Friday, May 31, 2013

For the sixth year in a row- I'm off to Louisville!

Louisville also offers an Unbridled opportunity for 1200 Unbridled Advanced Placement history teachers to get together and engage in the Unbridled grading of roughly 1.2 million exceptionally Unbridled exams.

Maybe Louisville's motto should be "Louisville: Sans Bridles."

Anyway, it's that time of the year again, and for the first week of June I'll be busy grading exams, walking along the amazing waterfront, checking out the really cool fossils along the Ohio River on the Indiana side, and attending four Bats baseball games.  As usual, I don't know if I'll be able to post from the Computer Lab or not- the last four years it's worked ok, as long as I've stored a few commentaries in advance, but just in case I can't access the site while I'm there, this is just a head's up explaining why I'm suddenly not around.

Also, since I am going to be grading from 8 AM to 5:30 PM for six straight days, I might not like the idea of sitting down in front of a computer to post commercial insights- as I've said, there are a lot of things to do in Louisville which do not involve being in a dark basement computer lab.  

And if I CAN continue to post (and choose to do so)- well, I don't mind giving a salute to one of my favorite little cities in the world once a year.  If you've never been to Louisville, I really do recommend it.  It's just a fun, friendly place with a small-town atmosphere and big city amenities.  And I guess it's Unbridled, which is also a plus.  I suppose.

Maybe the Kentucky Board of Tourism should hire me to write these things.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Progressive's Punted Plot Point

Wow, Jessika sure hates talking about exercise and weight loss, doesn't she?

Wait, this commercial ISN'T about weight loss?  It's about Progressive and it's continuing Let Us Spy On You device?  What the hell was the first five seconds about then?

I mean, we see Jessica's friend eagerly telling her about how good she feels about exercise- she just hasn't lost any weight yet.  Well, that's fine.  Exercise is only part of the equation, after all.  But it's an important part, and while I can understand why Jessica might not find this a particularly interesting topic of conversation, her inability to grasp what her friend is saying comes off more like "shut up" than "I don't know what you mean."

The rude brush-off results in Jessica throwing herself on to her friend's car- seriously, the first time I saw this, I looked to see if Jessica had a huge butcher knife in her hand.  Wow, great lesson learned here- if your friend wants to talk about her weight loss, pretend that you aren't interested- and then try to kill her.

Then, we are in another commercial- this one for car insurance.  The narrator tells us that Jessica is a "rate sucker."  Why?  What did Jessica do to suggest that she's a bad driver?  Show a lack of interest in someone's self-centered babbling?  How does this make her a bad driver?  If failing to pretend to show interest in someone else's This Is All About Me rant makes one a bad driver, I'd have been cancelled by every insurance company in the country long before now.

Seriously, what the hell is going on here?  What does the first five second of this ad have to do with the last ten?  Anybody?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

All is forgiven if Ally empties the company's bank account and vanishes after this phone call

It was around the 150th viewing of this obnoxious crud (which means, around the sixth inning of the Orioles-Jays game) when it suddenly hit me:  Verizon and Blackberry want us to empathize with the Realty Company boss who is being annoyed by a lackey while she is trying to recharge her batteries over a multi-week vacation.  Needless to say, they fail miserably.

First, Ms Bossperson is shown with some uber-pretentious, spa-approved cooling pad on her forehead.  No, I don't know what it is or what it's actually called and no, I don't really give a damn.  I probably don't know what it is because I've never spent weeks of vacation at an f---ing spa.

Second, she's communicating with her Still On The Job Making Money for Ms Bossperson lickpittle on some Stupid Pointless Nobody Asked For Or Really Wants This videophone.  Why?  All she had to do was not answer the phone.  If she absolutely felt the need to answer the phone, she could have just not activated the video option.  Instead, poor Totally Put Out Bosslady lets her Lucky If She Gets The Day After Giving Birth Off toady go through this idiot "update" on some property I suppose the Very Important Company is interested in buying or selling or WHAT THE FUCK-EVER I DON'T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT WATCHING THESE MONEY OBSESSED DICKWADS before telling her "yeah, that's awesome you are working, but my marathon vacation is still on, so stop caring about my company until I decide to come back, ok?"

Third- toady at the office is perky and bright and super-enthusiastic about this deal which, if successful, could make her vacationing boss a buttload of money....but boss is all whatever, that's nice, my stock options last month equaled your salary for the past five years desk jockey, I've got another week of vacation and I'm going to keep spending it acting like sleeping in and lounging around the hotel pool is really wearing me out, you know being on vacation is really in many ways more exhausting than going to work, tee hee not really don't call me again or I'll replace your ass with a secretary who understands that when the boss is away, the boss is away, and is not to be treated like- well, like I treat you every weekend.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Keep telling yourself that, lady. Anything to dull the pain, I guess.

