlie just took a break from scooping meatloaf on to his plate to roll an ear of corn through it?"

Oh, and BTW- you tell me what is more disturbing here- that Golden Corral felt it was necessary to put up a huge sign which reads "Do Not Put Hands In Fountain," or that more than a dozen people decided to whip out their cell phones, capture this thing on video, and post it to YouTube?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

This guy has a television show, and I can't average more than 400 hits a day?

Life is so unfair.

Here's an barely literate moron who's claim to fame is his refusal to admit wrong after using a false claim of racial attack to get himself on television almost thirty years ago. After a couple of decades of camera-mugging, he made a run for the Democratic Party's nomination for President which the word "quixotic" does not really begin to describe, doing his best to ruin each debate he was inexplicably invited to with his bizarre rants and disconnected, broken word salads.

Then Keith Olbermann and Cenck Uyger made the mistake of being Progressive instead of Establishment Democrats and were shown the door by MSNBC. That created room for faux Progressive "Leftists" (yeah, right) like Lawrence O'Donnell and this worthless bag of wind. So we get gems like this commercial, in which Reverend Al sputters something about blueberry pie ( I think; I don't speak Sharptonese.)

Anyway, this is all really pointless and stupid and irritating because we are reminded that this pathetic snake oil salesman has somehow managed to land a highly-paid television gig in which he is promoted as a serious political commentator. As far as I'm concerned, this is like asking Dennis Miller to grade the State of the Union Address or Rush Limbaugh to call plays on Monday Night Football- it just doesn't work, because the speaker can't beg, borrow or steal an ounce of credibility.

"They were ones that were eatin' the pie!" And you were the one giving me the migraine. I think I'd rather hear that BIG BIG BIG Smart Car commercial 45 times an hour (easily accomplished by watching Olbermann or Uyger on Current TV) than spend five minutes watching this blowhard. Hey MSNBC, there's real talent out there- maybe the next time there's a slot open, you might actually try to find some of it? Because this is just one small step away from giving Mark Furman a set and an early evening time slot.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Decorative toe tag comes with upgrade, just pay separate shipping and handling!

I was just coming in from a walk on Christmas Eve and I caught the last few seconds of this wonderful little gem. As jaded as I am, I really thought that it was a parody of the Snuggie ads. Imagine my delight when I realized that no, the makers of these things are dead serious. They really thing these things are a good idea- or, at least, a salable one.

Ok, I can remember an episode of Seinfeld in which Jerry notes that George has taken to wearing sweatpants on a daily basis. Jerry admonishes George that wearing sweatpants in public is a sign that he has simply given up. I wonder what Seinfeld could have done with this advertisement, which spends more than a minute gushing about how gosh-darned wonderful it would be if we could just get used to walking around wearing our own body bags.

It starts off reasonably enough ( I mean, compared to other commercials for similar products.) We are reminded about how freaking cold our houses are, and how damned expensive heating oil is. As long as we keep our shades drawn and live alone, and never have company drop in, I guess this "Forever Lazy" outfit (it looks like the thing Ralphie was forced to wear in A Christmas Story to me) makes a little bit of sense. But, just like the Snuggie commercials, it then goes too far- it shows people wearing these "All that matters is my comfort, fuck you society" outfits in family settings and IN PUBLIC without even the slightest trace of irony.

Except, does it? "You'll be the talk of the tailgate." Oh, I have absolutely no doubt of that. If you wear one of these things to the tailgate party- or anywhere else where you might actually come into contact with civilized human beings- I have no doubt that you will be the talk of everyone who sees you. Why this is a good thing from the wearer's perspective? That's another question.

And the absolute best part of this ad- in fact, I think the best part of any commercial I've seen all year- is the "handy front pocket for emergencies" we are told about as we watch a happy Forever Lazy customer dash into the restroom. Ok, so we are all officially four years old now? We needn't worry about having an "accident" in our "Forever Lazy" wrappers, because the front just unbuttons in
a flash- hey, that's another improvement from these annoying belts and zippers!

Now just attach a convenient, disposable rubber bladder to the front flap, and I can sit through an afternoon of football without ever leaving my couch. Gosh, why would we ever wear anything BUT Forever Lazy?

Actually, I think that's the goal of the people who make things like Snuggies and Forever Lazy- in the end, they want us to discard actual clothes altogether and just stumble through life looking like overgrown telly tubbies, except with the little televisions in our hands rather than implanted on our stomachs. Speaking of stomachs- we will be free to allow them to get much bigger once we are all draped in flowing robes or sweatsuits with footsie socks and hoods. What a perfect response to the obesity epidemic- "clothes" which render us shapeless masses of flesh covered in cheap fabric.

Well, we may look stupid (even dumber than we did in our Pajama Jeans,) but at least no one will know how fat we are until they've already committed to engaging in sexual intercourse. And we'll never have to worry about those annoying little "accidents" again. Thanks, Forever Lazy!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Just like the rest of us, Santa gets dumber, duller and more helpless every year

Since his first appearance in popular literature, which was probably "A Visit From Saint Nicholas" (published in 1823,) Santa Claus and Christmas have, for many people, gone together like turkey and Thanksgiving. Thomas Nast gave him a recognizable face in the 1870s, and soon the jolly fat guy's run as the most successful marketing gimmick of all time was under way.

In the 20th century, we got Santa Claus-themed greeting cards, candy, cartoons, car commercials- heck, there was hardly a product the big guy WASN'T selling between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. But whether he was helping Jim Varney save Christmas or sliding down a hill on an electronic razor, one thing remained constant: Santa was always on top of the situation, always in charge.

Not anymore.

On television, Santa has joined the rest of the electronics-addicted population in being totally incapable of taking a step without first consulting a product assembled by a preteen girl in China. A product which provides instant information concerning topics he Needs to Know About Right Now- the current temperature in cities 3000 miles apart, for example. Or how many billion more people he has to visit tonight.

(Quick aside: I've had more than enough of the insufferably arrogant "all humans are materialistic Christians on December 25" theme. No, Santa does NOT have 3.7 billion people to visit tonight- he can skip the Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Calvinists, etc. , not to mention all the Christians who believe that Christmas has nothing to do with maxing out one's freaking Visa card on presents and ostentatious light displays. Ok, now back to my original rant....)

I'm used to being Santa Claus portrayed as a silly, more than a little creepy stalker this time of year (that "Santa Claus as Truck Salesman") ad is REALLY weird- would you really buy a vehicle from a guy who looked like that?) But until this year, he always seemed to be the boss of each situation. Now he's begging for information every five seconds and being admonished by a disembodied voice to "take it easy on the cookies" (Santa has to "take it easy on the cookies" on the one night they are provided, free of charge, in unlimited quantities?) Suddenly it's not magic that gets Santa to every house on the planet (again, groan...) but a downloadable App.

Never mind how silly this all makes everyone else who uses this device (not that they didn't look plenty silly already.) Does the average human need to know any of this information? Isn't it already available with a quick online search or (gasp) a call to an actual human being? (What am I thinking? Phones aren't used to talk to people any more- just to "stay connected.")

Anyway, at least this ad ends before Santa asks his phone for directions back to his sleigh. That's probably coming next year, because by then Santa- along with the rest of us pampered idiots- will have become so damned helpless we'll be getting lost in our living rooms without the assistance of turn by turn directions. Bah Humbug.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

There's Hope for Me in 2012!!!

Check out the guy who makes his appearance four seconds in, and at the very end of this ad for Bank of America. Greasy hair. Beard. Tight buttoned-down sweater, with a pink shirt sticking out the bottom. In other words, a guy who looks like he's totally incapable of washing or dressing himself. Not to mention a total femme.

He's got a baby in his cart. So unless this is a Baby Store and he's making a purchase, it looks like this guy has found someone to have sex with. Greasy hair. Beard. Tight, buttoned-down sweater. Pink untucked shirt. This guy can find a sexual partner serious enough to be willing to produce a child by him.

Now, maybe this is more about the power of desperation. Or alcohol. But I'll put those ideas aside for now, I don't need my balloon popped with New Year's Eve only a few days away. As a better-than-average looking guy who knows how to shower, shave and dress, this commercial gives me a lot of optimism about the future.

And hey, I'm better with money, too. I don't "save" my using a Bank of America credit card. I save by using cash and avoiding debt. Pretty hot, eh ladies?

Or maybe greasy hair, beards, tight sweaters, untucked pink shirts and no money management skills are in now? I think I'm probably out of luck then. I mean, I might be willing to convert for the right girl- but this is asking a bit too much. I have my pride!

I guess he couldn't afford to rent the Jumbotron?

Here's another episode in the Adventures of The Guys Who Live To Make Total Jackasses of Themselves. It's a very long-running series (this particular ad is several years old) and has included such classic, unforgettable moments as:

--The time The Guy gave his girlfriend a ring to interrupt her singing the praises of her Egg McMuffin, or

--the time The Guy tried to work up the courage to propose, but could not distract his Intended from her Progresso soup with the Big Chunks of Potato, or

--the time The Guy held up the football game because both teams had to stop and admire the rock he was handing to his Secretly Mortified Future Wife in front of 100,000 people, or

--the time The Guy drove his girlfriend all over town hoping she would finally get her head out of her ass long enough to notice the airplane with the streaming "will you marry this pathetic, cowardly, fat excuse for a man?" banner.

