Wednesday, May 30, 2012

It's that time of year again- I'm off to Louisville!

Regular readers of this blog- and those who know me personally- are already aware that every year I spend the first week of June in Louisville, Kentucky with 1200 other history teachers from all over the United States, grading Advanced Placement US History Exams within the spacious confines of the Kentucky Convention Center.

It's just about my favorite week of the year- a week I get to spend in a wonderful little city with great museums, hiking trails, and a AAA baseball team which for four straight days while I'm in town will be playing the Durham Bulls.  All this comes after 8 hours per day of grading essays, of course- but the factory whistle blows at 5 PM and then it's time to hit the town.   And when I'm ready to turn in, it's in a luxury hotel where they treat you like royalty.

Because I really, really like Louisville, I'm not going to trash this commercial too harshly.  It's kind of a cute take-off on those Viagra ads we all know and love so very much.  Louisville is so fun, with it's views of the Ohio River and the opportunity to eat dinner on a real Steamboat and the Muhammad Ali Cultural Center and the Louisville Bats Museum and an awesome fossil bed hidden right over the bridge in Indiana, you may experience "over excitement" and unfamiliar feelings of contentment and something that you used to recognize as "happiness."  In other words, being in Louisville is like having sex- I get it.  Like I said, I really enjoy my week in Louisville.  But this is overselling it just a tad.

I would like to point out one unintentionally funny part of this commercial, where the narrator suggests that potential visitors ask their doctors if their hearts are strong enough for Louisville.  Considering the staple foods I see at the convention center*-- biscuits with sausage gravy, fried chicken, chicken fried steak, etc.- this is actually a pretty good idea.  And considering that the average Louisville resident seems to be about fifty pounds overweight, it's advice not taken by the locals.

So that's as close as I'm going to come to knocking this wonderful little city.   The only reason I even used this ad for a blog post was to remind my regular readers that I'll be away for awhile, and I'm not sure if I'll be able to post until I return on June 8-- depends on the internet connection in the Computer Lab in the basement of the Convention Center.  I'll give it a shot, though.  If it doesn't work out, see you in a week!

*the first year I graded APs, I gained 4 lbs in six days.  For the past few years I've taken the Vegetarian option each meal which, along with a lot of walking and using the hotel gym, has really helped.   :>)

Monday, May 28, 2012

The best part is when Megan asks the phone out for a date

Well, these two are obviously meant for each other, aren't they?

The guy is sitting by himself (excuse me- not by himself, but with his best friend, a Nokia phone with all the bells and whistles phones simply MUST come with these days if they want to be purchased by twentysomething dickwads obsessed with technology.)  Pretty girl sits down beside him, and the guy's thought process kicks in- "Woah, Megan Alert."

Instead of acknowledging Megan right away, Dickwad naturally decides he'll "draw her in" by showing off his phone, starting with it's "curve."  What the hell- really?  Then he'll "casually" move on to video, so Megan can see that he's "got lots of friends."  I find this part especially funny- it's important that Megan know that even though this rude Dweeb is being a rude Dweeb with his phone, that doesn't mean that he isn't aware of this thing called Actual Human Friends.  Just in case Megan is the kind of woman who likes that in a guy.  It's strictly optional.

"Hey, what kind of phone is that?" asks Megan, and your reaction to the guy's "Oh, Megan, when did you get here?" probably depends on your age.  If you are over, say, 35, you probably think it's not very believable that the guy could pull off pretending to be so absorbed with his phone that he would not notice Pretty Megan sitting next to him, drooling over said phone.  If you are under 35, you probably think he'll get away with it, because you know plenty of techno-creeps who become so fixated by their stupid glowing devices that it's amazing they aren't run over by buses on a daily basis ( amazing, and a great pity, too.)   Since these people both look like they belong to the younger set, chances are he's not going to have any problem pulling off the "oh hey Megan, I was so busy watching myself white water rafting with some of my Many Cool Friends that I didn't notice you there."  Personally, I'd take this as a bit of an insult, and a window into the mind of this dope that reveals nothing good.  But if Megan is as With It as this guy is, it's entirely possible she sees this as just par for the course.

So all the best, Zombie Dweeb and Potential Carbon-Based Life Form Girlfriend.  Looking forward to seeing you in all my favorite restaurants, ostensibly on a date but actually just carrying out an agreement to be in the same place as you look at your phones.  Weirdos.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

100% Insulting Hot Dog Commercial

There's nothing funnier than a commercial narrated (and clearly written) by a woman which has the subject "Men: they are so Stupid and Weird, aren't they?"

In this one- I think it's # 467, 224 in the Dumb Men Being Dumb File- three intensely bored-looking guys are standing around a grill having a "conversation" about whether or not some Major League baseball player won the batting title in 1936 or 1938, or something (how many times do you want me to watch this crap?  Close enough!)  They aren't looking at each other or anything else in particular- just staring into space, as if they are just a little uncomfortable to be there, but not so uncomfortable that they are willing to sit down and spend time with Wifey and the Kids.  They sure don't look like they are having anything but a really lousy, pointless, sad, Suburban-ritual afternoon which drives them to do nothing short of re-evaluating their entire lives.