Yes, playing chirpy maid to a house full of kids and pets is exactly like directing a movie- if the movie is about a woman trapped in a mobius strip in which every day is exactly the same.  Maybe we could call it Groundhog Day Without the Funny or Heartwarming Message at the End.

But hey, whatever keeps you sane, MommyWife.  Your daughter is now a Diva who must be catered to (keep the fridge full of Pediasure.)  The animals are Extras.  Here come the financial backers- the guy who walks in wearing a suit who instantly demands food and occasionally insists that you provide sexual favors (hey, maybe this IS like being a director!)

Your life is like a Movie- a really stale, cliche'd movie which involves a lot more cleaning and cooking and soul-sucking Same than action or romance scenes, but a movie.  Keep pretending that you are directing that movie, and that it's not directing you.  And that there's a point to all this, which you'll get if you just keep at it long enough.

Hey, guess what, Mrs Director?  One of those Dinner Scenes is coming up again.  Put the vacuum away and get back in the kitchen.  Um...."Action!"  For what it's worth.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

What is this Passat Commercial good for? Absolutely Nothing.

In 1970, the United States was in it's fifth full year of combat in Vietnam- more than 35,000 young Americans were dead, thousands more permanently injured, having been torn away from the most prosperous nation on Earth to fight in a jungle on the other side of the planet against an ideology few understood and fewer still thought fit to explain to them.  They left behind Moms and Dads and Sweethearts and while many came back with their bodies intact, none returned without internal scars they would carry for the rest of their lives.

The evolution in American attitudes toward Vietnam can be traced through popular music, so often a useful window into the soul of a nation.   In 1965, Sergeant Barry Sadler's Ballad of the Green Berets made the Top Ten on the American Singles Chart.  It told the story of a dedicated military man who gladly gave his life "for those oppressed" and who left behind a final wish for his son- that he grow up to become a soldier, just like Dear Old Dad.  It fit the "lets go get 'em and beat 'em like we always have before" mentality that dominated in the first year of Boots on the Ground.  America to the rescue- the Vietcong could harass the South Vietnamese army, but once WE showed up, it was going to be Game Over.

Nine years later, the United States had withdrawn from Vietnam, which was only months away from ending a nearly thirty-year Civil War and becoming unified under Northern-Communist-rule.  After a final tally of 57,000 dead and more than a quarter-million wounded, not to mention an immense waste of money and energy which sucked the life out of Lyndon Johnnson's Great Society dreams- many Americans were beginning a re-assessment of our misguided adventure in Southeast Asia which continues to this day.  Reaching the Top Forty on the billboard charts was a song called Billy Don't Be a Hero by Paper Lace (much better known for the atrocious The Night Chicago Died.)  Billy, in stark contrast to Sadler's Green Berets, reveals a deep level of cynicism concerning the concept of "heroic sacrifice"- when the title character is killed, a letter to his fiance praises his actions on the field of battle and assures her that "she should be proud he died that way."  Her response is to throw the letter away.  My guess is that if she went on to have a child, she wouldn't be raising him to be a Green Beret.  Just a hunch.

In 1970, Richard Nixon had taken over from LBJ in the management of the Vietnam quagmire and was in the process of expanding military operations into Cambodia and Laos, not to mention intensifying the bombing of North Vietnam and Communist-held portions of the South.  He was also proceeding with the implementation of "Vietnamization," turning the responsibility for fighting the Vietnamese Communists over to the South Vietnamese Army and scaling down the use of the draft here in the US.  And it was in this year that Emerson, Lake and Palmer gave us Lucky Man, the somber tale of-- well, a Lucky Man who has it all- wealth, looks, health, and the respect and love of all who know him- but who goes off to war, takes a bullet, and bleeds to death on some unnamed battlefield.  At it's essence, it's a song about the unforgivable waste that is war.

Except that now, in 2013, the Suits have decided enough time has passed (and we kill with Drones instead of putting our own people on the front line now anyway, much cleaner that way) that they can get away with using a somber ballad about pointless loss in a commercial about a piece of Eurotrash with a beautiful wife and child who gets his Volkswagen crumpled in an accident he walks away from unharmed.

Which means that in this commercial, Lucky Man is played for laughs.