In this particular installment, The Guy proves himself a bit too classy to propose at a burger joint, or maybe too poor to hire the scoreboard or an airplane (though it looks like they may be in Europe here, can't really tell for sure.) At any rate, he's not happy enough with the fact that the woman he's with can tolerate being with him. Or, he's decided that being with him is not in itself quite mortifying enough. So he stands in the middle of the square and screams "I LOVE THIS WOMAN!" at the top of his lungs (because everyone really cares. And needs to know. Odd- when I was dating the woman I would eventually marry, just letting HER know seemed good enough.) Long-suffering girlfriend, who quite some time ago learned to mask her distress at her boyfriend's boorish behavior behind a "No Really he's Adorable and Hey I'm Pushing Thirty" smile, responds by repeating the mantra which has been engraved into her brain since the day she realized that It's probably not going to get any better than this guy- "I love this man. I love this man. I love this man." Yes, you keep telling yourself that, honey. Quietly, so no one else can hear-and wonder "why?"

(And I just can't shrug off the suspicion that yelling "I LOVE THIS WOMAN" very loudly was a ploy to distract this girl from noticing that the rock is somewhat smaller than she might have hoped, and that yelling loudly didn't cost this guy a dime.)

My dream is to be at a major sporting event when The Guy proposes to someone on the scoreboard-- and gets rejected. Because there has to be a woman out there, somewhere, who does not appreciate being put on the spot by awkward, passive-aggressive, classless little boys like this.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wait- this is new? So it's just going to get WORSE now?

Let me see if I can get this straight- self-absorbed moron of Uncertain Ethnicity has cranked up his music to such an insane decibel level that it is flattening the world around him. Totally detached, said moron listlessly jaywalks through the set of Inception as his eardrums are assaulted by an endless wave of drivel until he gets a call on the same device he's used to download this....umm..."music."

He answers the phone, and whatever the person on the other end said, his reply is "yo, I'm on my way." Well, I'm sure that's a relief to the caller. Because I can't imagine the party getting started before this guy shows up.

Here's what I don't get- this is somehow new technology? How can that be? I've seen (and HEARD- ear buds are next to worthless when it comes to keeping your music to yourself) this guy everywhere for the past two decades. He's always in the same subway car, treating me and everyone else within thirty feet to free "entertainment" in the form of leaked garbage. He's next to me at the gym, mysteriously assuming that I want to listen along with him instead of paying attention to what is on my own headphones. More and more often, he's in the fricking library- because what is a more appropriate place to listen to music at a high volume than a library?

Or am I missing the point of this ad- is the message here that the earbuds are so effective, only the wearer can hear the music? If so, I don't think this latest offering is going to be very popular- from what I've seen, people who own cell phones, MP3 players, etc. see being boorish and rude as a fringe benefit that comes with ownership of these things. What, I'm not advertising that I own a little toy which lets me download music and force anything resembling thoughts out of my head, and yours too? Pass!

Monday, December 19, 2011

"And..... everyone you've ever met will be glad to hear this happened to you."

It's almost horrifying to realize that this commercial chronicles the life of exactly ONE disgustingly entitled dickwad. It would be bad enough if we saw four separate episodes in the life of four separate people- to believe that all of this crude nastiness exists within a single semi-human makes me think that we've found the subject of the next installment of the Omen series.

It starts with his formative years, when Damien introduced himself to the world with his flat refusal to accept an ice cream cone until it's been decked out in colorful sprinkles (he can't ask for the sprinkles, of course- that would be...what is the word I'm trying to think of? Oh yea- POLITE. He has to treat the poor guy behind the counter like a worker drone who should be eternally grateful for the opportunity to serve. Anyway, this kid has learned a very valuable lesson- being a demanding, rude jackass pays off. It's a lesson he will, unfortunately for us, never forget.

Later, Mr. Loathsome Choad has grown into a skinny, scruffy (but what guy on tv isn't scruffy these days- jesus, when is the To Hell With Shaving look going to go out of style already?) but still Very Much Determined To Demand Everything jerk, not satisfied with being offered a nice job until the interviewer grants him stock options, too. Because this guy looks like someone you'd want to encounter at the water cooler every day. Of course.

And now it gets really, really bad- Disgusting Proof that Fecal Matter Can Be Trained To Walk Upright is complimented on a pair of jeans he's trying on, but the compliment is only good enough if the saleswoman offers sex in exchange for the chance to earn the commission. For the next three seconds or so, the commercial becomes an ad for Enzyte or K-Y Jelly (it's certainly nothing you want to have to explain to your kids who were just trying to spend a few hours of quality time watching football with you.) What, this guy is James Bond now? Are we supposed to find him attractive? Or is it just more of the Hot Women on TV are Easy theme?

At the conclusion of this brain-numbing, steaming cow pie of an advertisement, Our Hero takes a swig of Coke Zero and gives us an indication that THIS is the best thing that's happened to him all day. His friends at the table seem mystified at his reaction. I'm mystified that Mr. Smarm has friends. And that anyone could possibly get this excited over Coke Zero, which is just like Diet Coke if Diet Coke came in a black can and included a nasty aftertaste.

Anyway, we are left wishing that a gas leak in the restaurant kitchen would suddenly level this place and kill everyone in it. Sure, we only really hate that one guy, but if he ends up with his face burned off and with shards of that can jammed halfway down his throat, I'd call them acceptable losses.

(I'd like to be the paramedic on the scene who tells the guy "sorry, you're going to die now." When he responds with the inevitable "And...?" I would respond "and you aren't doing it fast enough" or "and you will not be missed.")

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Hoping it's not just a kiss that begins with Kay

"I--know--this--may--seem--strange---coming--from--a--guy--who--has--known---you--for--such--a--short--period---of--time--that---he--hasn't---learned---to--effectively--communicate---with---you. I---mean,---expensive---jewelery--is--generally---the---kind---of---gift---reserved---for--serious---couples--who---have---developed---a--relationship...but....

"The--fact---is,---I---just---think---you---are---really---hot...ok? I've---been---trying---to--get--into---your---pants--ever---since---our---first---date, and---frankly---don't---really---care---for---this---'communication'---bullshit. I---mean, it's---not--like---I---really---have---anything--to---say---to--you--other---than--that--I'd---really---like---to--land---you---in---the---sack."

"So---let's---just---cut---to---the--chase, ok? From--what---I've--seen---in---commercials, all---girls--really---want---before---they---put---out---is---a--shiny--trinket. So--here---you---go---can---you---just---say---thank---you---and---strip---already, 'cause---God---knows---I've---put---in---the--hours, don't---you---think?"

(BTW, whose house are these people sitting in? Whose tree is that, and who is getting all those presents? The vibe I get from these people is that they are fairly recent acquaintances-- again, the guy hasn't learned how to communicate with the girl with any level of competence yet--not a married couple with their own home. What the hell IS going on here?)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Calling the ASPCA!

So the old guy in the tasteless sweater who lives in a McMansion was experiencing a little problem- his electric bills were "breaking the bank." His solution- to buy some guinea pigs and teach them to slave away rowing to generate power which then allows him to "surf the web all day long."

Ugh, where to start? As long as this noxious prick was willing to torture animals into generating power, wouldn't it have made a lot more sense to just use an f---ng hamster wheel? Those exist in real life, you know. And it's not hard to see how they could be used to produce actual electricity. Even without teaching the little critters how to row a boat, let alone learn the word "row" (God this is stupid.) Heck, I bet a few days of tiny electronic shocks or perhaps food deprivation could pull it off. What this guy did to teach his guinea pigs to perform a complicated task- well, I don't really want to know.

And why did this disgusting jerkwad with the deadpan expression go through all of this for? Why, to allow him to sit his fat ass down in front of his computer and stare at a screen all. Day. Long. Well, that's nice. I hope those guinea pigs are eventually intelligent enough to realize that while they endured horrible pain to learn to manipulate tiny oars, and continue to experience endless suffering at the hands of their lord and master, at least it's all in a good cause. So this guy can surf the web. All. Day. Long.

Naturally, the unattended YouTube Children think that this commercial is so very funny and Epic- one proudly tells us that he loves it so much that once when it came on he cut himself trying to peel an orange, or something (to tell you the truth, I'm not quite sure what the point this Pudding for Brains was trying to make.) And of course, this is not actually an ad promoting the abuse of animals (please DON'T hook up your hamster's wheel to generate electricity. PLEASE.) It's just another commercial that reminds us how very little GEICO thinks of us. Like the YouTube comments are there to remind us that we deserve the contempt.

Meanwhile- this guy spent six months manipulating innocent creatures into generating energy- so he could surf the web. I hate to see how he reacts to a rise in the price of bread- maybe adopt some dogs and then train them to operate a grain mill? Hey, I hear cats can be taught to soak up heat on the roof all day- and at night, you can stuff them into the drywall for insulation. And we already know that monkeys can be trained to do pretty much anything. Thanks for letting us know the possibilities, GEICO.

When is Al Gore going to get out of the way and let Exxon extract my oil?

First- is there some law which says that whenever an oil company produces an advertisement designed to convince us that oil is the fuel of the future and that this is a good thing, said advertisement must include smiling, hopeful-looking children and suburban homes decked out in American flags?