Sidebar:  I actually think that is what is going through the minds of these guys as they carry on their non-conversation concerning a baseball player who has been retired for seventy years:  Each one is conducting personal inventory, retracing his steps to discover how he got to this moment, where he's spending a perfectly nice Memorial Day standing around someone's backyard adding greasy hot dogs to his already expanding waistband, unable to come up with anything of even the slightest bit of substance to say, compelled to needle the Next Door Neighbor With Exactly The Same Life He Has with gradeschool-level teasing.  Remember that Memorial Day Weekend  when you and your girlfriend threw a cooler filled with wine and cheese and took off for the coast for 72 hours of sun, surf and sex?   If you can't, it's probably for the best.

Anyway, the tagline for this ad is something like "you can't understand men," and I suppose that if men were anything like the fat wax mannequins in Dad Clothes in this commercial, it would make perfect sense.  What is really confusing is the "100% happy" line which follows.  Do you see anyone being even 1% happy here?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Hey Dodge: Your Hypocrisy is Showing!

Dodge has produced and televised approximately 1200 commercials for its "Caravan" minivan model in the past three years.

1199 of those commercials have been disgustingly sugar-laden homages to breeding- the joys of having lots and lots of kids so you can justify spending forty grand or so on a freaking bus, complete with fold-out table, DVD and a sound system better than the one you've got in your actual house.  1199 commercials featuring grinning young idiots who seem thrilled to death that they've managed to produce smaller versions of themselves and are now in the process of sacrificing every waking moment to the needs of the noisy little terrors- needs which include vehicles which can seat all of them and, in the future, several of their equally messy and attention-sucking little friends.   1199 commercials devoted to convincing the viewing public that being a Normal American means popping out spawn and strapping them into a Suburban Blandmobile and taking them...well, wherever these people are always taking them.

1199 commercials telling us that the pinnacle of life is reached when you Settle- when one of you puts on a chunk of rock and changes her name, and the other sticks his pretty little trophy into a house with a fence and a yard and one of these things taking up most of the driveway. 

1199 commercials practically begging us to be Real Americans and get married, have kids, live in the suburbs and drive around in something that takes up two spaces and always seems to be featuring Finding Nemo on the screen in the back.

And one commercial which suggests, obliquely, that nawwwww you are actually better off not having kids, because they are noisy attention-vampires and all the other things I just bitterly ranted about for three paragraphs.    Hey Dodge, who do you think you're kidding?  Without people willing to produce children, you're out of business.  And did you really think we were going to forget about those other 1199 commercials?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Kit Kat: So little content, so much Hate

The ad agency hired to peddle Kit Kats doesn't think that words are necessary to describe the product.  And I find myself at a loss for words to describe how much I loathe these disgusting dollops of minimalism.

I think I'll just have to be satisfied with explaining how very, very much I'd like to see the people responsible for this noisy pile of Stupid coated with low-grade milk chocolate and buried up to their necks next to a nest of fire ants.   It's not so much that I hate the exaggerated ripping and snapping and crunching, not to mention the repulsive "MMMM" sounds.  What really bugs the hell out of me is that you just KNOW the people who "wrote" this swill think that they are Awesomely Clever and Immensely Proud of the final "product."

How do you know this?  Well, maybe it's because this is somewhere around the 40th version of the same commercial.  The only thing that changes is the setting and the faces of the people involved in this crime against the viewing public.

Oh, and I'd also like to ad that as Incredibly, Massively, Bag of Rocks Dumb this all is, it would at least be bearable if it wasn't showing up on my television during Every. Single. Commercial Break.  But it is.  Which means that the background noise I have on while I'm typing away at exams and papers in my den is forever being interrupted with Rip, Snap, Crunch and MMM MMM MMM.  As it is, I once again find myself really, really wanting to hurt someone.  Loudly.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What dad SHOULD have told you

Here's another car commercial which I guess is supposed to be a cute and cloying slice of life, but which leaves cold, cynical jerks like me inspired to type things which would NOT win kudos for the advertising team which was paid real money to write this dreck.

The cutesy is supposed to be delivered with the "clever" cutaways of Father and Son exhibiting the same nervous ticks and mannerisms as they drive their cars.  They both scratch the backs of their necks.  They both drink beverages as they drive.  They both tap their fingers against the steering wheel. Wow, it's like they are mentally linked, like E.T. and that stupid Eliot kid.  Except- who doesn't do all this stuff? 

"My dad told me to get a Subaru.  But I'm nothing like him."  Hey, calm down, buddy.  Advice from Dad doesn't normally mean that he's trying to treat you like a clone of himself.  This isn't exactly like the father in Dead Poet's Society obsessively insisting that his son become a doctor until that son finally kills himself.  Throttle down the angst, ok?  Nobody thinks that you are like your dad, even though you end up basically doing what he said, and even choosing the same color (which is supposed to be the visual punchline, but isn't.)

At the ad's conclusion we learn that, indeed, this guy is nothing like his father.  His father, after all, managed to purchase a substantial house in the suburbs with a huge driveway.  The son?  He still lives with his Dad.  Nope, they aren't alike at all.

Maybe Dad's advice to Son should have been "learn the bus and train schedules until you've earned enough money to buy a car AND pay rent in your own damned apartment."  That's what I would have told him.  But like I said at the beginning, I'm just a cold and cynical jerk, after all.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

"Brand New" being a very relative term here

Groan.  Where to start.