Which means that now, in 2013, Volkswagen has decided that there's simply no such thing as being too shallow, too callow, or too utterly lacking in taste or respect.  Or that they are still bitter we didn't care for "Punch Dub Days," and are going to make us pay.  Hard.

Hey, Everyone In America Over the Age of Forty- remember how angry you were when Revolution was used to sell sneakers?  This is a hundred thousand times worse.  This is Boycott-Inspiring bad.  All I'm left with is the hope that Emerson, Lake and Palmer lost control of this song years ago and Volkswagen snatched it out of the public domain or some vampire third-party which bought the rights and soullessly resold it to everyone's favorite German auto maker.  But either way...ugh, this is so. Damned. Sad.

CURRENT Tostitos Commercial. No kidding.

1.  The "owner" of the "restaurant" (apartment) is a white guy, the only waiter is a black guy.  Wearing an apron. Anytime you want to get into the 21st century with the rest of us, Tostitos....

2.  "What are all these people doing in your apartment?"  Best possible answer I can think of- "well, as you say, it is MY apartment.  If it's too crowded for you, you know where the exit is.  It's the same door you used to come in, without knocking."

3.  Instead, guy directs his girlfriend to start playing waitress.  See Comment #1.

And never mind that Tostitos seems to think that the only reason people ever go to "authentic Mexican restaurants" is for the cheap chips and salsa.  Of course, if this were true, there would be no authentic Mexican restaurants, because they all would have gone bankrupt years ago.  Then again, I'm expecting intelligence from a company that thinks "black guy=waiter" and "girlfriend=waitress."  Whatever.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Oh, and I understand that Burger King is the place to go for retirement advice

Why haven't the first pair of idiots in this ad started planning for their kid's college fund yet?  No, it's not because they don't have any money (that would make a lot more sense, and be more relatable.  Can't have that.)  It's because they "haven't had the time."

Sitting around drinking coffee with fellow breeders?  Always time for that.  Planning for your kid's ability to pay for college?  There are only so many hours in the day, after all.

Not that the people who think they've got this all covered are much better.  They "found out" about the "Gerber Life Plan."  Because if you want to set aside money for your kid to attend college, who could possibly give you better advice than a company which specializes in selling creamed peas and carrots?  And oh by the way, "it's a life insurance policy, too."  Well, that's good- in my experience, there's nothing more annoying than setting aside money for college and then having the ungrateful little brat go and die on you.

Here's a quick tip, not that either pair of stupid, clueless dopes are likely to pick up on it:  There are these really interesting people called bankers who know an awfully lot about setting up college funds.  There are also people who work at places like ING and Edward Jones who make a living taking small amounts of money invested over a long period of time into a decent little stack.  In short, there is plenty of expertise out there for you because saving for college isn't exactly a new idea.

Now, there is a caveat I must include here:  Your banker or local investor probably doesn't know a thing about baby food.  So if you have a question about that, you might not be able to take care of it in the same phone call you might make to check how your Gerber's fund is doing.  Might take two phone calls.  I kind of think it would be worth it, though.

Of course, it is your kid after all.  You want to put his college education in the hands of a company whose slogan should be Fourteen Months Since Last Formula Recall, be my guest.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Gillette's ProGuide yourself into Someone Better ad

As near as I can figure it, this is what you are supposed to do the next time you go to a swank party populated primarily by Supermodels.  I'm personally very thankful for this ad, because for me, it basically describes pretty much every Saturday night....

When you meet a very hot girl, get to know her name and then find a way to steer the conversation toward her opinion of guys and body hair.  Does she like guys?  Ok, she does- now you can move on to guys and body hair.  Does she like body hair?  Yes?  Everywhere? Oh, not there?  Try to take mental notes rather than actual ones.  It's kind of awkward to carry around a pad and pen during one of these parties.

Once you've decided which girl you want to take home with you, slip into the host's bathroom, whip out your Gillette razor, and give yourself an impromptu shave.  Now that you match the specific hair requirements of your chosen partner, she has no excuse to reject you.  Of course, you've got to find a way to get that conversation started again, and to steer it back toward the issue of body hair.  If you are a skilled wordsmith like me, you won't find this a problem.

Try not to let the girl know that you performed an act of self-mutilation less than an hour ago in response to her casual "I don't like chest hair more than half an inch above the nipples" remark.  She might look at you oddly, and she might even respond with something less than enthusiasm when she realizes that her statement concerning body hair was translated by you into "I'll sleep with any guy who conforms to it."  Make it look like a coincidence that at least one aspect of your appearance actually fits her preference.  You can deal with the "I like guys who are six feet tall" and "I like black men" issues later.