Second, can we agree that the agencies hired to produce commercials for these companies are absolute geniuses when it comes to inventing user-friendly catchphrases to describe the environment-murdering resource they are pimping to us? I mean, "Oil Sand?" "Clean Coal?" It all sounds so nice, doesn't it? British Petroleum provided a nice gift of Oil Sand to the Gulf Coast of Mexico a while back, remember that? (Maybe you don't, because the Liberal, Corporation-hating Media called it a "Spill.") Reminds me of when the power plant on The Simpsons experienced a meltdown, and Mr. Burns referred to it as "an unrequested fission surplus."

Finally- when are these companies going to stop using the language of Socialism to promote companies which represent the very worst in Capitalism? The implied message in all these ads is that "we" have enough oil, natural gas, whatever "right here at home," "right under our feet," and all "we" have to do is go get it. If allowed to do so, the companies that drill, frack and squeeze the crap out of "our" country will "provide" the energy "we" are currently buying from Those People Who Hate Us For Our Freedoms in the Middle East. And in doing so, they'll create a hundred thousand jobs "right here at home," assuming that "home" means "Canada." Of course, this is only true if we Nationalize these natural resources- something I'm willing to bet Chevron, British Petroleum, Exxon etc. are really not all that interested in. In the real world, every drop of "our" oil would, of course, go right on to the world market, sold side by side with Canadian Oil and Russian Oil and Venezuelan Oil and Saudi Oil. If the people in the houses with the smiling kids and the pretty flags get any of it, it will be because they outbid everyone else.

Not that "we" here in the land of smiling kids and pretty flags won't get something a little extra for our willingness to allow these companies to tear the hell out of our backyards. We can look forward to the delightfully spontaneous creation of oozing black rivers and lakes when there's an Unrequested Fuel Surplus from time to time, and more of that wonderful Oil Sand. Not to mention the hilarious, Only in America flammable water available to more and more kitchen sinks, at no extra charge. And we'll be putting a few Canadians to work- just par for the course for the Most Generous People On The Planet.

And never forget the pride that comes with ownership. That's OUR fuel allowing the world to hold off the inevitable switch to renewable resources for a few more decades. It's a feeling you just can't get from a solar panel. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to turn up the thermostat and head off to Lowe's for another Made in China American flag to display from my porch.

Friday, December 16, 2011

People badly in need of a visit from three ghosts

So you're using something called "Trade Architect" by Scottrade to consolidate your portfolio, manage your investment tools, shift your electronic money around in a thousand different ways, and it's such a great experience, you feel the need to tell me that you're "loving it?"

Here's what I'm doing with my money- I'm spending it. Mostly on lunches for kids who lack their own pocket money. Chocolates for same. A bagel party two or three times a year. A week of summer vacation with my niece, including Orioles and Nationals games and two days at Hersheypark. Time permitting, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. This year, what looks like several cool museums in Mystic, Connecticut.

I guess maybe I'll die without much money in my "portfolio" (whatever the hell that is,) but before that happens I won't spend a minute staring at graphs on a screen trying to figure out which stocks or mutual funds or derivatives I should be putting my little pile on before the market spins the roulette wheel and informs me that Sorry, I had it on Black and it came up Red. I won't let Scottrade or "Chuck" Schwab or those f--ing eTrade babies convince me that there's some social good in obsessing over the Dow Jones Industrial Average or the Asian Markets (again, whatever the hell they are.)

My favorite two lines from the greatest movie ever made- Charles Foster Kane's business manager explains to a reporter that "there's no trick to making a lot of money....if all you want, is to make a lot of money" and the admonition Kane later receives from the soulless, Ebenezer Scrooge-type miser who ultimately puts him on a budget- "you never made an just USED BUY things." I don't care about making money (Howard Jones told me years ago that the Future has a delightful tendency to take care of itself, somehow) and while I don't like debt, I also don't see why I should work so hard for the stuff if I'm not going to spend it making other people happy (which also makes me happy, but please don't tell anyone I said that. I don't want them to figure out how selfish my generosity is.)

Oh, by the way, Obsessive Money Trackers: When your years of chasing the almighty dollar are done, you are going to be Dead (just ask Steve Jobs, who made himself a billionaire on the backs of little Chinese girls and fought to prevent his workers from organizing themselves because he just couldn't bear the thought of parting with any more of his precious mountain of money.) Just as dead as any person who actually enjoyed his money by sharing it during his lifetime. Maybe your coffin will be a little bigger, but who is going to be able to tell once the dirt has been shoveled on top? Your Lexus will be in the hands of an unappreciative, equally status-obsessed relative, and the wealth you managed to accumulate in your mad pursuit of it will be the property of someone else, who will enjoy it without you. And if you are really doing this so that your slab of marble will be slightly larger than mine- don't bother, I'm going to be cremated. Without a penny in the bank, if I manage things just right.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Are there no garage sales? Are there no charities?

Here's an original advertising concept: Owning a really tiny car "allows" you to "escape your stuff." Because the tiny car is SO tiny you can't take the contents of your house with you when you go for a drive. The Smart Car is so --umm, "smart," it is designed to force you to take your leave of everything that you own which is larger than your wallet and cell phone when you putter around in it. Not shown: it's also so smart that it's "efficient" design does not allow you to bring home any more "stuff," either. Call it forced simplifying.

Yes, the Smart Car allows you to escape your stuff. Like losing your job frees you from the headache of managing money and maneuvering rush hour traffic, or having an empty refrigerator provides the liberating experience of not having to decide what to eat for dinner. Seriously, this message really pushes the Stupid envelope- and in today's advertising world, that is saying a LOT.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"Thanks for finally noticing! Now I can exhale!"

There are several of these Cheerios Multigrain commercials featuring women who go out of their way to make it obvious that they've managed to lose weight- they hang out in laundromats until someone asks them why they are drying their clothes for the fourth time, so they can "casually" mention that they need to shrink them because "they don't fit anymore, I've lost weight." They spend hours in front of the clothes donation bin, patiently waiting for a neighbor to notice their slimmed-down butts (seriously, this one is more than a little creepy- the friend actually stares at this woman's backside and approvingly- and loudly- takes note of the improvement.)

Ok,so maybe the woman in this ad hasn't been waiting hours for just the right moment to bend down in her new, tight slacks in front of just the right person to achieve just the right response. Maybe she's just been bringing her old, No Longer Wearable Because She's No Longer a Fatass discardables to the bin one item at a time, and has finally drawn a stare from her neighbor. Either way, the "Oh yes I HAVE lost lots of weight, thanks for noticing, now let me go on and on and on about how I accomplished this great achievement" response should convince the friend to never,ever comment on The Biggest Loser's weight loss ever, ever again.

And I just love the smug, I'm So Very Awesome look on this woman's face as she eats what is probably her 19th straight meal of Multigrain Cheerios. Hey, lady? Before you get too carried away with your own sense of self-satisfaction, I'd like to remind you that that stuff is still made up mostly of milled flour and sugar. You could do a LOT better- I like mixing Great Grains, Grape Nuts and granola with yogurt, myself-far more whole grains than your Cheerios, much more variety, and a LOT more filling (I like Cheerios, but anyone who tells you that they are not very hungry two hours after eating a bowl of it is lying.)

But back to my main point- if you have to solicit compliments like this, maybe you don't look as good as you think you do. And "I'm shrinking my clothes....I'm donating my clothes...?" Please, get the hell over yourself. Better yet, pack those clothes away in the closet, because if you think that a diet consisting of Multigrain Cheerios is something you are going to be able to stick to for the rest of your life, you are only kidding yourself. And don't think your friends won't remember when you are back to hauling yourself around in sweatpants what a big fricking deal you made out of dropping a few pounds, once upon a time.

Monday, December 12, 2011

For the person in your life who already has everything: More.

Is there room for any doubt that Lexus will not stop subjecting us to these horrible commercials until everyone on the planet absolutely despises the company, the jingle, and every actor who has ever appeared in any of them?

This family comes close to some level of Wholesomeness, because for a few moments they are actually doing something together. Of course, when you think about it for a moment, you realize that they must have been doing something together for some time, because they've managed to prevent mom from noticing the overpriced luxury car with the giant red bow being parked ostentatiously in the driveway. Maybe they were using the SodaStream or whipping up Lattes? Maybe they were gazing at their individual Apple laptops and updating their Facebook pages? Whatever it was, I'm sure it was fun, Upscale, and very, very White.

Anyway, this whole mess comes to a climax when mom realizes that someone has reprogrammed "Mom's Song" (Mom doesn't have a name; she left that with her soul, at the altar) to match the Lexus Jingle. It takes a few moments to sink into Mom's brain, but the giant, delighted grins on Dad and her 2.5 children eventually give it away. And then it's time to leave the cavernous living room with the freaking wall-sized windows looking out into the perfect fucking snow-encrusted lawn (well, why not, everything about this family is perfect, naturally the very trees in the lawn would be delicately shroud in newly-fallen snow. To expect otherwise would be to imply that this family's fecal matter emits odors. Not a chance.)

