Thursday, June 30, 2011

Those Asians! Is there anything they CAN'T do?

Considering how many Amazing Miracle Products were first "discovered" by people living in China thousands of years ago, it is truly astonishing that we aren't all speaking Chinese and eating diets rich in rice, fish and veggies (too bad, too.)

This commercial for an "Air Bead" Pillow even features an Asian-looking girl wearing flowered pajamas contentedly settling her pretty little head down for what we know will be yet another peaceful, uninterrupted night of comfortable rest. Meanwhile, we in the Un-Enlightened Western World are still putting our ridiculously heavy (ten pounds! Who knew?) rock heads on worthless, fluffy and ultimately crippling Not-Beaded pillows! What is the matter with us?

I mean, do we LIKE waking up in INCREDIBLE pain, starting our day by sharing our agony with our spouses (who wake up simultaneously, with the same complaint)? How are we to remain The Most Productive Work Force on the Planet if we can't get a decent night's sleep?

Thank goodness we've been clued in to the miracle of the buckwheat pillow. Yet, even though I'm pretty sure Buckwheat is plentiful, this pillow isn't filled with the stuff. Instead it features Air Beads, which I guess is as close to Synthetic Buckwheat as we can get. These "Air Beads" allow the pillow to adjust to our obese noggins and eliminate the roughly 6-7 hours per night we spend punching our traditional Inferior Western-style pillows.

Can I tell you how much I love the Glass Tubes and Eggs demonstration? It's not that we get to watch a 10-lb weight crush eggs not once, not twice, but three times (it left me wishing that pillows were filled with many other different substances- I did not want this part of the commercial to end, truly.) It's more the guy in the white lab coat who is conducting this "demonstration"- he really looks like a serious engineering student, not even cracking the hint of a smile as he performs what he must realize is an ABSURDLY STUPID ACT- THREE TIMES!! I mean, he's wearing a white lab coat! And are those glasses, or safety goggles? (Shattered eggshells have caused blindness in lab rats attempting this experiment at home, you know!)

And can I tell you how much I love the fact that the claim I made in my last post for "High-Definition Aviators" is reinforced here? If you order your Air Bead Pillow right now, you can get a pillow case for no extra charge- "just pay extra shipping and processing." How much do you think it costs to ship a pillow case? How much do you think these guys charge?

Anyway, this is yet another commercial which makes me smile more than it makes me frown. I really hope this isn't a trend. My guess is that there's a truly horrible cell phone ad coming up very shortly which will bring this streak to an abrupt end, and I'll be back to my usual cynical crabbiness. And life will go back to normal.

Until then- I really think these guys made a mistake of not just using buckwheat as the filler for this pillow. Then they could REALLY claim an ancient Asian connection for this product.

Unless the Air Beads are what I think they are- crushed packing peanuts. 'Cause I imagine they are really cheap, and only slightly louder than a bag of buckwheat.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Oh, it's a "steal," all right. And if you had these glasses, you might have seen it coming!

Oh my, can I find the words to express how much I LOVE commercials for cheap, "miracle" sunglasses?

I mean, what's not to love? You get the preposterous claims- these glasses provide "high-definition vision." Umm, isn't that what your eyes already do? These aren't prescription glasses, designed to correct bad vision caused by astigmatism or anything else. All they can possibly claim to do is block sunlight. How does this result in "high-definition vision?" Unless they actually REPLACE your EYES as a seeing tool, this claim simply makes no sense. None.

You get the hilarious "it's amazing you've lived this long without this product" breathless warnings- maybe you didn't realize it, but you've been driving your car practically blind for all these years, dangerous sun glare (which really ought to be banned, it's so darned distracting, you can barely even SEE that ever-present school bus) making every trip to the grocery store a duel with death. Don't you want to live to see another summer? Well, here's how you can make that at least a little more likely- with this product, you can SEE STUFF instead of colliding with it.

You get the beautiful people who are easily amazed, not only at the awesome product, but also it's OMIGOD YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING low price. Ten dollars? For sunglasses? But sunglasses can cost $300!! These are only ten dollars? NO WAY!! Everyone in this ad thought FOR SURE they must cost $75, or "at LEAST a hundred dollars!" Of course, what always makes this work is the willingness of these "I'm really going to be in a commercial? Cool!" idiots to pretend that it's perfectly reasonable to believe that a company would produce an Amazing, Must-Have Item and then use a cheap commercial to sell it to the general public for one-tenth it's value.