While you are doing all this, try to avoid bumping into the host- he might start asking you awkward questions, like "who invited you" and "why were you in my bathroom for forty minutes?"

Monday, May 20, 2013

Surprise! Another Stupid AmeriTrade Commercial!

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the idiot who wrote this AmeriTrade ad ran out of plausible "surprises" faced by Real People in the Real World after he hit....two.  I can just see him wracking his brains for just one more surprise we could relate to before pimping AmeriTrade, failing, and finally sticking in "your house was built on an Indian Burial Ground."  Like that would somehow cost you money, like having triplets and needing a new transmission.  WTF-ever, AmeriTrade.

And speaking of Relateable Situations- yes, it's very easy for us 99%-ers to totally get that this guy, having been hit with the sledgehammer of triplets and new transmissions and haunted houses (jesus, really....?) would experience great relief at learning that AmeriTrade features "all the Online Trading Tools We Need So No More Surprises."  Never freaking mind that less than .01% of us will EVER do our own trading online.  How small a percentage is that?  Well, it's lower than the percentage of people who will someday have triplets.  It's much lower than the percentage of people who will someday be told "you need a new transmission."  I don't know how it compares with the percentage of people who will learn that their houses were build on Indian Burial Grounds, but I can be charitable and guess it's much closer.

So please, AmeriTrade, stop showing me money-obsessed (but common-sense impaired) douchenozzles expressing relief that FINALLY someone has stopped f--ing around trying to cure cancer or solve World Hunger and has invented a way to make your online Shoving Numbers Around addiction somewhat easier to understand.   I think your customers are just awesome- they get to manipulate pretty graphs, use "research tools," and most of all pretend that they have some control over their little piles of gold.  I'll let them have their fun, while I foolishly turn thousands of dollars a year over to a professional who actually knows what she's doing (I hope- though seriously, I don't really give much of a damn, as long as I can keep buying certain people candy for the foreseeable future, it's all good...)  In the end, we'll all have something in common- we'll all be dead.  Difference is, I'm not waiting till the end to learn the lesson Kansas tried to teach us more than thirty years ago- All your money won't another minute buy.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Typical Frying-Pan-to-the-Face-Stupid from Chevy

"OMIGOD we ran all the way here the moment we learned about the sale we didn't even stop to use the bathroom we were so scared you were going to run out of overpriced shiny trucks before we got here please tell me you have one left because we ran over three small animals running red lights to get here and I wet my pants and here's my checkbook please please please tell me you have one more left who do I make the check out to here honey you fill it out I need to use the restroom!"

On television, the easiest job in the world is that of the car salesman.  Because on television, there is no such thing as a "potential customer"- just a crowd of drooling, desperate idiots who think that they are in some considerably less entertaining version of the Hunger Games, competing against all the other drooling, desperate idiots in the mad pursuit of an internal combustion engine wrapped in a pretty fiberglass and steel package.  I seriously don't know why Chevy even bothers to HIRE salespeople, when all they really need is to build gigantic vending machines capable of holding their cars and trucks.  I guess it's because in real life, some of us don't rush into car dealerships acting as if our hearts will explode in three minutes if we aren't behind the wheel of a new auto by that time, driving off several thousand dollars lighter in the wallet and with four years of monthly payments to look forward to.   It looks so much more fun on TV, doesn't it?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

My life would be so much easier if I could stand being with you, so I am going to pray for that

Not to be overly judgmental, but....oh, what the hell....

What do the lyrics "I want to fall in love with you" mean in the context of commercials for Christian Mingle?  Well, what else CAN they mean other than "you are here, you are a fellow Christian, I'm desperate, so I really really pray that after a few dates I realize that I can tolerate being with you because like I said, I'm desperate, you are here, you are a fellow Christian, and I'm sick to death of being single."

Really, what other translation IS there?  Nobody in their right mind WANTS to fall in love with anyone unless doing so would be incredibly convenient.  Like "my parents really like you and you've got money" or "you really dig me, and nobody else does."  Or "you are willing to squire me around and spend money on me."  Or "you are the father of my children and the provider of pretty much all of my financial security."  Or "I am trapped with you on a deserted island with no hope of rescue, and I can see it would suck a lot less if I was attracted to you."  In each of these cases, "I want to fall in love with you" makes perfect sense.