The final scene is the exact same god damned final scene we see in every. Single. One. Of these Ads. Spouse who lives in a suburban palace and is obviously used to getting every freaking thing her heart has ever desired finds a Lexus in the driveway. What strains credulity is the fact that the receiver of this gift always acts so damned surprised- why? I mean, last year it was two weeks in Paris. The year before that, it was the Navigator she said she wanted. The year before that, it was the indoor swimming pool. And let's not even start on those dirt bikes and ponies the kids have been getting every December since they were roughly six. The only surprise here is what took so damned long for the giver to get the freaking hint- I mean, these ads have been around for a long time now, and didn't you notice the look of disappointment when she opened that box of chocolate diamonds while taking the Cessna to Greece last summer?

Meanwhile, the only look we have on our faces is that of slow-burning rage and hate for anyone who was within one square mile of the lot when these commercials were created. I hope this doesn't sound too harsh for the Holiday Season, but you should all burn in hell. Slowly. While the Lexus Jingle plays in an endless loop in the background.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

So you're still a little girl. Your price has just gone up.

This time of year, jewelery commercials almost manage to crowd out cell phone ads, and they certainly give them a run for their money when it comes to utter, pointless loathsomeness. And that is really saying something.

In this particular commercial for something called "chocolate diamonds" (I don't know. I don't want to know) we see a little girl staring at a plate of chocolates in a shop. Presumably a parent is nearby and this little girl is letting that parent know that she just adores chocolates and would be ever so happy if said parent would purchase little girl some of those yummy chocolates. Ok, lots of kids love chocolate. Nothing offensive here.

But then we see the same girl grown up, and she's still audibly cooing over chocolate- except now it's chocolate DIAMONDS. Let's try to figure this out, shall we? When she was a kid, she loved chocolate- but wait, maybe it was just the appearance of chocolate that she liked so much. Because chocolate diamonds are not edible (they aren't, right? I mean, these aren't diamonds actually dipped in chocolate, are they?) So she still loves chocolates- but now they have to be really expensive chunks of rock. And because deep down she's still a little girl, she's still going to find some adult to make aware of her stupid obsession, 'cause maybe he'll get the hint and buy her the pretty little things she saw in the display case, just like daddy did when she was REALLY a little girl.

Sure enough, this nasty, pain-inducing little nub of an ad ends with Allegedly Grown Up Girl getting the "chocolate diamonds" (seriously, what?) and giving Daddy/Husband an appreciative smile and hug (which really can't mean anything more than "awww, you were paying attention when I was drooling all over these things in the store, I'm glad I brought you with me!" although I'm sure the guy hopes it also means "ok, I'll keep having sex with you- for a few more months, anyway. Valentine's Day is February 14th by the way, and this doesn't count.")

What it all boils down to is what all of these awful jewelry commercials boil down to- women love shiny things, and in a way, men love them too- because women are really obvious about loving shiny things and also really willing to let men know exactly which shiny things they love the most, they make gift-giving a no-brainer. "What do I know about my wife? Well, she likes pretty rocks. So if I get her a pretty rock, I'm safe." Everyone's a winner. Except the television viewers, but when have we ever counted?

Divide and Conquer, the Verizon Way

A pair of upscale breeders cruise through their upscale neighborhood, quietly pretending to have concern for one of their formerly upscale neighbors, who are about to fall from the top branches into the Let's Pretend It Isn't There land of How the Other Half Lives.

Some of their "friends," you see, are on the verge of losing their house. "So many bills" mutters Hubby to Obviously Pregnant But Keeps Touching Stomach and Don't Worry There Will Be a Reference To Future Child Just To Make Sure You Get It Later. Mommy First/ Wife Later replies something about how Verizon is now going to require that she pay a little bit toward her insurance. Seems like an innocent, "hey I want to be part of this conversation too" thing to say, except...

Fox News Viewer and Sean Hannity Worshiper Hubby instantly jumps down her throat with a line that I think I've seen misspelled on a sign at every Tea Party event ever held. It boils down to "shut up, it's still a good deal, and hey we are a million times better off than our friends" and strongly implies that the reason why those friends are about to be homeless is because one of them objected to contributing to their own insurance. In other words, were whiny, demanding, entitled losers who simply failed to appreciate their jobs and their Godlike employers- you know, the Most Productive Amongst Us.

Hubby's "shut your mouth you never know who may be listening" admonition does it's job- Mommy/Wife not only regrets her half-uttered criticism of All Good And All Giving Verizon, she quickly puts on a smile and folds herself back into focusing on Baby To Be and Former Baby in the Back of the Minivan Made Possible By Verizon. It's strongly implied that the mildly anti-Corporate afterthought throwaway line has been tossed down the Memory Hole, never to be retrieved and certainly never to be spoken of again.

One of the YouTube commentators gets it exactly right here- this commercial is all about dividing Verizon's worker drones into opposing tribes. Yes, Verizon is demanding that it's employees (who, by the way, might want to notice that unemployment rate and remember how much they like living in a house and how much it costs to feed kids these days before they start to bitch) pay "a little" into their insurance funds, which had formerly (probably due to some silly "contract agreement") been paid in full by Verizon. Maybe some employees have a problem with this. Verizon would just like to remind them that hey, jobs are hard to come by these days, and maybe they'd rather have no job at all and be out on the street? Would that be better? Hey, it's up to them. But complaining about it- well, hey, it would be a real shame if the company shut down because it wasn't profitable enough after paying out for all that insurance. If that happens, you know who to blame (wink, nudge, point at noisy, greedy, selfish, lazy neighbor.) Go ahead and kill that golden goose- but don't blame the goose when you don't find any eggs in there when you are done.

You can almost HEAR the whip cracking, can't you?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Because moving, even a little, really sucks

Oh yays, now I can just bleat at my television instead of wearing out my fingers clicking my Medieval remote control! This is how people must have felt when the wheel was invented. Or maybe the light bulb.

Seriously, though. I guess that if I had grandchildren (and no, I am not old enough to have grandchildren) I could amaze them with stories of how grampa used to have to get off the damned couch and turn this big, heavy thing called a "dial" which protruded from the non-HD, non-70-inch, non-color television which looked more like a big ugly box than a big ugly window. Back when "plasma" was what people had in their blood, and had absolutely NOTHING to do with tvs.

Continuing my story, I'd tell them about the invention of "remotes" which weren't very remote- they had cords attached to them. Then the remotes lost the cords, but we still had to wait for something good to come on the tv, and if we missed a show, we were out of luck (oh, and if nothing good WAS on, we'd find something else to do. And no, that didn't include surfing the net, because surfing was something you did on the ocean, not a net. It might be hard, but I'd try my best to explain how there was Life Without Television, the Internet OR Cell Phones back then.)

Then I'd tell them about how grampa managed something called a "video store" back when he was in Graduate School, and how people would actually have to leave their houses to browse our library of "tapes." At the risk of aging myself, I might tell them the story of how grampa sold 300 copies of "E.T." six months before it was even released to the general public, $24.95 each, and how people would have to "rewind" their movies when they got done watching them. But maybe not- I don't want to scare my own grandkids, after all.

If I still had their attention- and they hadn't already abandoned me to talk to the X-box- I might even expand on that Life Without Television thing- about how the people of my generation actually spent a lot of our time outside, playing tag and hide and seek and a thousand other games we invented with our own brains without asking a single question of an electronic device, and without Googling or using a single App. Not even once. Maybe they'll think we were geniuses. More likely, they'll just think Grampa and his friends were really lame. And that their lives were really, really sad.

I think I'll skip the part about how, after turning the dial controlling the antennae, we'd run outside to watch it rotate so it was aimed toward Plattsburgh, New York, so maybe we could get a picture. I don't think they could handle that. After all, they are just kids, and they are living in a world which allows them to just sit on their butts and tell the X-box what they want to see or do. And what a wonderful world it is.

This guy should correspond with his brain more often

This commercial features a guy who takes the time to write little mental notes to each side of his brain, and is careful to include the term "dear" when he does it. It seems he's gone and used "our" hard-earned money to purchase as KIA, and now justifiably feels the need to explain why he's done such a thing. To both sides of his brain. Individually.

He concludes by suggesting that upon the purchase of this overpriced piece of junk, his brain threw a hissy-fit and assaulted him with condemnations. "Now shut up, and let me drive!" he demands. Yikes. Hey, buddy- we all have those little voices in our heads every once in a while. They usually show up when we are about to do something really stupid- like spend luxury car money on a KIA. Those voices come from our Inner Common Sense. Sometimes we listen to them, sometimes we don't. But the argument we have with them comes before the moment of decision. Once we've made our choice, they tend to go away.

At any rate, I hope this guy isn't really having this conversation with his brain while he's driving. I hope that the protests coming from inside his skull aren't really so loud that he feels compelled to repeat the talking points the slick salesman at the KIA dealership read to him, and then tell his brain to "shut up." And I especially hope that he really does want his brain to stop distracting him so that he can drive, and not so that he can get back to texting, adjusting the seat temperature, updating the GPS and doing all those other things that commercials for expensive cars urge us to do instead of drive.

"Shut up and let me drive." Hey, no one's stopping you, pal. Except, apparently, your brain. Which you argue with a lot. Weird.

Friday, December 9, 2011

That does it; I'm converting!!

I've never heard of this "Christy Lane" person. I'm not sure if she's really a professional singer, or a regular on the Old Time Gospel Hour, or the minister of the most popular megachurch this side of Lynchburg. What I do know is that she scares the hell out of me.