But Wait, There's More...

We get the "free" second pair of glasses "Just Pay Extra Shipping and Handling." Death and Taxes are not the only certainties of life. There's also the five additional Sham Wows, the extra Dog Silencer, the Miracle Chopper, or the Upgrade package which is ALWAYS offered along with the SuperCheap product, as long as you are willing to "Upgrade" to a higher price through inflated shipping and handling fees. Because this is where the money is actually made- when people are suckered into paying $20 shipping for separate packages which weigh a total of a few ounces.

My favorite line in this ad: a woman tries on the sunglasses and says "I think I actually see better wearing these than if I were wearing no glasses at all."

Hey lady- take it from a guy who has been wearing glasses or contact lenses since the age of eight- that is the POINT OF WEARING GLASSES. To SEE BETTER THAN YOU CAN WITHOUT THEM. Because despite what you might think from all the America's Best posters, people generally don't wear glasses to make a fashion statement. We wear them so that we don't look like idiots crashing into walls.

Of course, no amount of vision correction can spare some people from being taken by scammers who peddle crap like these glasses. Which is why these commercials exist. And since I kind of like this style of stupidity, I'm actually kind of glad that they do.

Plus, the girls in these ads are always pretty hot. Stupid, but hot.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Maybe he has money?

Ugh, can you believe this? Somehow an emotionally detached 8-year old living in a 25-year old's body has landed a hot girlfriend, despite the fact that he's quite vocal about the fact that he's not at all interested in her beyond her ability to be a warm body on the couch while he plays with his electronic toys.

So to shut her up (he practically says this out loud) he got some bundle plan which landed her an "ok play with this and leave me alone" phone and got him a new "this helps me ignore the fact I've got a hot girlfriend" toy.

"She likes the fact that it brought us closer"- um, it did? Oh, you mean physically? Because she's willing to sit next to you while she plays with her phone and you ignore her? Clearly the guy doesn't mean closer emotionally- because there's no emotion being emitted from this juvenile, callous little runt. None.

"I love you" Hot Girlfriend mews desperately. "I love you" Coldhearted User responds- and then turns to the camera and takes advantage of her deafness- or lobotomy- by adding "Playstation."

I guess this guy's sneering dismissive behavior toward his girlfriend's sad need for a boyfriend- ANY boyfriend- is supposed to be funny. I guess his "love" of Playstation is supposed to be typical. And all of this put together is supposed to make us fans of the company that made this advertisement. Well, if I was a selfish jerk with ice-water in my veins, or if I were suffering from arrested development and was still into video games after the age of 16, or if I were BLIND and didn't notice I had this HOT GIRLFRIEND WHO JUST TOLD ME SHE LOVES ME curled up on my couch, I guess I could relate to all this. But I'm not any of those things, so this kind of crap just repels me.

Now, if the girl responded in a way which demonstrated that she has any dignity or self-respect, that would be SOMETHING. But the guy who wrote this dreck wasn't going to let that scene survive the final cut.

Monday, June 27, 2011

I've heard better pickup lines....

A woman with oddly inconsistent space issues and a voice so low I seriously can barely hear it (and I'm not in a grocery store filled with idiots blathering on their cell phones, tinny music, or screaming children) decides that the cute guy commenting on her choice of toothpaste is trying to pick her up and proceeds to flirt with him, exchanging little tartar-based quips in the hopes that FINALLY a chance encounter which does not take place in a lame romantic movie will actually lead to something and save her next month's eHarmony fee.

(Full Disclosure: If this woman were my college girlfriend, she'd call me moments after returning home from the store to let me know that a guy tried to pick her up while she was shopping for toothpaste. Of course, my college girlfriend thought that the guy handing her her change at 7-11 was flirting with her because he said "have a nice day" and once told me when I returned from the restroom that the waiter had made a pass at her when he refilled her water glass "because of the way he looked at me." She was a strange girl. I miss her.)