But in EACH case, it just really smacks of desperation to achieve the Socially Expected End Game: get married, have kids, change diapers, clean the house, cook the dinners, pay the mortgage, get old, marry off your kids to other Socially Acceptable People, get older, move to Florida, die.  Like salmon struggling like mad to get upstream to spawn, few question the value of the Goal.  Indeed, the value of the goal is Not to Be Questioned.  It just Is.

And the next generation of Christians (or whoever) is on it's way.  Mission Accomplished.  Joy.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Very sad, thoroughly exasperating Avon commercial

Perhaps the most common theme in American tv commercials is the "men are disgusting, clueless pigs who don't deserve the long-suffering women who make their lives worth living" theme.  We see it presented over and over in commercials for beer, cell phones, cable and satellite systems, etc. etc. etc.  Being a guy who in no way resembles the awful cliche'd parodies of men portrayed in these ads, they rarely fail to irritate the hell out of me.

This Avon commercial is very different.  It manages to make me truly angry at the main character's husband. It convinces me that he's an emotionally distant, abusive jerkwad who- yes- does not deserve this beautiful, sad woman he's been with for ten years-- and he's not even in the ad.   How does Avon manage to pull this off?

Well, we are told by this woman's Avon representative that she's "never worn my lipstick....because she never felt she was pretty enough for it."  We are also told that this woman (who looks just fine to me, by the way) couldn't look her Avon representative "in the eye-she wouldn't look up."  She's got some serious image problems here, and I really feel for her.  I'm rooting for the Avon lady to pick this woman up off the mat and give her a reason to believe in herself....

And then comes the horrible punchline.  We are told that this woman is about to "celebrate" (using that term very loosely) her tenth anniversary.  So here's what we now know about this customer:

She does not think she's pretty enough to wear nice lipstick.
She is not confident enough to look into the eyes of her Avon Representative.
She has been married for ten years.

Now, I'm not one to argue that a woman's self-worth is totally wrapped up in her husband.  But if this very nice-looking woman has been married for ten years and does not think that she is the sexiest, most beautiful, most incredibly desirable woman on the planet, her husband is the biggest fail in the history of human relationships. I don't need any more back story.  I don't care if this woman has suffered emotional problems in the past.  If after ten years of marriage this woman thinks she's not pretty enough to wear nice lipstick, it almost certainly means that the dickwad she's attached to likes her insecure personality because it keeps her chained to his side (and in his house.)  Because there are two rules to every man's relationship with his wife:

1.  All men believe they are married to the most beautiful woman in the world
2.  Not all men let their wives know this, because they are not certain that she feels as lucky as he does.  These men are called insecure, selfish, frightened little boys, and can generally be found "gently" reminding their wives that hey, lady, you are lucky to have me because you might not realize it, but you are really damaged and I could have done much better.  You, on the other hand, would be alone if it weren't for me and my charitable attitude toward taking in damaged people.

Maybe I'm reading way too much into this very short Avon ad, but I don't think I am.  This woman's husband doesn't have to make an appearance.  He's the worst person in the world.  And she ought to celebrate her anniversary by running off with the Avon lady.  They could go dancing.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Let's hope "Everything" includes giant bottles of Tylenol

Here's another "rather than write a script, let's just treat the audience like hard-to-convince children by repeating the same word over and over again, never mind that it will make it hate our store" commercial, this one brought to us by our favorite purveyor of paper, pens, pencils and printer ink.

If you aren't tossing something at the screen, or at least jamming your finger into the Mute button, by the third time some Please Die Right Now dickwad is bleating "Everything," take a good look in the mirror and check to see if you are the YouTube commentator who "laughs at the water cooler part every time."

For the rest of us- hey, Staples?  We get it.  Now, STFU with these brain-dead crimes against humanity disguised as advertisements.  Oh, and BTW- I bet that I walk into a Staples tomorrow and within two minutes find something not included in this offer.  Because I've been a patron of American Big Box stores long enough to know that "Everything" always means "Everything except these things."

Always? Yes, Always.  Always.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

They wanted the highway, they're happier there today. And for all Xfinity.

Two weeks ago, the people in this ad- all of whom seem to be related somehow (they do appear to be living in the same house, after all) found out that Xfinity had put a deadline on their great Double Play Deal.  Staring down the possibility of losing out on the opportunity to have unlimited access to online streaming, texting etc. etc. etc.-- not to mention unlimited excuses to never, ever talk to each other again- no one had to tell these people to Run, Don't Walk to their nearest phone (it was in their pockets) to call Xfinity and sign up.