Christy Lane sings Christmas Songs. And not just ANY Christmas songs; Christy Lane sings only the most smarmy, treacle-laden, dripping with gush Christmas songs, suitable for any December at Wal Mart, but not a welcome addition to any home I'VE ever been to.

Christy Lane's voice has "conquered the world." Yikes, where have I been? Again, I've never even HEARD of this woman. And besides, I thought that the world had ALREADY been conquered, years ago, by Jim Neighbors. Or was that Zamfir, Master of the Pan Flute? Is there a brutal War of Allegedly Inoffensive Yet Horribly Grating Music going on somewhere I don't know about? A war I am reminded of only around the final month of every year? A war fought exclusively by Extremely White People whose uniform is big fuzzy red and green sweaters? A war in which all down time is to be spent cuddling golden-haired cherubs* and decking every spare inch of the house with tinsel and blinking lights while congratulating ourselves on our painfully vanilla Christian "beliefs?"

Let me know how it goes, Christy et al. Whatever world you and the rest of your weirdo ilk is fighting over is one I want no part of. I'm not sure how all this glitz translates into hating gays, reproductive rights and Barack Obama, and to tell you the truth, I don't really care all that much. I'm too busy looking for the exit. Buddhism, anyone?

*If you look very carefully, you can see that little girl blinking out "CALL THE POLICE" in code.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What's really sick is, this has probably already happened in real life

These people are cooing and giggling over a live video of a baby which appears on a laptop screen. They are passing around that laptop as if it's a real baby. This is supposed to be cute and funny on some level. Instead it leaves us wanting all of them to put that damned thing down and just look at the screen as a group- so we can slap them upside the head, hard, without damaging the computer.

The Designated Flummoxed Male in this ad is just standing there with a clueless, confused look on his face- and for a moment, we can engage in the fantasy that he's the only person with two brain cells to rub together here, and has no interest in playing this stupid Pass the Laptop Game. For a moment, we can pretend that look on his face means "what the hell are you idiots doing?" or "Oh my God I am related to you scary morons?" Ah, but only for a moment- then we realize that he's just Being A Guy, and part of Being A Guy means Being Afraid Of Holding A Baby. Because why would a guy want to hold a baby, or have any idea how to? What do guys have to do with the creation of babies, right?

Anyway, this stupid, mercifully short little nub of an ad just makes me angry at Windows, because it joins so many other commercials in suggesting that technology doesn't really enhance our lives; it just makes us act like really, really pathetic morons. Except for the Guy- it can't change him, because he is a pathetic moron already. Because he is a Guy. See, technology doesn't have the power to change EVERYTHING.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Give the Gift of Nothing (If you're lucky!)

I'm quite thankful that I've never known anyone who would appreciate getting lottery tickets as a Christmas present. It seems to me that the only difference between giving a regular lottery player a handful of scratch tickets as a holiday present and giving a raging alcoholic a case of Heineken is that the alcoholic might at least have some friends over to share the gift. This is just so wrong, on so many levels.

Besides, as Norm MacDonald explained in an old stand-up bit, no one who gives lottery tickets as gifts could possibly want the recipient to actually WIN anything. Just think about it for a minute- you spend ten bucks on scratch-offs because you can't think of anything else to give your mail carrier. Next thing you know, your mail carrier is standing in a tv studio holding a novelty check for $45 million- and is now your FORMER mail carrier, heading off to Bermuda for a few weeks in the sun to consider how he's going to spend the rest of the dough you unwittingly handed him. What a nightmare!

So the people who give these things are either feeding a sad addiction, or playing a cruel, cynical game of Let's Feed False Hopes, And I'm Really, Really Hoping they ARE False. The best the giver can hope for is that the recipient has a few moments of "fun" scratching numbers before the flimsy pieces of cardboard end up at the bottom of a trash can. Happy Holidays to you too, Pennsylvania Lottery.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

I wish he would stick to racing down hills on a Norelco razor

If it's December, it's time to portray Santa Claus as a creepy stalker with a taste for high-end trinkets and a really bad case of Tourette's.

How else can you explain Saint Nick's yearly approval of the ugly pieces of rock guys choose to waste their money on in desperate attempts to be semi-worthy of the women they've already talked into marrying them?

And why does Santa always act so damned deranged in these ads? He's not being jolly- he's just being irritating. And I'm sorry, I'm just not capable of the suspension of disbelief required for commercials like this- if a fat old man in a flashy red suit suddenly appears in my living room, I'm not having a casual conversation with him. I'm going for the gun. Especially if I've got kids. Instead, we always see this ho-hum "oh hi, Santa- kind of thought you were just a myth my parents told me when I was young- so, you're real, huh? Live and learn, I guess." Not even a "oh man, I KNEW I shouldn't have guzzled that egg nog I found in the back of the fridge from last year- how long is this vision gonna last, and when does the vomiting take over?"

In the long version of this commercial, the guy sits under the tree with his wife on Christmas morning (in his PAJAMAS, because that's what grown men wear when they are alone with their wives, on some planet) and hands her the string of pebbles that is supposed to symbolize his love for her, but actually only serves as a reminder of his pathetic lack of imagination or interest in discovering what the Love of His Life really wanted for a gift. He tells her that "Santa knew you'd like it," she gives him a totally appropriate odd look, and instead of adding "Um, I mean the guy dressed as Santa at the jewelry store" like a sane person, he attempts to keep the joke going with a "no, really."

Because Wifey is too exhausted and past her prime to consider putting herself on the market again, and after all it IS a pretty nice looking trinket, she just shuts this crap up by kissing him. Pretty good move, actually, considering the lack of alternatives. This is all supposed to be charming and sweet- again, on some planet. Just not the one I live on.

What a pity Thomas Nast or Coca Cola couldn't have maintained the copyright on the Santa Claus character. Would have saved us a lot of garbage like this ad. Sure, there would still be plenty of commercials featuring guys blowing enough money to feed a hundred homeless people down at the shelter on a string of hardened dirt, but at least they wouldn't be able to enlist Santa in the cause.

And don't even get me started on Al Sharpton....

I don't know about you, but as far as I'm concerned, there's nothing quite so satisfying as being lectured and talked down to by multimillionaire tv yakkers who make a living pretending to be "Progressives."

1. Chris Matthews: Recovering cheerleader for the Iraq War Chris Matthews. "Bush looks awesome on that flight suit" Chris Matthews. Romney's "shoulders you could land a jet on" Chris Matthews. "Tingle down my leg" Chris Matthews. The Chris Matthews who never, EVER lets anyone he is interviewing finish answering a question or expressing a thought, because can't disguise the fact that he really isn't interested in what anyone else thinks or is saying, ever. The Chris Matthews who makes bucket loads of money to blather about how much "fun" it would be to have a "brokered convention" and wax poetic about "tough Irish kids and tough Italian kids playing stick ball on the streets of Brooklyn" (don't ask.) The Chris Matthews who mysteriously remembers stuff that happened before he was born, and who provides deep insight into events which occurred when he was a child with the authority of a guy who was in the room. The guy we wish had really run for the Senate in 2010, because no one in this country needs an ego smackdown more. That Chris Matthews.

2. Ed Schultz. He of the ridiculously fake, forced laugh who, when not pontificating on how great it is to be "just one of the folk," will occasionally lapse into fond memories of his $3900 first class flight to a private airfield in Minnesota "to do a little fishin'." The guy who used to suck up to "Progressive" Senator Kent Conrad one minute, and bash Progressive Senator Al Franken the next. The guy who acts like a drunken Huey Long wannabee whenever he does his show in front of a live audience. The guy who once strongly considered a run for Congress from North Dakota- as a Conservative Republican. That Ed Schultz.

3. Rachel Maddow- the brightest bulb of the lot, and probably the closest to being a sincere Progressive, but still a pedantic, ponderous, plodding, squeaky, finger-wagging schoolmarm who seems eternally convinced that her audience consists of nine year old kids who Won't Ever Quite Get It unless she dazzles them with cutesy props and spells out the subject very. Very. Slowly. The Rachel Maddow who eventually will admit that the "Moment of Geek" segment of her show might as well be called "See, Rachel Maddow's store of knowledge is vastly larger than yours and goes way beyond politics!," just as on her old radio show she finally admitted that the segment entitled "Ask Dr Maddow" could have been retitled "Ask Dr Maddow to look up something on Wikipedia for you." That Rachel Maddow.

Hey, guys? Tell you what- when you stop pretending that the Occupy Wall Street movement is somehow aimed entirely at the Republican party and is ideologically in sync with the Democrats, when you stop trying to convince me that the President and the Democratic Party represents the future of Progressivism and aren't every bit the Corporatists that the Republicans are, and when you stop cashing those checks written out to you by "Progressive" General Electric, I might start taking you a bit more seriously.

Until then, save the overbearing ego-stroking ads for "Morning Joe," ok?*

*The AM offering from Progressive MSNBC, which will probably get it's own post here, eventually.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

There are no winners here

It would take way too long- time I simply don't have- to go through this truly awful, mind-numbing pile of steaming dreck line by wretched line. It would be almost as painful to describe the main characters- scruffy, hopelessly addicted, desperately trying to keep up with each other hipster doofus wannabees. Everyone in this ad is so utterly loathsome, so pretentious, so utterly devoid of the traits we generally use to describe the human condition, that to watch this thing the four or five times I would need to get a good snark going- well, you know what? Some things are simply not worth it.