This woman first does a cute "Oh I didn't see that because I'm stupid/illiterate" take when Cute Guy points out that hey, idiot, Sensodyne toothpaste comes with tartar control and whitening and all that stuff, says so on the label, so you don't have to buy two tubes of toothpaste, and now that I've saved you three dollars, you owe me a date. Then she delivers a line which suggests that "stupid" is probably the best guess- "you sound like my dentist." What does this mean? Her dentist told her than Sensodyne comes with tartar control/whitening? If that's the case, why was she still buying two tubes of toothpaste?

Or does this woman just stand in the toothpaste aisle holding two tubes of paste, waiting for some Cute Guy to point out that she's an idiot? What the hell?

(Another Full Disclosure: I use this toothpaste, because I have very sensitive teeth. I buy the tartar control/whitening stuff because it costs the same as regular, and I CAN READ. My dentist recommended it. So this guy sounds like MY dentist, too.)

Now I'm wondering if this works for guys- if I stand in the toothpaste aisle looking completely perplexed (how hard could it be? So many choices...) will a cute girl come along and offer to read the cartons for me, helpfully pointing out that I don't need to buy several tubes to get all the Protection That I Need?

I think I'll try a variation of this guy's awesome strategy next time I'm at the local Giant grocery-- I'll "helpfully" point out to the Cute Girl that "you know, you don't HAVE to buy chocolate syrup AND milk, they have chocolate milk in the cooler over here..." I'm sure we'll be engaged by the time we hit the parking lot. And it won't bother me one bit that I'm engaged to a really stupid girl, because after all, she was just trying to lure me in with her adorable cluelessness, right?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

You win, Smirnoff's

I started this blog on New Year's Day, 2009, convinced that after a few months I'd get bored with it or, more likely, simply run out of bad commercials to snark on. I mean, there aren't THAT many really bad advertisements out there, right?

Two and a half years and more than 400 commercials later, I've finally hit a roadblock. I don't know if this advertisement is clever or stupid. I don't know if it's for anti-lock brakes, or eHarmony (anyone else think that the heavily-painted blond passenger is just a little too young for the guy she's with? Anyone else think the guy looks an awful lot like Jeremy Irons?) or what. The small print at the end tells me it's for Vodka, but how could that be- unless the truck that nearly kills this oddly matched couple is being driven by a guy who's had one too many screwdrivers at the local dive?

I don't get how a near-death experience results in the driver parking at a romantic scenic view and taking off his wedding ring. Did the guy's life pass in front of him as he swerved to miss the truck, causing him to realize that he can do better than this girl and the clock is ticking? Or did the almost-accident have no impact at all- the plan was to break it off, and that's what the guy who played The Green Goblin in the first Spider-Man movie is going to do?

I don't get the editing job which changes the entire story, either.

Let's cut to the chase; I surrender to the mysterious brilliance, or dumbfounding idiocy, of this ad. I'm still not going to drink Vodka though. If I want a headache, I'll hit myself with a hammer, thanks anyway.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Stop what you're Doing, and start Watching!

Now just think, for one moment, what the message of this ad for Xfinity really is.

The people in the commercial sure seem to be active. They jump around (mainly, they jump into chairs and on to couches, but hey, they JUMP.) They magically move from place to place. They must have some kind of social life, because they seem to interact with a lot of people.

But in the end, the message here is "sit and watch tv. Lots of tv. Wherever you are- at home. In the office. On the train, or in the park. Hell, watch it in your car when the light is red- or when you are driving really slowly. Just watch tv constantly, ok?"

Because it's "fun" to watch tons and tons of tv. With friends. Because tv allows you to surround yourself with people and not actually interact with them (it's like a cell phone, but bigger, and with Tina Fey.) Remember how you used to have to leave television at home, and how life was barely worth living until you could back to your couch and your glowing screen? Remember how empty life was in the No Television Available Outside World, with it's annoying people and nature and sights? Those days- let's call them the Dark Ages- are over.