Two weeks later, here are these people connected only by similar DNA and an address, sitting around the rooms where they used to share stories and jokes and concerns and fears and anxieties, and maybe a board game or movie now and then.  Once they used this space to talk about their days over breakfast and dinner, plan for the upcoming weekend, or drop hints about desired Christmas or Birthday presents.  Man, was all that ever lame.

Because now, the Sort-of-Humanoid lifeforms huddled in this suburban dwelling can ditch all that non-electronic-connectivity crap and stare at their own personal screens (why is there a big-screen tv on in the background?  Who is watching it?  Is it on only because this "family" feels the need to suck as much energy out of the grid as humanly possible?)  Dad, not finding enough isolation in his tablet, has taken to the attic.  Can't say I blame him.

One day I woke up and was living on a planet where every single person is celebrating the wonderful new technology which makes it possible to ignore people right next to you- not only impossible, but socially acceptable.  And this doesn't go just for strangers you'd rather not talk to at the airport.  Preferring your glowing idiot screen to family members is just a given now, a state we should be striving for with ever-increasing "connectivity" and broadband capabilities which allow us to run more and more devices at the same time so even if we turn away for a moment, we really don't.   Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister?  Been there, Done that.  Check out this game.  Friends?  Prefer the Facebook Variety.  After all, they Like you and let you know it.  And they don't hog the broadband, like these weird three-dimensional flesh-colored things hanging around your house.  They are all you'll ever need, trust me.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

At 16 seconds, this ad for Dunkin Donuts seems too long

Once you get past the idea that this guy walked right into a clothing store with an overflowing smoothie from Dunkin Donuts-- which must be right next door, considering it looks like it hasn't been touched- there really isn't a whole lot here, is there?

Yes, the guy said "Berry Cool."  So?  Now what?

Wait....that was the punchline?  No way.  Surely this ad was edited down from the original 31 seconds.  The punchline was left on the cutting room floor, and all we have to do is wait for the Director's Cut. Right, Dunkin Donuts?  Because no way you paid for someone to produce THIS.  Not everyone's favorite Coffee-and Donuts-and Once Upon a Time Free Donut Holes for the Kids.  Not the company which had the wisdom to hire They Might Be Giants  to pen a jingle a few years back.  No WAY that same company turns around and hands money to an ad team which then creates a commercial featuring the line "Berry Cool" and which then suggests that Hilarity Will Ensue because Girl is about to turn on Guy for being inattentive to her choice of dress.  Not a chance.

So- when do we get to see the Director's Cut?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

An alternative to the whole "Get a Job" or "Marry a rich guy to take care of you" strategies

So if you need money, DON'T try to get it by sitting in a diner drinking coffee and nursing a donut all day.  That method doesn't work- and why would you even attempt it, if you've got a CAR?

A car is a veritable cash machine, it turns out.  Bring it to these nice people at CashPoint, show them your car title, and they'll react by giving you a big fan of money to cool yourself with.  CashPoint REALLY likes to look at car titles!

Wait- if you don't give the cash back, including interest rates you thought were banned in the 19th century or the exclusive, trademarked property of the Mob, they'll take your car??  Well heck, this doesn't seem like such a great deal after all....

Wait a minute- is that diner walking distance from my apartment?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Ah yes, the Magic of Magnets and Velcro. Who could question it?


(Pauses to catch breath)


(Ok, sorry.  I'm ready now.)

This is another chapter in the never-ending late night tv show which might as well be called Why didn't I think of this and make a million dollars?  I mean, really.  Two dollars worth of cheap mesh, eighteen cheap magnets, and a few inches of Velcro, and suddenly I'm a RETIRED teacher sleeping in every morning and strolling museums and taking fabulous vacations instead of trying to talk over inattentive 9th graders and grading homework.

What gets me about this is not the brilliantly simple mesh curtain idea.  It's that the ad comes very close to letting us know "look, this is junk, but it will work for a while, and don't you think that even if  'a while' means a month or so, it might be worth giving it a try at this price?"  Unlike most ads for Miracle Stuff You Never Knew You Needed Until This Moment, Magic Mesh doesn't claim to be a Miracle Product (just Magic, which is not the same thing.)  It doesn't exaggerate the Miracle Properties of Magnets- we know how they work, and there they are, working exactly as expected.  It doesn't claim that Magic Indestructible Fasteners hold it in place- nope, we are TOLD it's just Velcro, and everyone under the age of fifty has a pretty good idea how well and for how long Velcro holds things in place.  Anyone with half a brain looks at these dumb animals and dogs going in and out of houses and realizes that Magic Mesh stuff is probably going to be falling down every few hours at most.  And that it won't always click shut properly- at least once in this very ad, we see the curtain fail to close completely behind someone.