Ok, first off- hey TBS, guess what?  When comedy shows are actually, genuinely funny, we don't need to be served up the tagline "Very Funny" with every commercial for the Very Funny Comedy Show.  In fact, "Very Funny" sounds more like a desperate "no, really, you'll like this one, we promise, it's not like the others we said and continue to say are 'Very Funny.'  This time we mean it!"  We viewers are really good at deciding what is Very Funny and what isn't- which explains why TBS's ratings are consistently in the toilet, and why you don't hear much about the Very Funny Frank Caliendo show anymore.

In fact, if any of the tripe you shovel into your prime time slots were at All Funny, let alone Very Funny, they would have been picked up by one of the real networks- ABC, CBS, NBC or (sort of) FOX.   Don't believe me?  Well, check out all those comedies you run during the day.  See what they all have in common?  That's right- they are all major network comedies which have gone into Syndication.  (You didn't mean for us to think that you were responsible for Friends, Seinfeld or Family Guy, did you?)

Here's another tip- there's nothing new or funny or fresh about a comedy featuring four scruffy guys and their women issues.*  How on Earth anyone thinks that they can get away with rewarming the same old dreck and calling it new is just beyond me.  It's pretty obvious that TBS's "new" venture will include all the stale, rehashed Men Are Sex-Obsessed Pigs Who Have No Idea What 'Sensitivity Training' Means jokes we've seen a thousand times on a thousand other sitcoms, none of which qualifies as Very Funny, either.

I'll wrap this up with a few more Sledgehammers of Truth for you, TBS.  Conan O'Brien is not funny.  George Lopez is pretty much the opposite of funny.  And "comedies" featuring sassy black kids and their sassy black mothers and their clueless, bumbling black fathers have never been funny.  EVER.

I'm sorry I had to break the news to you, and maybe I was a bit abrupt, but consider this intervention an act of love.  By someone who really hates your crappy, rerun-dependent channel.

*who mysteriously manage to meet and date gorgeous, 100 percent available models working as waitresses, secretaries etc. every. Single. Week.  Because every sitcom is a peek into the fantasy world of male "comedy" writers. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

It's like Corona has a camera in my house!

This happens to me so often, I'm almost tempted to join one of those PeaPod programs and just have my groceries delivered to my door.

I mean, pretty much every time I go to the store, I'm stalked by gorgeous women who are irresistibly attracted to me- or, at least, attracted to that case of Corona I'm carrying around under my arm.  Naw, I'm sure it's me.

Of course, they may just be curious to know why I've decided to pick up the case of beer before moving on to the produce section; doesn't seem to make much sense to carry that case around with me when I'm still shopping, unless I expect a rush of beer drinkers with bad taste to strip the store of it's supply of Corona while I'm looking for Just the Right Melon.  Naw, I'm sure it's me.

Anyway, while I always walk into a store alone, I never, ever walk out that way.  Nope- every single time I run to the store for beer, I end up coming home with a leggy, hot brunette eager to use her Passport to join me on whatever trip I've won this month from Corona.  Almost makes the fact that I have to drink Corona worth it.   Almost.

The thing is, I didn't know that this was a common enough experience to use in an actual commercial.  I know that being stalked by hot girls in grocery stores who say "hi" to me as if they are delighted to meet me and my beer (Naw, I'm sure it's just me, and the beer is strictly incidental) as I'm walking out is an everyday occurrence in MY life, but I thought it was because I'm exceptionally hot, not to mention an awesome listener with a great sense of humor.  Not everyone fits that description.  So what's the deal?

Corona just decided one day to take a routine episode of my life and turn it into a commercial?  Without even asking me first?  Well, that's fine I guess- I'd just hate to see Lesser Guys get their hopes up and rush out to the store, thinking this might happen to them.  Because after all, They are not Me.

It's the end of the economy as we know it

Yes, this is EXACTLY what our debt-ridden, impulse-buying society needs: A way to use our credit card to buy ANYTHING, ANY TIME we want to.

Remember back in the old days (also known as "yesterday") when you actually needed money to buy stuff?  When you realized you hadn't brought enough cash with you, so you put off buying that soda you didn't really need anyway?  Or when you saved up that fifty bucks you owed a friend by skimping on movies and meals for a while?

Remember when you told your friend that hey, sorry, I don't have that fifty bucks right now, but catch me next payday, ok?

Well, those days are gone forever.  Next time you pull that "hey, I'm short of cash at the moment" BS, your "friend" will pull out his phone, insert a little box into the headphone jack, and demand that you pull out your credit or debit card.  No kidding.  As this dopey woman tells us (when she isn't lunging at the camera- really, what the hell is that all about?) this box thing "makes us all merchants."  Oh joy.

A few questions- first, where is all the wonderful information concerning the transactions made with this device stored?  Can I assume that a copy is available to the IRS, which will eventually come knocking to ask why I didn't pay tax on that $1 can of soda I bought from a "friend?"  Second, how hard is it for someone to intercept these transactions and collect credit card numbers through them?