Because life is all about Fun, and Fun is all about Television. Everywhere. All the time. Download it. Store it. Watch it. Download some more. Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

And don't forget- everyone shares your obsession with television so much, there's never any need for headphones. I really want to hear what you've got on that I Pad, even more than I want to hear your side of every conversation you have on your phone (your ringtones are awesome, please let them play for at least two minutes before answering) and even more than I want to know your taste in music (so please keep the volume on your MP3 player way up, and keep using those virtually-pointless ear buds, especially on the subway.) And when you drive past my house at 2 AM, please remember to keep your windows down and the bass pounding.

Because it's all about sitting and watching and listening and sharing. All the time.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I wonder if CitiBank would give me a line of credit for my guillotine factory

As a typical American, I was just quietly enjoying my mineral water/facial mud treatment while sitting in a steaming pool of volcano-heated water in Iceland when I thought to myself "surely the age of Imperialistic raping of a nation's natural resources can't be over already, can it?"

So I called CitiBank and told them that since this Icelandic Mud was doing wonders for my skin, I figured I could make a whole lot of money by packaging it and shipping it back home to the good old USA, a nation fortunately populated by wan-faced losers so desperate to stay young-looking that they'll buy the idea of "Icelandic Mud." A hundred thousand plastic tubs, a few ice cream scoops, a little elbow grease and twelve UPS trucks later, my Icelandic Mud Facial Treatment was really drawing in the suckers---- errr, customers-- to my Exclusive Spa.

As a side note, my success in using stolen Icelandic Mud to increase the size of my bank account has had trickle-down benefits for my cleaning staff. Frederica, Rosa, and Rosa's eight year old boy, I don't know his name, I just call him Pepe because it seems to fit- are really grateful for the extra time I have to employ them to mop up the muddy footprints of the Beautiful White People With Money who populate my world.

Know what's weird? I keep hearing this stuff about "recessions" and "99ers" and "high unemployment" and "Under Water Mortgages." It's as if everyone wants to bad-mouth the economy, like there's something wrong with it. If you ask me, as long as there are people willing to drop serious dough at my Spa to cover themselves in mud from another country, we are doing just great, thank you very much.

I also hear that Americans have lost their historic edge in innovation and entrepreneurship. Well, I think I've single-handedly smashed that myth. Maybe we don't lead the world in "Education" or "Production" or even "Credit Rating." But how many countries have people with the vision and confidence to imagine making money by selling mud?? And how many countries can brag a population of consumers willing to buy watery dirt so they can spread it all over themselves? Take that, Japan!

And I bet the Icelandians- Icelanders? Whatever!- don't even MISS their mud.

So thank you, CitiBank, for allowing me to take my Dreams and make them into Realities. I wish you had been around years ago, when I had other Dreams- I think they may have involved teaching, or being a doctor, or doing something socially uplifting and soul-redeeming and useful. Not sure, it's been so long since I've thought about ANYTHING other than money and how to make more of it. But you are here now, which means I don't have to worry about any of that silly stuff any more.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Indescribably Bad

Some commercials are just so darned awful, they actually defy my ability to snark on them. I mean, what can one say about an ad which starts off with two ugly little kids sitting at the kitchen table staring at their dad, waiting with baited breath, just hoping he'll notice the plate of cookies sitting right in front of him and eat one?

And what can one say about the sheer excitement and joy these kids express when they see that their dad shares their enthusiasm over this particular brand of cookie?

And I really don't know what else to add to the stream of adjectives used to describe the experience of eating one of these cookies.* We get the point long before the ad is over, but because no commercial can ever be allowed to end until at least ten seconds after we've begun to grow very sick of it, the inane blathering of this severely ill and bored Family with Zero Life continues, ending with Grandpa's "Franklin Delano!" punchline (is it called a punchline because it makes you want to punch someone? Because if it is, it works here.)

So I guess it's Mission Accomplished for the kids- by investing in a bag of Fudge Slavered Oreos and placing them in front of parents and grandparents, they've managed to hook the whole family on a brand new cavity-and-body fat promoting taste treat. I suspect it's now time to rush to Facebook to LIKE these things. Congratulations, kids- the next thousand bags are on the "adults" of the house.

Funny- I can remember when there was only one kind of Oreo cookie on the market. Then they came out with Double Stuff (I guess they noticed that kids were creating these on their own by discarding half the wafer sections.) Then there were multiple flavors, and now they come dipped in fudge. I suppose the next step is to coat them in sugar and butter and deep fry them? Thanks in advance, Nabisco!