I'll just note that none of these monsters dressed in human disguise seem to have anything better to do with their time but spend hour after hour waiting in line for the Next Big Thing. Are they unemployed or self-employed? Are they "living" with their parents (the word "living" used very loosely here?) Did they just call in sick so that they could blow a day in front of their favorite electronics store, getting an upgraded phone Just Because?

And I'll also note the deceptive, hypocritical tone of this ad- the people who made it are clearly making fun of these warm bags of moving refuse, and yet...are also trying to sell us a phone based on it's Cool Big Screen and 4G capability. The joke seems to me that you don't have to stand in line to get one of these Samsung phones, which are every bit as good as the latest I Phone or whatever these ugly morons are devoting a day to snatch up. Not that being obsessed with junk like this is stupid- it's just stupid to stand in line for it.

I think the bottom line is that there never seems to be an 85-year old man in a pickup truck mistaking his accelerator for the brake pedal when you need one.

Friday, December 2, 2011

I guess it's never too early to start learning your place, "Todd"

Beautiful women manipulate men to get what they want, reducing said men to pathetic, whiny, desperate dishrags at their beck and call. Doofus, overweight, loser men live in constant terror of ticking off beautiful women, and have not the slightest clue how to avoid doing it- and if two beautiful women are involved, well, Doofus Overweight Loser might as well just call it a day. All this equals just another day in TV Land. I get it. Nothing new to see here.

Except....who told the geniuses at Subway that children sound like they spend the day breathing in helium? These "kids" don't sound like anyone I know- and I'm a teacher. I wonder- does anyone at this advertising agency ever spend time with real, actual kids? Because there's no evidence here that they do- OR, if they do, they really, really hate those kids.

And based on these "funny" commercials, they aren't that thrilled about adults, either.

Am I just the Savage who refuses to take his Soma like a good boy?

Here's a woman whose entire "life" consists of playing with her cell phone. And I mean her ENTIRE life- from the moment she wakes, she's on that phone, transmitting "data" (that's an important-sounding word which now generally means nothing more than sending people "LOL" and "N PRK NOW SO BORED U?" messages,) watching movies, and "downloading an App....and another App...and another App...." (The narrator uses the term "status updates," which I think is just hilarious, since the only thing this woman needs to "update" concerning her "status" is where she is currently wasting her "life" staring at her freaking phone.)

And this is just how far we've gone as a nation in our goal to achieve a total state of societal torpor- not only is what this woman is "doing" described as normal ("you'd be shocked at how much data you use in a month..") but any problems she may seem to have to us sane, not-as-yet-assimilated humans (disconnectedness, addiction, severe crick in neck, eye strain) are presented as perfectly solvable- with Unlimited Data.

Oh, thank goodness- because for a very brief moment at the very end of this ad, it does appear as if this woman is actually going to have to try to find something to do other than play with her electronic security blanket. She proves her ability to Look Up. But the look on her face is really more than a little depressing- she's not noticing the rest of the world for the first time that day. Instead, she seems to be in quiet, brief reflection of the Wonder that is Unlimited Data. VERY brief, because now it's back to that phone. And downloading another App.

This is a picture of the world as our wonderful cell phone companies would like it to be- and as it's rapidly becoming. Everyone sitting or walking or (more and more frequently) driving around in their own little worlds, their electronic cocoons, pretending that they are somehow staying in contact with the Great Big World out there through their manipulation of tiny glowing screens (and Apps.) I feel more and more like a voice in the wilderness here, but help me understand- why would anyone want to live like this? When are we going to have an Emperor Has No Clothes moment with these damn things?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I nominate "Dinosaur! Ball! Dinosaur! Ball!" as the first great Catchphrase of 2012

Man, I love these cheap, late night, amateurish advertisements for "miracle" junk. Eagle Eye Sunglasses, Food Choppers, Magic Jacks, Snuggies- they are all so awesome in their brilliant awfulness, I almost hate to snark on them. But hey, I've got a job to do here, so....

Can we start with those kids, who for some reason are planted like stereo speakers on either side of I Swear I Am This Close To Getting Out The Gun dad, inexplicably screaming "Dinosaur!" "Ball!" "Dinosaur!" "Ball!" (What IS that argument about, anyway? One kid has a dinosaur, the other kid has a ball. What is the freaking problem? Maybe it's a contest- "let's see how long we have to keep this up before dad snaps and kills us?") We have to love these kids- they've been given one line each, and they are making the most of it.

Let's continue on to Nagging Wife in Bed, who once again reminds Daddy that he's living in a house with other people, and simply can't blast the television at the volume he'd like (a volume which may allow him to briefly forget that he's living in a house with other people?) Dad needs to explain to Mom that he's just trying to avoid the creation of any more offspring, because God Damn It if he has to listen to "Dinosaur!" "Ball!" "Glow Worm!" he really IS going to start hurting people.

The answer to this guy's horrible dilemma is a pair of headphones which allow him to drown out the world around him with the roar of the wonderful television. When he's wearing these amazing, Get An Extra Pair Just Pay Separate Shipping and Handling headphones, he can pretend the family he woke up and found himself with does not exist. Maybe he can forget- again- about that appointment his wife made to have his freaking hearing checked.

The point is that for Only $19.99 (Plus Shipping and Handling, and don't think you are getting off the phone without ordering that "free" extra pair) you can keep your sanity by escaping from your dismal existence for a while- and nobody has to get hurt. Sounds like a bargain to me.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Aimed right at the 1%, and we know where the rest of us can go

For years and years (but not for quite some time now) getting a new car for Christmas, regardless of Make and Model, was presented as a pretty darned big deal, even in No Wish Is Too Big Land, also known as Television.

Starting around 2002, giving your overindulged, pampered, suburban princess/husband/purchased sex partner a Lexus was where it was at- oh, and that Lexus had to come wrapped in a big bow.

Last year, Lexus raised the bar again- now, it's really not enough that you give the person who shares your bank account a Lexus, or even that it has a bow on it. Now it had to be wrapped in a big, home-made gift box, or a giant stocking. Or it had to be magically parked next to the fireplace in your all-marble home. Sick- but surely, that was as bad it was going to get, right?

Nope. Starting this year, anyone with the means to buy the person they are sleeping with a Lexus had better come up with some kind of cutsey, adorable way of hinting about it first. This means accessing the Lexus December To Remember Jingle- if you live in a freaking Penthouse, you arrange to have it played in the elevator on the way to the lobby, where the doorman has been tipped to keep the 99% from tearing it into spare parts. If you live in a weirdly glowing-white palace, you let the skinny, unshaven yuppie scum hedge fund manager you've sold yourself to listen to the jingle on your I Phone. In short, you had better add some imagination to make the presentation of a gleaming, 2012 Lexus an enjoyable experience- because the fact that it's a FREAKING BRAND NEW LEXUS just isn't going to cut it anymore.

Can I find the words to describe how much I loathe these ads? Here we are, just trying to live in a society in which 9 percent unemployment, stagnant wages, and growing holes in the safety net seem to be the New Normal. It's hard enough without being assaulted with these clips from Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Make that Rich, Famous, and Oblivious to the fact that the world economy is falling apart outside of their gated communities. Can Lexus please stop pretending it's the 1980s, or even the 1990s? I know you've got a product to sell, but come on- just a LITTLE sensitivity? PLEASE?

Oh, who am I kidding? Next year we'll see one of these super-privileged walking bags of refuse arranging for John Williams to perform the Lexus Jingle in the park across the street as Eternally Lucky, All-Deserving Recipient arrives home to discover that the missing element in his life has been provided for. And we'll be expected to be happy about it. That is, if we still have a television to watch it on.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Wanting a meteor to crash down and kill everyone in this commercial? So three minutes ago

There's not much I can say about his truly hate-inspiring 31 seconds of putrid, festering rubbish. Fat, unshaven zombies slouching in folding chairs at a tailgating party, staring at their cell phones, looking as if they'd lost their will to live quite some time ago and are just waiting for the inevitable pizza-induced heart attack to put them out of their misery (ours, too.) Not even looking up when new people arrive to make comments or ask questions- no, any response must be made in a muttered monotone which does not distract from gazing at those god damned screens. And of course we get the obligatory "of course we can do that pointless bullshit techno-crap (in this case, posting videos on Facebook)" scene, again delivered in a deadpan "this stopped being interesting or fun So Four Cell Phone Updates Ago" bleat.

Wow, turns out that I had more to say than I thought I did. Anyway, I really, really hate this ad, these actors, and everyone who had anything to do with this film. Maybe in the remake of "Public Citizen," Gerard Butler's character can track them all down and kill them in amazingly entertaining, gruesome and satisfying ways. Especially the dicks who responded to a question by videoing the questioner and posting it on Facebook- because respect for privacy was So Three Years Ago.

Never mind, I can't wait. Just bring on the meteor, please.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

What year does Tide think this is?

Sometimes I think that the advertising agency hired by Tide Detergent only just recently emerged from a bomb shelter after forty years, ala Brendon Fraser in "Blast from the Past." How else can one explain these "laundry is the natural domain of Women, so let's shock and amuse the audience by showing men doing it" commercials?