Finally- how FUCKING STUPID ARE WE ANYWAY???  Do we REALLY need another gizmo which encourages us to spend money we don't have simply because it's EASY?   Exactly HOW MANY TIMES do we have to blow up the economy before we figure out that what we really need is a device that encourages us to SAVE  (but really, where's the money in that?)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I understand the temptation, but I'm in horror at the idea of people actually trying this

When I was 14, I got braces.  Back then, they seemed to come with the territory- you went to High School, you got your driver's permit, and you spent an afternoon in the chair of an overpaid sadist who took his sweet time attaching pieces of barbed wire to your teeth.  Barbed wire which broke into razor-sharp shards on occasion.  Shards which would hook on to your tongue and the side of your mouth.  Usually on Friday afternoons, so you'd have to wait more than two days to go in for what was euphemistically called an "adjustment."

When the braces worked "well," you just had the constant pain and the hassle of rubber bands which took forever to get on, but seemed to break within moments after being set in place.  You learned how to smile so the railroad tracks running across your teeth didn't show (not that you smiled very often, anyway.)  And you dreamed of the day when the damned things, which surely were popularized during the Spanish Inquisition, would finally be removed from your teeth.  For me, that day was almost four years after they were put on, and about a year before I left for college.  I can still remember rubbing my tongue along my teeth, and what a simple pleasure that was. 

I hated having braces (I've never met anyone who enjoyed the experience, and I'm sure I don't want to.)  But even when I was a kid, I understood that they were a necessary evil for me, and that Good Things come to those who wait.  Which is what really creeps me out about this commercial.  Braces have been part of the popular culture for quite some time; there's nothing mysterious about them or what they do.  So why would ANYONE believe that gaps between teeth is something that can be "fixed" with the application of a few tight rubber bands?

Is it the "well, it makes sense so it must be true" theory?  I mean, I get the concept- your teeth are too far apart.  So just apply a small band between two teeth, and over time the gap will be closed as the teeth are inexorably drawn together.  So simple, so easy to understand.

Except-- please.  Your teeth are resting on gums which are not made out of spongy pudding.   I know that pressure applied over YEARS will draw teeth together, because I lived it.  Two weeks?  Jeesh, why not claim it only takes two hours, so the image of blood flying from crushed gums as the teeth are forced together can be included in the cool graphics?

And I love the "OraBands come in two sizes" line- wow, two sizes, they MUST work.  Because teeth and gums and mouths only come in two sizes, right? 

It's one thing to get conned into believing that you can save money growing your own bananas or fixing your own flat tires- is anyone really going to risk their health and their looks because they think that thousands of dollars in oral surgery can be replaced by two $20 rubber bands?  I mean, they don't even come with Miracle Sunglasses or that stuff that removes the gunk from your headlights.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Just another day for Stepford Mom

Here's another "women exist to pop out kids, raise those kids, keep the house clean, and put dinner on the table for hubby" commercials we are subjected to pretty much every day of the year.  The frequency just seems to intensify around Mother's Day.   That's the day set aside to give Hubby an opportunity to thank Mommy for providing thousands of dollars in sex, child care and catering services by handing her a trinket and hoping she keeps on doing what she's doing- trading in any chance of a life of her own for the white picket fence, the big house and Hubby's last name.

The extra conceit in the "SuperMom" meme is that doing all this stuff in our mad world of traffic backups, supermarkets and SUVs requires some kind of extraordinary talent women should be lauded for demonstrating on a day to day basis.  Yeah, sure- you ladies are all modern Joan D'Arcs, martyred in the service of your husband and your kids.  You could be doing So Much More if you had taken another path, and we should be grateful you made the "sacrifice."  "We" being your husband and your kids, of course.  Because the rest of us- well, frankly, we just want you to stop digging for coupons and letting your idiot spawn f--k around with the scanner at the grocery store. 

Oh, and it would be nice if you could squeeze that monstrosity on wheels which you "need" now that you've "sacrificed" and successfully incubated a few offspring into ONE parking space instead of straddling two or three.  Only if it's not too inconvenient, of course- I don't want to get in the way of your Superhero-level agenda.

Every time I see one of these grinning idiots I just have to shake my head and wonder what the attraction is.  The guy found out what her price was, and paid it.  The girl sold herself cheap.  The kids came along for the ride.  The package included a minivan, a lot of diapers, a vacation here and there, and a few baubles that say "thanks for playing."

What I don't get is this: Who are these ads supposed to appeal to?  Pea-brained girls who are afraid of the Big Bad World and want nothing more than the shelter of a house provided by Somebody Else and to change their last names?  Guys who want to know what Middle Class Conformity Complete With Perpetually Delighted Wife and 2.5 children is going for these days?   Because it seems to me the tagline should simply be "Assimilate, Consume, Reproduce."  Is that all there is?

Oh yeah, and "here's a piece of rock.  That ought to shut you up until next holiday, SuperMommy."

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Ford presents Overcompensation 101, the Suburban Poser Edition

Hey, look- it's another gang of Incredibly Masculine Men standing around a fricking mountain of a truck, trying to explain to us why they "need" a monstrosity like this, and ignoring the fact that pretty much no one else on the planet actually uses any vehicle to do one-tenth the stuff these guys seem to do on a regular basis.

For one thing, these manly men really love the chrome.  And the rims.  What any of this has to do with the utility of what looks like a six-ton monster with wheels (unless these guys are each four feet tall, MAN this thing is blatantly huge!) we aren't told.  I guess the message here is "ok, first the soft sell- this is why the truck will look great in your driveway.")