But maybe, just maybe, this thing is better than having your dog scratch wildly at the patio door (you could actually train your dog not to do that, but it takes a bit more effort, and another Late Night TV Product.)  Maybe it is better than opening the door and letting the killer insects who were mysteriously waiting to ambush you into your house, where they would probably instantly kill you and your entire family.  Even if it is made out of junk and will never actually need storing, because you'll be using the Second Magic Screen Free Pay Only Extra Processing and Handling before the 4th of July weekend.

At least, it's worth thinking about.  I just wonder- does it really make that much noise when it closes?  Or was this ad made by the same people who give us those horrible Kit Kat commercials?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Dad's an unwelcome, uncool intruder, Part 56,986

Kids who apparently do not have functioning legs or any concept of posture lie splayed all over the furniture Daddy provided, in the house Daddy provided, playing on electronics Daddy provided.

Naturally, when Daddy tries to join in, Kids who depend completely on Daddy for food, clothing, shelter and the f--ing electronics in their hands react by shooting daggers at Dad which basically translate into "that's it, I want a DNA test done, there's no way you are related to me."

Or maybe just "Dads should be neither seen nor heard- they should just shell out, and then shut the f-- up and stay the f--- away and stop humiliating me by being so lame."

Someone out there with children- please, explain to me why this is funny, or how it could possibly encourage any parent to buy this stuff for their kids.  It's not like they are even learning how to play an instrument (that would be something.)  Please, help me out here- how does Buy This Technology So Your Kids Can Have Another Reason for thinking that you are a pathetic old geezer work as a marketing strategy?

Because I really don't get it.  Not at all.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Starvation is a beautiful thing?

This little stick figure spokeschoad for a nasty little product called "Slimful" helpfully explains to us idiots that "the secret to losing weight is simple: Eat Less, Lose Weight."  Gee, why didn't we think of that?

And how does one go about eating less?  Why, by using this product, of course.  I guess it fiddles with the brain's chemistry, conning it into thinking that one's stomach is full.  Not mentioned is the fact that generally, the brain tells us we are hungry when we are lacking basic nutrients, and tricking it into believing we don't need those nutrients doesn't translate into not actually needing them.  Our bodies still need calories and vitamins, regardless of whether we take some chemical that makes us think we don't.  Seems to me that taking Slimful is like painting over a rust spot or putting a piece of black tape over the Check Engine light.

So "eating less is a beautiful thing"-- if skinny, malnourished and anemic fits your definition of "beautiful."  If it is, then you fit my definition of "sick."

Here's a better idea ("better" meaning "good for your health, not just your twisted view of what surface beauty should look like.")  Listen to your body.  When it tells you "hey, I'm hungry," don't try to get it to shut up with chemicals.  Feed it with healthy food and plenty of water, and then help it digest and use the good stuff you just gave it by engaging in regular exercise.  Warning:  you'll never look like this sad, pale freak trying to sell you "Slimful."  But really, why would you want to?

It sure would be nice if these Get Thin Quick schemes would just wither and die on the vine for lack of customers, but we all know that's not going to happen.  Not in a culture which promotes "Less You" as an ideal, especially (if not exclusively) for women.  An anorexia epidemic is hardly my idea of a cure for the obesity epidemic, thanks very much anyway.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Zales Presents another "here's your yearly pay--err, I mean, Happy Mother's Day, Honey" commercial

Ugh, this has so much manipulative bs going on all at once, I hardly know where to start.

First, I wish Commercial Land would spare the Oh It's So Adorable When He Plays Me look on Mommy's face.  Enough with the concept that when Daddy picks up Baby, he's acting like Mommy, ok?  It's his kid too, dammit.  I am so damned sick of commercials which suggest that a guy who picks up his own child is deserving of a  Medal of Honor.

Second, the first point is accentuated by the "here's a bunch of rocks held together by a string, dear."  I get a very definite "Ok, I did the Dad thing, now take this bracelet as a token of my appreciation for the fact that this is a rare occurrence and that YOU are the one who gets up at 5 AM Ninety-Nine percent of the time to take care of YOUR kid."  And more adoring looks from Zombie Way Too Appreciative Wifey- "Oh honey, you picked up our child, AND you got me a bracelet from Zales!  On the same day!  And to think Mom didn't approve!"