*According to YouTube posters, "Shut the Front Door" is already appearing on t-shirts. As if I need another reason to want to hit somebody...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

How could she read his mind over all that rattling noise?

1. Remember when salespeople used to introduce themselves with greetings like "May I Help You?" The way this woman pounces on the potential customer is extremely aggressive and off-putting. I'd like the guy to respond to her "oh, this is what you were looking at" opening barrage with a "yeah, I know, I was just looking at it, if I need some help, this isn't a large store, I'm sure I'll be able to find you..."

2. The guy thinks to himself "how can I convince my wife...." convince your wife of what? Your need for this stupid, pointless, money-sucking little toy, this high-priced excuse to spend more time on your ass looking at stuff instead of out in the world doing stuff? Is that what you want to convince her of? Well, if you are a pathetic, technology-obsessed "information" addict, I suppose what the saleswoman says next may give you a hint. However...

3. What DOES this woman say? Seriously, this bizarre gibberish goes way over my head every time I hear it. I think the word "packet" is in there somewhere. And the word "love." As in, something like "your wife will LOVE the fact that this thing has PACKETS." But I don't know- I watched it three times, and that's my limit. I'm not getting paid to do this, you know.

There's also something about this device being able to do what this guy almost certainly can already do on the I Phone we know he already has- find a dentist, or something. Oh, but with this device the map is in 3D, I guess. Seriously, whatever.

I'll conclude with my favorite line- "did this woman just read my mind?" Well, you know what, buddy? My guess is, it wasn't that hard. This woman works at a Verizon store, and it's her job to convince idiots with money burning holes in their pockets that they "need" just one more glowing screen in their lives to make themselves complete. A guy like you walks in wearing a $500 suit and starts staring stupidly at The Next Cool Thing- and she figures out that you want to be talked into buying it. I don't think that necessarily means that her name tag reads "Nostradamus," but feel free to be impressed.

Doesn't seem to take much, anyway.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Or maybe it's just an ad for birth control?

There is so much to hate on here despite the brevity of this commercial, but I have to get to school to give my final exams, so let's just run down the list, shall we?

1. The I Phone isn't just another item in a pile of merchandise being purchased at Wal-Mart; it's actually OUT OF IT'S BOX already. AS IT'S BEING SCANNED. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

2. The living room that has been taken over by this little girl and her pink toys. What the hell? Is Wal-Mart afraid that we won't be convinced that this little kid is a female unless she's buried in pink? Good thing her dad's not looking for the Pepto-Bismol.

3. Do the people who make this ad really believe that "permanent mounting tape" really hold things permanently? If that were true, the posters of the Presidents I put up in my classroom every September would stay there forever, and I would have to teach in the same room, every year.

4. This is the worst- this girl's father can't get the phone unstuck from the thin plastic wall (in real life, the whole house would have ripped and fallen apart at the first tug- I had a baby sister, so I know how sturdy these Barbie playhouses are) so he actually gets on his hands and knees to plead with "Mr Stockton" and assure him that "I'm looking at the figures right now." Seriously, Wal-Mart? The "if you have an I Phone, you are always at work" theme is bad enough (I would have preferred that the guy tell his boss "I'll be in the office on time, as usual, and we'll discuss the fucking sales figures then, ok Mr. Stockton? Because there's the time in my life I work for you, and then there's the time where I am with my family and NOT working for you. Having a phone that can download sales figures doesn't mean I am on the clock 24/7, you slave-driving bastard..") but....

I'm sure I'm just being overly sensitive again, but a black man on his hands and knees, eyes bugged out, letting his unseen boss know that he's on the job and everything is just fine- well, ugh. This is just wrong. Not to mention an argument against getting an I Phone, not an argument for getting one.

BTW, is this a commercial for Wal-Mart, I-Phones, Barbie Playhouses, or permanent tape? I'm surprised the guy didn't buy a case of Coke, a bag of Doritos, and a bottle of Advil while he was at it- and didn't stop by McDonald's to pick up a Happy Meal and iced coffee on the way home.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

For people who know the price of everything, and the value of nothing

This dog reminds me of people I actually know. They are the kind of people that those cultish "Join Us" Edward Jones or just plain stupid "Ask Chuck" ads appeal too. You know who I am talking about- the people who spend their lives obsessing over money, unable to enjoy today because they live in a state of terror over the thought that Tomorrow might not be all wine and roses.