But the Men aren't ready to regale us with stories of constant heavy lifting, despite the fact that they were introduced as guys who "aren't afraid of hard work" (seriously, f-- you, Mr. Hooked-Thumbs Truck Pimp.)  Instead they continue with the soft sell, showing us the rear view camera (one of them says he wants the camera for "the next time my wife swears at me."  Later, another guy giggles that he saw his two friends "on the rear view camera" as they did something or another near the back of the truck.  I really don't want to know.)  The "Eco-Boost" (are we sure it's not "Ego Boost") technology is a big selling point, and no, I don't have the slightest idea why.  The voice-activated phone and music system scores big time with these guys, too. I'm still waiting for the "hard work" to get started, because I'm twenty seconds in and all I've learned so far is that this thing is shiny and has all the electronics of an Audi, which is another car I don't need to go heavily into debt for so I can show well for the neighbors.

Then we get "this thing tows my boat much better than my Silverado," which really gets the hate rising nicely.  Hey, that's awesome news, guy.  Really happy for you.  Still waiting for evidence that you guys "aren't afraid of hard work," unless we are supposed to buy that owning a f---ing boat is "hard work."

FINALLY, we get scenes of cement and appliances and all kinds of other Big, Heavy Things that Real Men spend their lives tossing into the backs of Big Rugged Trucks like this Ford F-150.  'Cause remember, these guys aren't afraid of Hard Work.  Especially when they can do it in a car with soft heated seats and more electronic bells and whistles than the freaking space shuttle.

In a slightly longer version of this ad, one of the guy wraps by saying "I get a lot of street cred with this sitting in my driveway."  I'm not kidding.  "Street Cred."  Because nothing yells "Credibility" louder than parking a truck which is larger than my apartment (and has a better sound system) in some lily white upper middle class neighborhood.   I'm irritated that I couldn't find that slightly longer version, because that was my favorite part of the commercial ("favorite part" meaning "part which really made me want to punch the speaker in the face.")  But I can't spend all day looking for the full version, after all- it's the weekend, which means that when I'm not grilling up 24-ounce steaks, guzzling the correct Light Beer and pumping Round Up on to the weeds sticking out of my cracked driveway, I'm tossing big bags of Something Dirty into the back of my pickup.  Stopping to hook my thumbs to my belt now and then, of course.   I've got things to do, you know.

(Of course, shaving isn't one of them.  I'm a suburban American male, after all.)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Maybe LifeLock would make more money just selling shredders?

I actually really like this commercial on several levels.  I like the way the guy sauntering into the bank to begin his master plan of breaking into someone else's account and stripping it of money can't decide whether he looks more threatening with his hoodie on or off.  I like the way the guard thinks he looks suspicious, but the thief is menacingly dismissive as he walks across the floor of a place which resembles no bank I've ever been in to pull off his Masterpiece of Crime  (I think the building is supposed to remind us of the US Treasury, or Fort Knox, or something.  It looks like Hollywood's version of a bank, circa 1940.)

And I love the little robot that comes swooping down to foil the Bad Guy's Evil Intentions.*  It comes complete with a rotating red light and the magical ability to bring down a set of iron bars to prevent the clueless teller from handing Bad Guy your hard-earned money.  If LifeLock actually provided a cool Super Hero Robot like that, I think I might ignore the fact that the founder of this "service" has had his own identity stolen several times and that LifeLock itself has been the target of multiple complaints and lawsuits.  Or maybe not.

And I really love that in another version of this ad, new subscribers are offered, free of charge, a shredding machine (retail value $29.95) with their paid membership.  Why do I love that?  Because for 99.99% of us, the shredding machine is pretty much all we'd ever need to protect our identities, which are most commonly stolen by dumpster divers who take advantage of people too stupid or lazy to tear up credit card offers and other sensitive material the idiots at VISA and AMEX insist on sending us through snail mail.  So we sign up for LifeLock, AND use our shredding machine, and like magic our identities longer stolen. Something like that.

So while I really do like this ad, Mr. LifeLock CEO, I'm not going to be signing up for your service for two reasons.  First, I don't have any money for a thief to steal.  Second, you don't offer that little robot with a paid subscription.  Just a paper shredder I can buy at any Staples without signing up for your phony "protection."  When you are ready to throw in the robot, get back to me.  Because seriously, he really does look pretty cool.

*Especially the way it taps its foot at Bad Guy.  I mean, how adorable is that?

Friday, May 11, 2012

And the highlight of the evening was...Taco Bell?

Except for the fact that this guy comes home alone, it seems like he's just wrapped up a very successful Saturday night.

He went to what I assume was an awesome concert featuring his favorite band, "Stab Hauler."  Is this a real band?  Wouldn't surprise me in the slightest.  The concert was such a wild time, his sunglasses were broken- and the fact that they were broken is just testimony to how great the evening was.  He got some girl to slip into one of those do-it-yourself photo booths with him and got a strip of pictures featuring- himself.  Seriously.  You can't even see the girl's face.   Oh well.

And to top it all off, at some point he hit Taco Bell and downed some junk which came with extra sauce, a pouch of which he brought home.  The fact that this stuff goes on to the table with the ticket stub and the glasses and the photos, and not in the trash can, suggests that the Taco Bell Drive Thru was an equally exciting part of the whole experience, to be remembered at least as much as the music of Stab Hauler and the incident which got his glasses broken and that girl whose back we can see in the photos. 