This guy prattles on and on about what most of us guys who live in the real world already know- that men are perfectly capable of adding detergent, moving the wash to the dryer, and ultimately folding it properly- hey, some of us even manage to put it away in the proper drawers without setting the house on fire, no fooling!! The vibe I get is that he expects some kind of freaking medal- or, at least, is trying really hard to convince us that he's still a Man ("I'm going to do crunches in the other room") despite the fact that he's doing "women's" work.

Seriously, Tide? Could you be just a LITTLE more condescending, insulting, and retrograde? I do laundry. I also vacuum and cook (and by "cook," I don't mean stir up a pot of Kraft Mac' n Cheese, either.) I don't have any kids- but if I did, I wouldn't refer to myself as a "Mom Dad" (I really want to hurt the dickweed who came up with that one) because "Dad" would work just fine. Probably because I wouldn't feel insecure about DOING MY SHARE. Ugh.

You know, it's easy to imagine the fungus down at the neighborhood bar reminding Mom Dad of the fact that he folded laundry and referring to it as the "second unmanly thing" he did that day. I'd hope he would respond with a not very polite rejoinder before getting back to his family- but judging from this guy's defensiveness, he'd probably just order a Miller Lite.

You'd think Tide would invest a few dollars in field research before approving junk like this- and "field research" does NOT include screening "Mr. Mom." I'd settle for the ad men who threw together this tepid mess crawling back into their bomb shelter. You won't be missed, guys- and I suspect that sentiment is shared by the women in your lives.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Tells us everything we need to know about the last forty years

Once upon a time (the Seventies, I think,) there was this nice-looking guy named Peter who found himself far from home on the holidays. Peter, you see, was working his butt off studying Medieval English Literature up at State University, and his job soliciting money for Clean Water Action just didn't bring in enough spare cash to pay for a plane ticket. However, at the last minute, and thanks to a Need A Ride post on the Student Union bulletin board, Peter got a ride to his front door in a rolling icebox with wheels (or what they used to call a Volkswagen Bug- what regular readers of this blog know was my very first car, btw) on Christmas Eve. It was a miracle worthy of a Hallmark Holiday Movie.

Peter was very quiet as he walked into the house, knowing that it was very, very early, but Cindy Lou Who heard him come in, and she came down to let him know that "everyone's asleep." Peter isn't all that interested in just crashing on the couch until Mom, Dad, Brother and Sister in Law (this is how I always saw it, anyway) want to get up, so he opens a can of really awful coffee and gets the automatic drip machine going. Showing very little common sense, he puts the lid-less glass carafe and cups out to get cold in roughly three minutes, but never mind. Everyone smells the coffee and gets up. Mom exclaims "Peter!," handshakes and hugs are passed around, yay Christmas.

Flash forward to 2011. The Volkswagen Bug has been banned for manufacture in the United States, so some overindulged choad gets to show up in plenty of time for the festivities in his new, $60,000 Audi. He pulls up to Mom and Dad's palatial winter palace. Instead of getting a greeting and a hug as he enters the house he grew up in, he finds that Mom and Dad have sneaked out behind him and stolen his car. Son is left standing in an empty living room, asking if anyone is home, while Mom and Dad are off on a freaking joy ride in Son's vanity purchase. Oh the joy. Oh the hilarity.

I'm really hoping that his next step is to call the police. When Mom and Dad are hauled in, he denies the relationship and files full charges. He spends the holidays at Mom and Dad's house, cranking the thermostat to 85 and leaving beer cans everywhere. When Mom and Dad are released on bail, he heads back to his brick townhouse in his Audi and changes his last name.

Oh, and then everyone associated with this commercial dies. Because this is not progress. This is just gross. We used to be kind of sweet, in a saccharine, cloying sort of way. What the hell happened to us?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I'm Thankful commercials like this are few and far between

It's not like there's nothing to snark on here. We could easily point out that Doofus Dad at the Store is so clueless that he needed an electronic list consisting of a whopping FOUR items, lest he forget "milk." We could snark on the fact that he is willing to do anything his phone tells him to do, and for quite some time refuses to question what The Phone is saying- so he allows himself to believe that at the last moment, the Wife remembered that she needed soda, coconuts, candy.....

We could even share stories about how often we've found ourselves behind the Not Quite Done Shopping guy, who normally has an accomplice running around the store grabbing stuff off the shelves while he is taking up our time getting his cart scanned. You know the guy- the one who thinks that it's perfectly ok to ask you to wait while the Rest of his Stuff shows up to be scanned. Because you have all the time in the world.

But I'm not going to do either of those things today. The fact is that I'm full of food and happy to have the day off to watch football, and even if I wasn't in a good mood, I'd find this a pretty darned cute commercial. I especially like the kids at the end- their expressions look perfectly legitimate and unscripted. So good for whoever made this ad- your only real fail is that when it's over, I don't know what you are trying to sell me.

But please, advertising agencies, don't try to make more good commercials like this. You'd put me right out of a hobby.

"Ummm...tastes ok. Now where's my Lexus?"

Ugh, almost a full thirty seconds of watching these grinning examples of the Whitest People To Ever Occupy This Planet go through what they apparently think is a super-cutesy way to present Mommy with this year's Just Because The Economy is Collapsing Doesn't Mean You Shouldn't Buy It stupid, super-indulgent little toy.

Mommy just LOVES her morning Latte. Well good for mommy- mommy also LOVES her suburban palace with the hardwood floors that is so damned big that she can't hear people come and go from her bedroom (oh, and check out the dimensions of the kitchen, too. Yes, I can SO relate to these people.) Mommy really LOVES her grinning, Brady Bunch-wannabee Husband and Child, who are so gosh-darned thrilled out of their freaking minds to be playing this Oh God Won't The Neighbors Love Hearing about this little joke on Mommy. I can't tell you how glad I am that this family had such a WONDERFUL time setting up the PERFECT way to provide Mommy with her newest little appliance, just right for that spot next to the SodaStream, Brewbot and automatic bagel slicer. And I don't even mind that it's clearly not Christmas morning- nope, this isn't a Christmas present, it's Just Because. Lovely.

I hope they find a way to describe all the freaking grinning that goes on in this ad. Jesus, even the woman of Uncertain Ethnicity at the No Longer Necessary Trendy Coffee Place Mommy Loves gets into the act, as Daddy and Child act like stealth yuppies, dashing in to grab a cup and lid (on Daddy's signal, no less) and leaving exact change on the counter (probably the only time in the past year Daddy has been careful with his money.) And back home, we simply MUST use milk out of freaking GLASS bottle, because otherwise, well, it just wouldn't be perfect now, would it?

Yes, it's all so Delightful and Nice and Cloying and I sure hope they show this commercial again and again and again in the next month, I really do. Because I just can't get enough of watching Rich White People get Every Single One of their hearts' desires fulfilled. Tis the season, after all.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Oh my God, tell me I am just imagining things....

What just happened here? What did we just miss?

Why does this woman look like she's just been injected with a serious cocktail of tranquilizers, or is just waking from a ten-year coma? Why does she look like she has not seen the sun in decades?

Why are these people outside in the snow, laying flat on their backs, looking up at nothing? Why does the guy think this is the appropriate time to hand this girl a rock?

And I'm sorry, I just have to say it- should these people be dressed? I mean, the entire vibe of this sixteen-second nugget of nothing is that something that can't be shown on non-premium cable has just happened between these two. How did they get back into their six layers of winter gear?

Oh and by the way, am I the only person out here who wants to track down the "artist" who wrote and sang the smarmy soundtrack and beat him to death with a heavy blunt instrument? I mean, Christmas is still more than a month away. And then there's Valentine's Day. Just think how many times we are going to be seeing and hearing this "all she wants is a trinket" garbage between now and then.

Between this and the ubiquitous Pretty White People Giving Each other Lexuses ads, it's going to be a very, very long winter.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Step Ahead of What?

Know what is really depressing about cell phone commercials like these? It's that they are becoming increasingly familiar and believable.

A few years ago, we couldn't really imagine seeing people walking around staring at their cell phones and muttering at the carbon-based life forms in the vicinity about what they happened to be looking at on their cell phones. A few years ago, we couldn't imagine snarking at other people because their phones were almost 3 percent slower at downloading information than ours. A few years ago (well, ok- maybe seven or eight years ago, now) we would have thought that the sight of two people eating lunch together but not looking at each other, and instead spending all their time and attention on their stupid f--ing phones was just plain silly, and totally unrealistic.

Not anymore. What we see in this ad is the New Normal- ditzy losers who simply cannot tear themselves away from their portable idiot boxes, constantly attempting to one-up each other in the field of "connectivity"- never mind that we won't see another population of less-connected losers until the next commercial for cell phones offering super-fast download speeds. Oddly, all this lightning-fast accessibility does is allow people to do what is basically Nothing, more Quickly. I have yet to see a cell phone ad which shows anyone's life being improved one iota by technology which allows for 24-hour availability and blink-of-an-eye downloading. In fact, all these commercials ever show me is how incredibly, mind-numbingly stupid and antisocial cell phones make people in tv land.