Like this dog, they like having a nest egg, but that bundle of savings brings them no real pleasure- in fact, it keeps them up at night, tossing and turning, worrying that their "portfolio" isn't "working hard enough" to provide "long term financial security" and what TIA-CREF likes to call "guaranteed income" (quick tip: the words "guarantee" and "lie" are synonyms.)

Like this dog, they worship that bundle of savings. They cuddle it, they stroke it, they check it and recheck it and seem certain that if they let it out of their sight for more than a few hours at a time, it will disappear. Someday, someone will explain to me how this is preferable to having no savings at all.

Because sooner or later, real human beings understand that Money can't buy anything that is of any value. As Charles Foster Kane admitted to his financial mentor in the greatest movie ever made, he was always using money in the worst way imaginable- "to buy things." Sooner or later, most of us realize that The Beatles were right when they sang that Money can't buy you love, and the cliche about it not being valid currency when seeking to purchase happiness is also true.

Money can buy Things- Things that provide momentary pleasure and comfort, but ultimately do nothing but gather dust and crumble away. Money can buy some people- I know of at least one or two people who sold themselves cheap, trading the uncertainties of Independence for the mirage of Security. Money can buy stuff that fills rooms but can't take the place of what John Steinbeck called the Pearls of Great Price- the things that don't come with a tag.

Sometimes, money does allow for a great investment. It's almost unbelievable that a dollar and a quarter can put a bagel in a kid's hands and reward the buyer with a smile whose worth cannot be measured in coin. The look on the face of a kid getting an unexpected slice of cake on an otherwise dreary school day- how much is that worth in dirty green paper? But examples like this just demonstrate how pointless and ugly it is to lock money up in a safe, or hoard it in a thousand other ways.

Money will always cost more than it's worth. In this commercial, it costs the dog peace of mind. It brings misery and restlessness and maybe ulcers. The treasure weighing heavily on this dog's mind isn't working for the dog- the dog is suffering for IT.

Aren't enough of us already like this dog?

(I include with this entry a scene from one of my favorite films, "Meet John Doe," because it includes two awesome lines that more of us should really take to heart. One is "I know the world's been shaven by a drunken barber." The other is an explanation of what the Pursuit of Money does to people, starting with "before you know it, you'll have a bank account." Believe me, it's worth the time investment.)

I'm a WHAT, Honda??

Oh, this is really appropriate. I'm sure the good people in marketing at Honda were just a little too busy making this stupid, pointless nub of a commercial to notice that the song they decided to use is about a teen stalker who is in a mad rush to get to the house of the object of his obsession so he can watch her undress. No kidding. Check out the lyrics (no, I'm not providing a link- go find it yourself if you are really that interested. Pretty sick.)

I guess they were also too busy to look around and notice that it's not 1985 anymore, and nobody is driving to the Arcade to play cheap-graphic video games. Not even Hoodie Ninjas (seriously, what does that even mean?)

Is it too much to expect that as soon as someone taps an executive at Honda on the shoulder and explains to them how inappropriate the background music is, or how "Do Not Attempt" should not refer to this "ninja's" use of the featured car as a freaking TIME MACHINE, this ad will cease to exist? Bleh- of course it is. My guess is that nobody at Honda ever actually bothered to listen to the song beyond the "I'm a Hoodie Ninja" line, which a focus group of People Who Really Ought To Just Die Now decided was really cool and catchy. (Focus Groups do more damage to this country than Republican governors, I swear....)

So thank you, Honda, for making me ashamed of my chosen mode of travel. My Civic EX has given me eight years and 103,000 miles of excellent service- but now I feel associated with this ugly, clueless ad campaign. Believe it or not, I don't want to be a Hoodie Ninja, whatever the hell that is. I had planned to buy a new car next year, and just assumed it would be another Honda, but now I have to rethink the situation. Toyota hasn't irritated me for a while, and the last time I checked, it wasn't using disturbing, violent lyrics to sell it's product.

Worth a second look this time, in any case.