Personally, I think this commercial would have made a lot more sense if the last thing he took out of his pocket was an empty condom wrapper, but that's just me.  Maybe he's smiling because he's reminded that he didn't use this sauce and therefore can at least hold out the possibility of a full night's sleep which is not interrupted by a painful, agonizing heartburn.   Or maybe he really thinks that the Taco Bell visit was the highlight of the evening.  Which would at least explain why he's come back to his apartment alone, and why we don't get to see that girl's face.

"Stab Hauler?"  Really?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Yeah, but will they buy my Tandy 1000 TX?

Ever been to a pawn shop?  There are quite a few of them within a few miles of where I live.  When I'm in a certain mood, I like to look at the stuff in the display window.  Sometimes I even go inside and check out the multitude of wristwatches, diamond rings, and guitars.  Lots and lots of guitars.  

Pawn shops are the warehouses where broken dreams are stored away, waiting for someone to walk in and claim them.  They are the inventory of every wrong turn, every stroke of bad luck, every financial slip and fall.  Every single thing in a pawn shop- the Bose radios, the leather jackets, the Saxophones- was once a treasured possession of a person with high hopes which could not survive the harsh reality of What Is.  There is a story in every dust-collecting music box, armchair and coin collection.   A sad story.

Well, it's 2012, and the pawn shop- the center of more than one Dickens or Horatio Alger story- has come to television.  Check out this Even More Obnoxious than Usual pitchman, encouraging people to sell their used cell phones, promising big bucks for plastic junk that can be found in a hundred different places, including every mall and every other street corner in the United States.  This guy is actually trying to convince the audience that their disposable, Out of Date Before You Got It Out of the Box trash is somehow transformed into something truly desirable if you just use the service he's offering to sell it.   Thought nobody wanted that 2009 Nokia?  Were about to toss it in the recycle bin, or maybe donate it?  Boy are you lucky you saw this ad- you had no idea that someone out there was willing to pay Real Money for your ancient, Can't Even Stream Video, Lame 2-D Screen phone, did you?

What a joke.  This reminds of nothing more than those Cash for Gold ads-- you know, the ones that promise you rent money in exchange for your memories, as long as those memories can be sent it a prepaid envelope and come in the form of broken old necklaces and engagement rings.   Are old cell phones the new Gold?  Really?  Then how come I find pieces of them scattered along sidewalks everywhere I walk?

I wonder if this guy would be interested in my 1985 Sony Walkman.  It comes with a tape player, and the batteries last almost two hours if you restrict usage to the AM-FM radio.   It doesn't even hold a lot of sentimental value for me.   I'd add "just like a cell phone," but I've seen people with their phones, and the emotional attachment is pretty obvious.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Hallmark, Mother's Day, and the Sledgehammer of Guilt are upon us

In a few days it will be Mother's Day, the Mother of all the Guilt Trip "Holidays" Hallmark, Kay Jewelers and countless other bloodless corporations like to toss at us every few months.   Which means it's time to reach into our wallets and pay through the nose for Teddy Bears, Chocolate Roses, and all the other pointless, showy junk that somehow is supposed to send the message "I Love You" to the women who brought us screaming into this world.  Not for bringing us into this world, mind you- because performing that service wasn't doing us any favors.  It's for all the stuff she's done for us since. 

Time to remember all those things Mom Didn't Have To Do For Us, but Did Anyway, without Any Thought of Reward.  Stuff like feeding us and bandaging our scraped knees and rubbing Vicks on our chests and keeping Kraft Mac' n Cheese far, far away from the dinner table.   Because we don't usually remember these things until we are reminded by Mother's Day commercials.  Because we are jerks and need not-so-gentle nudges from the Commercial Fairy, and aren't we fortunate she exists to let us know when it's time to spend again?

Anyway, this especially treacly, manipulative dollop from Hallmark tells us that all our mothers really want is to be told that they are important.  Or that they are "doing this right."  Or that they are in our thoughts.  Or that they are beautiful.  Or that we still remember that they exist, at least on the second Sunday in May, promise.  And how do we carry out this For Some Reason Very Important task?  Well, as far as Hallmark is concerned, it's by dropping in to the nearest drug store and grabbing a One Size Fits All card off the shelf and mailing it to her.  Be assured that she'll treasure it forever- or at least, until garbage day.

Because really, there's nothing warmer than a piece of paper upon which is typed a poem, or pithy saying, written by someone who has never met your Mom and never will.  You can make it extra personal by signing your name to the bottom of it.   Does the post office still sell those "LOVE" stamps, because that would be the icing on the cake, wouldn't it?

As usual, I'm going to be 540 miles away from my mom on Mother's Day.   I'm not going to be sending her a Teddy Bear (because she's not five years old) or a bouquet of roses, real or plastic or chocolate.  I'm not even going to be sending her an Approved By Committee Hallmark card.  I'll just give her a call, like I do pretty much every weekend anyway.  Sorry that doesn't add a whole lot to the economy, but I wasn't raised by someone who sees spending money as evidence of love.   I guess I'm just lucky that way, and I chose my mom very wisely.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

What she got with that MRS Degree

Many, many springs ago- seems  like a thousand, but it was probably only around ten- the Mother Bear in these ads was curled up in a corner with an AP US History book pressed up against her knees.  She was taking probably her fifth or sixth practice test, or maybe she was scratching out yet another essay to hand to her teacher for review.   She was worried that she couldn't seem to get more than 55 out of 80 Multiple-Choice Questions right,  but at the same time she was proud that her essay grade average had improved considerably since the first semester, the previous September.