And in real life. Because like I said before, scenes like this are becoming more and more common every day. Not just in the exaggerated world of television, but in parks, libraries, restaurants, and everywhere else one has "connectivity." Which is just about everywhere now. Keeping us a step ahead- of actual conversations? Of exploring our own thoughts? Of taking a moment to enjoy the scenery? Someone, help me out here- why is this a good thing again?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Quick Soul Check

If you think that life is all about staring at a little glowing screen as you walk down the street, sit on park benches, ride buses and trains, or are supposed to be playing with your kids or socializing with that person you for some reason agreed to have lunch with, I feel really sorry for you- but even more sorry for the people who know you. Because your soul is suffering from a lack of oxygen.

If you aren't already angry at the idea that your life would be in any way improved by No Limit Data Downloading on your I Phone, it's on life support.

And if your heart doesn't break at the 21 second mark- if that final scene doesn't want to make you call Child Protective Services, or at least offer to settle for joint custody- you don't have one.

That's all.

"We'd LOVE to be handing you another big check?" Yeah, right!

Let me see if I get this straight- the State Farm Agent in this commercial (we know she's the State Farm Agent because her name plate says "Agent" on it- thanks, State Farm- we are pretty stupid) reminds her former client that HE dumped State Farm? This after she asks if "Jerry" wrapped his car around a pole AGAIN?

Come on- State Farm is an Insurance Company. That means, it exists to take premiums in exchange for a plastic card required by most state laws (mine is red and white and costs $1100 per year- it's like an exclusive club membership, except that it comes with no visible benefits.) It isn't interested in actually paying out. Insurance companies are like Casinos that way- they get big and successful when the money flows in one direction. It seems a lot more likely that "Jerry" had one too many expensive mishaps with his car, and State Farm decided to cut him loose.

That being said, "Jessica" is being sarcastic and more than a little vicious (but not too over-the-top for an AGENT talking to a CLIENT who cost the company MONEY) when she politely reminds Jerry that hey, sorry, you are some other company's problem now (I'm sure the "fifteen minutes" line is an allusion to Geico.) But not to worry, "Jerry"- you can bet that company will either jack up your rates or dump you as soon as it gets around to paying out. Try Allstate.

Or better yet, look into public transportation. Because you've clearly got some serious problems here. You are going to run out of companies willing to provide you with a policy if you keep doing this to your cars. Again- insurance companies are there to take your money and make stupid commercials, not pay claims. And you are what the business calls a seriously bad risk.

(Oh, and "DeClercq?" Really?)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

"However, none of my relatives are on food stamps. So Congress should feel free to cut that."

1. I'm sure Dad wouldn't mind if Deeply Concerned Daughter waited until she was in the hallway before she started to tell us how Dad is becoming a bigger and bigger burden every minute, dammit.

2. Concerned Daughter seems genuinely astonished that Dad needs MORE care as he gets older, and not LESS. I'm not sure what planet daughter lives on. I wonder if she used to become perplexed at her weird children who, against all expectations, grew larger rather than smaller as they aged.

3. Those eyes. Oh good lord, those eyes. Pained, Deeply Troubled Expression, direct from Central Casting. I get it, lady- you are losing sleep because Dad's upkeep is starting to take a bigger and bigger bite out of your household budget, and dammit you don't know WHAT you are going to do if The Government ever cuts back on the percentage of the bill it's willing to pay. Please, put those eyes away- they are pure nightmare fuel. And don't you ever, EVER show up on an Americans Against Taxing Anything commercial, or seriously, I'm going to have to hurt you.

I'm all for leaving Medicare funding alone. In fact, I'm for opening up Medicare for everybody who wants to buy into it (you know, like Barack Obama was, before he ran for President. Back when he was someone worth voting for.) No politician who votes to cut the deficit by cutting Medicare will ever, EVER get my vote, let alone a contribution. But this woman's exaggerated Gaze of Concern is just a bit too much. Jeesh, you'd think someone was asking her to pay another five cents per 2-liter bottle of soda or fruit juice.

Friday, November 18, 2011

I guess it's because I don't live there?

I don't know what's happening in this commercial. I mean, I know it's taking place on the Brooklyn Bridge, but I don't know why. I don't know why people are startled by the sight of this played-out insurance spokes-lizard. I don't know why the played-out insurance spokes-lizard is strolling right down the middle of what looks to be a two-way pedestrian walkway.

I get that at the very end, Geico's little Comes Cheaper than the Cavemen computer-generated image panders shamelessly to the people of Brooklyn. I don't get why that would make anyone want to check out the insurance. This thing also seems to suggest that there's no point in buying insurance if you live in Brooklyn anyway because there's no place to park a car- I mean, that is what it's saying, right? Does this make any sense at all- "don't buy our product if you live here?"

I guess I'll just put this ad into the file marked Went Right Over My Head. I'm sure it makes sense to somebody. And I'm not reading the comments, but I have no doubt that the Youtube knuckle-draggers are just crazy about the music. That's something, anyway.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Here's a better idea

Sure, I'd rather see people shopping at small businesses than Wal Mart, Best Buy, Target, Sears, JC Penny, Hecht's, and all the other huge box stores which have done an awesome job gutting America's economic base by running those small businesses OUT of business with cheap products and low wages. No question.

But beyond giving the middle finger to these bloodsuckers, I wonder why it really matters where we buy Made in China/Malaysia/Pakistan/Vietnam junk the Friday after Thanksgiving, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, or any other day of the year. After all, this ad isn't asking us to buy Made in America products- just the same junk being offered in an different, smaller venue. Does the local hardware store on the corner pay a living wage to it's cashier? Does the ice cream parlor up the street offer the girl who works forty hours a week health insurance? If not, why are they really any better than the Sprawl Marts of the world?

Here's a better idea- on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, STAY HOME AND OFF LINE. Don't shop at all. Sleep in. Play with your kids. Watch DVDs. Take out those old board games. Ask your neighbors over for coffee and leftovers. Go to the park. And leave your wallet in your pocket.

If this crashes the system, the system deserves to be crashed. Especially if that system thinks it can get away with cloying bs like this. Hell, they don't even tell you to use cash rather than credit- just another Buy Buy Buy commercial, wrapped in a flag. Enough already.

I strongly suggest that everyone just stay home the weekend after Thanksgiving. Maybe it will catch on- keep the money out of the economy the next weekend, too. And the weekend after that. And all the way through Christmas. Pop in a "Grinch Who Stole Christmas" DVD to remind yourself and your kids that the holidays DON'T require ribbons and boxes and tags.

Instead of Shopping Small on Small Business Saturday, how about not shopping at all- ANY Saturday? We really COULD make a big impact. Just not the one they are expecting.

We have nothing to lose but our VISA balances.

Monday, November 14, 2011

In this case, it won't bother me so much when all these jobs get outscourced to Pakistan

The official unemployment rate in the United States is 9%. When you calculate the REAL unemployment rate- the one that includes people who have simply given up trying to find a job, it's around 16%.

And that doesn't include the underemployed-- there are millions of part-time workers in this country who used to be full-time workers, and who are going deeper and deeper into debt because while their hours and benefits have been cut, their expenses have not.

And then there are the people who work very hard at unfulfilling, long-hour, low-wage jobs, because those jobs provide their only possible access to even mediocre health insurance. Because those jobs make it possible to pay the rent, the mortgage, the grocery and day care bills. Those jobs make a college education for the 2-year old who depends on them at least somewhat plausible.

And then there are these people, who are so appreciative of their employer that they just can't get enough of wasting time on their super-fast phones. And why shouldn't they be appreciative- their boss "gets" it, and even gives them encouragement in their determination to slack off.

I'm sure the overworked or underworked, harried or bored and desperate, worried and/or discouraged people watching football with the family when this ad comes on- again and again- share a good laugh at the antics of these wacky office sillies. They make employment seem so inviting, so easy, don't they? And they are just so darned grateful for the opportunity to stay off the Unemployment line- aren't they?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

It's never too early to set up the next generation of debtors

Or perhaps it should be "it's never too early to set up the next generation of debtors by providing them with unrealistic expectations concerning money. That is, that money can buy happiness, or that using a credit card to purchase thousands of dollars worth of junk in order to earn 'points' which can then be redeemed to buy a ticket to the most Overrated Sporting Event in World History is a good economic plan." But I didn't want to overwhelm the title box.

So instead, I'll leave the caption the way it is, and point out that this stupid old dick doesn't seem satisfied that his granddaughter is happy spending time with grampa and would just like a candy bar. No, he's going to buy her Everything Her Little Heart Desires under the guise of being "generous," when in fact he's just trying to accumulate "points." Gee, what an awesome message to be sending an impressionable little girl. Thanks, Visa. And thanks, NFL. For fulfilling our already very, very low expectations of you.

Can someone explain to me please what goes through the heads of people who might actually do what this guy is doing? I mean, how many synapses have to seriously misfire to convince a person that it's a good idea to spend thousands and thousands of dollars you don't have in order to accumulate enough "points" to buy something ELSE? Why doesn't this guy just BUY A FREAKING TICKET TO THE SUPERBOWL? This makes about as much sense as spending a hundred dollars throwing plastic rings on glass bottles, hoping to win a stuffed animal on sale at the gift shop for $15. What am I missing here?

And if this guy insists on living in a delusional little alternate reality where somehow accumulating gallons of debt in order to gain a shot glass of "rewards" makes sense, could he at least leave his innocent little granddaughter out of it? I mean, she's still young- shouldn't she be given a CHANCE to avoid being brainwashed into believing that the pretty plastic card is the key to happiness? Because this....this is just wrong.