Monday, June 13, 2011

And only four died in the whiskey-induced, post-funeral brawl

During the Great Storm of 1781, John Jameson, your typical, average whisky-swilling Irishman, lost a barrel of his beloved hooch, which broke loose and fell into the raging sea.

Did I mention that John Jameson was Irish? 'Cause that's kind of important in understanding why he would proceed to commit suicide by diving into the storm-tossed ocean in an attempt to recover one of the roughly 10,000 barrels of fermented corn his ship was carrying.

I'm not even going to touch the "he said goodbye to his crew" line, which accompanies a scene in which John Jameson is giving an open-mouthed, passionate kiss to a decidedly feminine-looking crew mate. Bad writing? Bad editing? You make the call.

And now we've come to the LOL EPIC punchline. You see, all of Ireland- roughly one million potato-munching, famine-fleeing, pasty-skinned, red-haired, hot-tempered and above all Liquor-Obsessed cabbage junkies- turned out for John Jameson's funeral. As the legend goes, John Jameson himself appeared during the ceremony, crawling out of the sea with the wayward barrel of whiskey on one shoulder. Good times, we may assume, where had by all.

After all, these are Irish people. And now they have whiskey. What else could they possibly want- food? Land? That's what America is for!

I wonder how many posters who complained about my take on last year's racist (sorry, but that's what it was) State Farm ad will let me know that this commercial is in no way offensive to anyone with Irish ancestry (full disclosure: I'm one-fourth Irish myself, though I don't look it.) Maybe it's just poking fun at a beloved, cherished stereotype and I just need to let it go.

Or maybe it's time for advertisers to figure out that "Irish =Alcohol-Loving Idiots" is not really an appropriate way to sell us their product in the 21st century. After all, we haven't seen "Mama Mia thatsa Spicy Meatball!" in more than thirty years (and as someone who is also one-quarter Italian, I really appreciate that.)

By the way, why did this ad even bother with the octopus? Did they think that jumping into the ocean during a hurricane wasn't lethal-looking enough?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Buy this product, unless you really do hate your dog, you monster!

Wow, I bet all you dog owners never realized how you were TORTURING and ABUSING your little friends every time you put that leash on, did you?

Well, now you know why your dogs have always LOATHED the idea of taking a walk- I mean, has there ever been any harder task than trying to get Fido out of the house for a few minutes to partake in a little exercise with his clueless master? From all the encounters I've had from dog owners over the years, I've come to the conclusion that trying to get a dog to take a walk is like trying to get a teen-ager to part with her cellphone. Like pulling teeth.

Ok, I'm being facetious, of course. Actually, every dog I've ever met must be a big fan of having it's neck bones crushed by brutal, Medieval-style "choke chains," because they can't seem to get ENOUGH of walks with their owners. I've never heard a dog whine because it's wearing one of these collars- though I suspect that if you yank on that leash really hard, you WILL hurt your dog and you WILL be rewarded with this kind of plaintive, "what did I do?" appeal for mercy. I also suspect that if you are the kind of person who would actually do this to a dog, you have no business owning one, you disgusting brute.

So according to this commercial, the "answer" to a question nobody asked is a cheap-looking vest which allows you to control your dog by applying pressure to it's breastplate rather than it's neck. I have to admit, this actually makes perfect sense.

So I'm not actually criticizing the product here- just the Massive Guilt Trip used to sell it. I believe that this little vest device, if it's built properly and with quality materials (snicker), might actually be a nice thing to have (I suspect it lasts a lot longer with smaller dogs than larger ones.) But I don't believe that we've spent thousands of years unwittingly crushing the neck vertebrae of our four-legged friends every time we take them for a walk. And I don't appreciate the accusation that using regular collars basically makes dog owners the modern Spanish Inquisition.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Short, Sweet and Stupid

Four times a week, this woman tells us, she runs. Good for her. More people out there need to run- or at least walk. Move. Stop sitting so damned much.

I just came back from a week grading AP exams in Louisville, Kentucky. I estimate that 80 percent of that town's population is obese- slow, fat, sweaty, etc. I believe that the official Sport of Louisville is Waddling. At one of the three Bats games I attended at Slugger Field, I saw dozens of overweight slobs shoveling fried chicken and french fries into their faces and washing it all down with massive cups of soda or beer. It didn't matter that it was roughly 95 degrees out. It didn't matter that these people HAD to be terribly uncomfortable with their excess bulk. It was all about the food.