Of course, her principle goal was to simply PASS her very first Advanced Placement exam (at her school, tenth graders took the US History Test, 11th graders took European History.)  Beyond that, she knew that the college she hoped to attend only accepted 4s and 5s for credit-- if she merely passed with a 3, that would be quite an achievement for such a young bear, but not enough to allow her to avoid Freshman History at the local University.  Her teacher assured her that college history could be a fun and wonderfully educational experience and that she should view the Advanced Placement Test as a way to sharpen essay-writing and test-taking skills and not worry about her grade, and she understood this; still, she really wanted to get that 4.  Or maybe even a 5, wouldn't that be amazing?!

The May morning which saw this bear take the exam has come and gone, and was followed by other springs spent sitting on floors with prep books and other May mornings filling out ovals and scribbling out essays.  Each exam came with it's own little package of anxiety, excitement, and relief.   Chances are, the actual scores soon faded into memory,  and in a short while the whole exercise was filed away with all the other experiences that make up a Young Bear's life, to be remembered in fuzzy blurs, or not at all.

And on this May morning, which seems like a thousand years later but is probably only around ten, that not-as-young-as-she-used-to-be bear is acting as Inspector of her Son's Butt, making sure there aren't any pieces of bathroom tissue he missed when he wiped himself.  If he did a good job, maybe he'll get a medal (he's got one on a few of the package labels, I kid you not.  It reads "No. 1," which makes ZERO sense when you remember how he earned it.)

I wonder if this Mommy Bear ever experiences moments of introspection.  For her sake, I kind of hope not.  Because it would be cruel for her to spend any time thinking back to those spring days with her AP prep books, those extra nights of studying, that last evening of butterflies before the test, as she checks her son's ass for tissue bits for the fourth or fifth time on THIS spring day.   When Daddy Bear comes home from the office after a hard day of work, he doesn't need to be met by a Mommy Bear quietly weeping in her favorite chair as Son watches his favorite video, his reward for getting all the paper off.   He just wants his dinner, and some gratitude for his willingness to provide All This.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

"Loco" referring to the condition you'd have to be in to enjoy this crap

I'll admit that I really wanted to snark on the new Taco Bell Locos Doritos Greasy Meat and Cheese Not-Sandwich commercial in which half a dozen disgusting losers tweet their homages to this disgusting non-food, but I couldn't find it.  I'm sure it will show up on YouTube eventually, be proclaimed as Epic by the drooling children who post there, and then it will be good times all around.   But until then, I'll just have to be satisfied to point out a few really stupid moments in this minimalist attempt to get us excited about Taco Bell's latest effort to convince us that there's something attractive about fatty, oily hamburger meat mixed with onions and spices and served on a large snack chip.

Fat doofus sits on a park bench and pulls a tiny bag of Doritos out of a slightly larger plastic grocery bag which contains nothing else.  This means that when jerkwad put down his dollar to buy eight cents worth of preservatives, salt and artificial flavoring, he insisted on having it bagged- so he could have two future landfill contributions to chuck after he finished eating his 11 Doritos, I guess.   So he's not satisfied with polluting his body with this junk; he has to punish the environment too.  The next time I see a plastic bag wrapped around a tree limb or wafting through the evening air, I'll think of this stupid, thoughtless dick.

When he opens the Doritos bag, it stuns him with a weird glowing light and the sound of angelic music, like the freaking Holy Grail (or at least a Wonka Golden Ticket) is to be found inside.  And THEN it gets REALLY stupid, because a hand comes out of the bag holding about three ounces of ground cow held together by grease and a cheese-infused crunchy thing that really only tastes good if you are drunk or high. (I've heard this from people; no first-hand experience, mind you...)

Anyway, the result of all this Dumb is that Overweight Slob has found a new way to subtract years from his life in the form of a Taco Bell Loco Dorito Insert Any Additional Faux-Spanish You Like Here Dollar Menu Crud Special.  The look of contentment on his face at the ad's conclusion would be priceless, if it wasn't so depressing.

Not as depressing as the Pretty Young People tweeting how gosh darned epic Taco Bell's latest Obesity Promoter is.   But I'll be getting to that one eventually, promise.

Friday, May 4, 2012

I guess this is preferable to "Brains, Brains, Brains..."

This used to be such a pretty song.  For those of you who don't remember, it's about a lovesick young man suffering the torture of unrequited love.  In the real world- cruel, harsh, intensely unfair- he can't be with the woman of his dreams.  But in his daydreams, he can hold her and tell her that he loves her, and he can imagine that she is holding him and returning that love.  Sweet, and Universal.

Ah, but this is the 21st century, and there's electronic crap to sell.  So now the song is sung by glassy-eyed zombies staring at their portable televisions---errr, "streaming devices."  Which device is being sold here?  Well, do we even care anymore?  And if so, why?

What a drugged-up culture we've created here.  A culture in which happiness is being able to download any video you want, any time you want to.  And watch it anywhere and everywhere.  And when you are done, watch something else.  Ad nauseum.