Pardon me while I retch at the latest reminder that every Zales commercial runs on the assumption that there are women out there For Sale for the Right Rock.  I mean, I knew that already- I didn't need to be reminded.

A few polite questions for the DVR Genie

1.  Why would anyone want or need to "record up to five programs at the same time?"  I could be charitable and assume that there are some people out there who only enjoy watching five specific television shows, and because the universe is aligned against them, they are all scheduled to run at exactly the same time.  I could be, but I'm not going to be.  It's far more likely that if you enjoy watching five shows that are being broadcast at the same time, you are pretty much infatuated with everything that shows up on your idiot box, and feel an urgent need to watch all of it.  Or, at least, to record all of  it.  Which leads me to....

2.  Do the people who buy this service and who actually record several programs being broadcast at the same time ever actually WATCH any of these shows?  Because these commercials strongly suggest that it's All About the Recording.   Is it just a power thing?  You need this Genie doohicky because in order to justify your cable bill, you must have the power to record everything you can't watch while it's being broadcast?  I strongly suspect that this is the case, because....

3.  A lot of these commercials tackle the "problem" of "Full DVRs."  This REALLY boggles.  So some of you out there are recording and recording and recording (sadly, this is often referred to as "building libraries," because storing thousands of hours of mind-numbingly stupid television is EXACTLY the same as collecting, reading, and lovingly storing books) so much junk that you run out of DVR memory?  Do you just insist on keeping everything you record, even after you've watched it (assuming you ever get around to watching it, See #2?)

4.  Are there people out there who really find the inability to record endless television as horribly annoying as these vile bags of couch pus?  If so, is it ok if I dismiss such TV-addled techno-junkies as the lifeless, soulless freaks they are?

5.  As for the "this Genie is even greater than...." isn't it especially sad that the ridiculous image this guy conjures up is certainly a combination of Amazingly Cool Stuff He Saw Other People Do On Television, but will never, EVER have the chance to even attempt to simulate in real life, because that would involve GOING OUTSIDE?

Finally- if this DVR Genie thing is half as Cool and Awesome and Essential as it is sold on television, why are there still so damned many people in front of me at the cash register and on the thruway?  Shouldn't they all be home filling their bottomless DVRs with mindless junk that they won't be watching later?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

It's a Beautiful Life,* especially when viewed from the bottom of a glass of 1800 Tequila

Yeah, that's pretty cool.  1800 Tequila just poured me a shot.

Here are other things that are pretty cool- in Military Time, 1800 was when I sat down at the bar last Friday and ordered my first shot of Tequila.  The empty ache inside was instantly numbed and replaced by a kind of sad despair which was still better because it didn't hurt quite as much.

By 1900, I was on my fourth shot, and the resentment and bitterness over that girl who simply will not call was replaced by a rather generic "f-- her, I wouldn't talk to her if she tried to contact me now anyway" conviction.  Fortified by a fifth shot.

And by twenty hundred hours, every single girl in the bar looks really good-- not too good for me, but good just the same.  Too bad I can't get off my stool to introduce myself, and too bad they won't come over and talk to me, but it's their loss.

And an hour or so later, when I'm vomiting into a trash can in the alley behind the bar, well, that's just the price you pay when you indulge in extra-classy tequila like this.  So is the awful hangover I have the next day.  The returning thoughts of that person I tried to forget for a few hours?  That's the reason I'll be back next Friday.

Sometimes it's easier than dealing with the pain. **   Me and the guy in this ad get it.

*Ace of Base

**Soul Asylum

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


I guess this is what happens to trucks when they are found guilty of high treason?

Seriously, what is the point of this stupid ad?  Nobody is going to do this to a truck, ever.  I simply can not imagine a situation in which I find myself in a truck hoping that it will stay together as it's being pulled by heavy chains attached to winches.  I also can't see myself handing my truck over to my mechanic for the fourth time in three years because yet another electronic doohicky has failed and thinking "well, at least I know it can withstand being picked up by heavy chains attached to winches.  That's certainly something."

So, guys?  If you want me to buy a truck (good luck with that.  Not likely) stop showing them pulling space shuttles or saving airplanes or flying down ski slopes.  Stop showing me how I could be throwing rusty engines into them before high-fiving my fellow weekend warrior male types while wearing greasy, dirty work gloves.  And stop trying to sell me on your trucks based on their ability to hold together while being pulled by winches.  Because this- this is just really stupid and pointless and has nothing to do with what's going on in my life.