We graded exams for eight hours a day, for six straight days. Three times a day, we were given buffet-style meals (I was a good boy, I stuck to the Vegetarian options all week, still gained two pounds.) At mid-morning and mid-afternoon, we had a snack breaks- granola bars, fruit, chips, cookies, slices of, there were piles of candy sitting at our grading table "to keep our energy up." It would have been very easy to just eat, nonstop, all week. Fortunately I got bored with the food after the first day and nibbled most of the rest of the week, and got in a lot of walks along the beautiful waterfront.

Ok, enough about me and Louisville. Let's get back to this little nothing of an ad. This woman tells us that she runs. Four times a day. And she KNOWS she's supposed to drink water after her run- but she clearly doesn't know WHY, otherwise she would not make the really stupid, self-destructive mistake she makes after each run. You see, dummy, you are supposed to drink water because you've just gone through a process of dehydration- you've made your muscles work extra hard, and they need to recover.

What do you do instead? You get yourself a huge cup of ultra-dehydrating coffee, doused with sugar and fatty cream. So you are not satisfied simply negating a positive thing you've done for your body by putting back all the calories you just managed to burn. You insist on DAMAGING your body just when it is vulnerable.

And you do it with a stupid smile on your face. And a giggle. Brilliant.

Listen, lady- this is not advice I give to many people, but I'll give it to you: do yourself a big favor and cut out those daily runs. If they end with half a gallon of caffeine, sugar and fat, they simply aren't worth it. Just sit on your butt and drink water instead. Trust me- your heart will thank you. So, by the way, will your wallet.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Oh, I get it. I'm part of the problem!

Think oil company owners are greedy, avaricious bastards determined to rape every corner of the planet if it means stuffing even larger wads of cash into their already bloated off-shore accounts? Think that all their talk of "green technology" and "clean coal" (seriously. Clean Coal.) is just smoke and mirrors intended to distract the tree huggers while every last ounce of ancient black ooze is sucked out of the Earth's orifices? Think that the only thing that oil executives have in common with seagulls is that they would both steal a bagel from a baby (not an original joke, but I can't remember which comedian I heard it from?)

Well, it turns out that if you think any of the above, you are only damming yourself. Because if you have money in the bank, or drive a car, or basically do anything beyond breathe, you are the owner of an oil company. So stuff your righteous criticisms in a sack, buddy- you own an oil company, just like the guys who make hundreds of millions of dollars a year, zip around the world in private jets, and own multiple homes on every continent (ok, maybe not Antarctica, but you get what I mean.)

So stop picking on the poor oil executives, and stop bitching about what you mistakenly see as bloated profits reaped from price gouging and futures-fixing and government-purchasing and environment-destroying. Because you are only picking on yourself. Maybe you aren't sitting on a mountain of blood money, maybe you aren't directly contributing to the suffocation of the planet, but you are the owner of an oil company. So quit your bitching.

And call your Congressman, and tell him to get the government to stop asking you annoying questions about your finances, Mr Oil Company Owner- because gosh darn it, you've got enough problems without having the Hippies giving you a hassle.

Because you're an oil company owner, and don't you forget whose team you are on.

Jell-O Spreads the Hate

Unwilling to let Volkswagen, Sprint and Kraft Mac 'n Cheese corner the market in loathsomeness, Jell-O has inaugurated a series of Parents v. Kids commercials in which Mommy and Daddy terrorize their kids into keeping their hands off of the Made for Adults desserts.

In this version, Mom and Dad are perfectly willing to traumatize Son and Daughter with stories of "Choco-Beasts" instead of simply ASKING them to stop "stealing" their Jell-O. The kids, who will probably need years of therapy before they can ever sleep in a tent more than five feet from the house again, run terrified into the house, but it's all good because their parents get all the Chocolate Goo in a Cup to themselves.

All in good fun, because except for the soiled pajamas, fear of the dark and new-found distrust of their parents, no harm has been done to these kids.

Thanks, Jell-O!