That would all be bad enough, but do we have to trash perfectly good classic songs in order to celebrate our addiction to electronic eye candy and a lifestyle that worships moving as little as possible?  Is this really all there is to life- "Stream, Stream, Stream?"  I mean, it's not like television and movies have gotten more worthy of our attention over the years.

But, who am I kidding?  In a society which is becoming increasingly Disconnected in the name of Connectivity, expressing undying love for the electronic device which never criticizes you, never talks back, and exists to pour junk into your brain is just par for the course.  I'm the outsider here, and I know it.  Not going to stop me from commenting on the carnage I see scattered all over the landscape,  though.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Geico Jumps into the Racism Pool

Look, I'm not the kind of person who screams "Racism" every five minutes, or walks around with a massive chip on his shoulder and blood in his eye, waiting to take offense at everything and anything, just looking for a excuse to feel slighted so I can spout off at some imagined insult.

But every once in a while, Racism just reaches out and slaps me across the face.  In more than 700 posts in the past three years, I've commented on it maybe four or five times.  It always draws a crowd to this site, and stirs an argument- my post on State Farm's "Perfect Girlfriend/Perfect Boyfriend" commercial has drawn more than 8500 hits and 37 responses to date.  I'm not trying to stir anything up here, but damn it, I have to call them the way I see them.

There are several of these stupid Geico "taste test" ads out there nowadays.  In one, a pregnant woman happily consumes an unknown, unidentified liquid handed to her by an anonymous dullard in the middle of a mall (this one really astounds me- would  a pregnant woman really do this?  Without even asking the ingredients of the strange liquid? Really?)

But this particular episode in Geico's latest ad campaign really annoys me. Someone please explain to me why the black guy is transformed from a perfectly articulate, sensible-sounding consumer into a dribbling idiot incapable of expressing his distaste for the "Brand X insurance" by using a vocabulary he demonstrated moments before drinking whatever mystery liquid he was offered.  Someone tell me that while the willing dupes in every other ad maintained the power of speech after being told that Geico was the better bargain, this guy can only manage to coo some stupid, juvenile noise- what the hell is this, anyway?

I'll tell you what it is.  It's Fail on an Epic scale.   The black guy can't speak after drinking the "wrong insurance" because it's "funny" to see "those" people acting like clowns for our entertainment.  If this commercial went on another minute, I think we might see this guy break into a tap dance.  Maybe juggle. Because "they" are so silly AND musical, you know.

Come on, Geico.   I didn't think it was possible for you to sink lower than Cavemen, stupid talking lizards, or stacks of bills with eyes glued to them.  Actually, I didn't imagine you'd even try.  But you manage to pull it off with this commercial, which just makes me cringe and lunge for the remote whenever it comes on.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Maybe this guy's wife should be introduced to the "personal assistant?"

Ugh, can you believe this crap?  Entitled White Jerk with his tricked-out upscale suburban LookAtMeMobile suddenly realizes- thanks to snarky little offspring in the back seat- that he forgot his wedding anniversary.   He learns it because Daddy's Little Eavesdropper overheard Mommy say that he was going to be "sleeping in the doghouse tonight."

Time out.  Did this kid really overhear his Mom say something like that to a neighbor, or a friend on the phone?  Or did she actually tell her Son that Daddy is a thoughtless, heartless, forgetful prick and he won't be sharing a bed with Mommy tonight?  Because if it's the latter, this family really has issues that a romantic dinner at a ritzy restaurant is not going to fix.

Back to the commercial.   Ok, now, this could happen to anyone.  What this would normally result in is some hurt feelings, maybe an argument, a realization that it's the marriage and the life these three people share that's really important and not the willingness to spend a wad of cash commemorating the day that the ceremony takes place every single year.  That's if this is a real family and if this kid's parents are actual adults....

Daddy assumes that he and his wife are not actual adults, because he pushes a button and contacts his "Personal Assistant."  He informs the disembodied voice that "I forgot my anniversary, can I get reservations at (Insert inaudible name of pretentious fern restaurant here?)"

Second time out.  Why does this guy feel the need to A) tell the disembodied voice that he forgot his anniversary?  Why is that information necessary?  and B) tell his SON IN THE BACK SEAT, who has already been proven adept at passing on information delivered to him by one of his non-adult parents, that Daddy forgot the anniversary?

Back to the commercial.  The "Personal Assistant," who I'm sure once had dreams of having a job that didn't include catering to the upscale pigs who will be first in line for the guillotine when the Revolution finally gets it's act together, quickly cheerfully and chirpily Makes Everything Better in four seconds flat by making the reservation that Dumbass Daddy couldn't manage to handle on his own despite the fact that the f--ing day falls on the same f---ing date every f---ing year.

I can only imagine that the "Personal Assistant" will now find Just the Right Trinket for Daddy to hand off to Mommy halfway through dessert at the Restaurant Daddy Failed to Make Reservations At.  Maybe Daddy will at least refrain from checking the scores on his cell phone during the Lovely Evening He Didn't Set Up.

Personally, I don't think Daddy should be able to get away with this just because he's got the dough to afford this level of technology.   I really hope the little moppet in the backseat spills the beans the moment they get home.  Better yet- I hope the "Personal Assistant" gives Mommy a call and "innocently" lets her know how "glad" she was to be able to help save Daddy's worthless ass from the wrath of Mommy.  Wish I could be there when THAT went down.