Saturday, November 21, 2009

Great commercials of 2009


The other day I posted something commercials that have made me sick or angry this year.

A friend of mine, Jay the Newspaper Guy, read that and suggested that I post something about commercials that I actually liked.

That was a good idea. Most commercials either suck or just plain don’t interest me. There are some, however, that cause me to pause and watch instead of simply skipping over them with my DVR.

That’s the hallmark of a good commercial, isn’t it? I mean, if you can get someone to actually sit down and watch the thing, then you’re more likely to sell whatever junk you’re trying to unload on the public.

So, Jay the Newspaper Guy, these are for you:

1. Miller High Life crusades for common sense. The Miller delivery guy has been depriving the snooty of his beer for a couple of years now. He made his way to the Kentucky Derby in this ad. Great stuff.

2. Castrol Edge reminds you to "think with your dipstick, Jimmy." What’s not to love here? A deranged fellow runs around beating on people with a dipstick. Once you stop asking yourself just what the hell is going on here, you’ll laugh yourself silly.

3. Sonic -- my little tater tot. Raise your hand if you’re married, male and have said something stupid that got you into a lot of trouble. I sure have and that makes this commercial all the funnier – better that cat than me, right?

4. Apple makes fun of Windows 7. Microsoft advises an upgrade? That’s just fine – why not upgrade to a Macintosh? Laffs aplenty…

5. Verizon takes a swipe at Apple. I’ve talked to a number of people who have iPhones who are irate about the limited 3G coverage. Verizon capitalizes on this and beats up on Apple like Apple beats up on Microsoft. Isn’t competition wonderful?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

‘They drop turkeys out of airplanes? Really?’


It’s odd how you can live in a state for all your life and be completely ignorant about some of the more colorful history in the region.

Such is the case with me and the Yellville Turkey Trot that’s been going on since 1946. Every year that particular Arkansas town celebrates it’s abundant wild turkey population by holding the Turkey Trot festival on the second Friday and Saturday in October.

The biggest – and least talked about – aspect of the Turkey Trot is the unofficial Turkey Drop. I’ll talk more about that in a minute.

This evening I was talking to my wife about various WKRP Thanksgiving/Christmas things when I mentioned that famed episode on WKRP in Cincinnati in which doomed turkeys were hurled out of airplanes. It seems turkeys don’t fly all that well and splattered on the ground, much to the horror of gathered Thanksgiving celebrators.

“That’s based on a real event, you know,” my wife said. “That started in Yellville.”

“No it’s not,” I protested. “Throwing turkeys out of an airplane would be insane.”

I continued to claim that my wife was pulling my leg, so she dug up this story for me. It seems people started tossing wild turkeys of the courthouse roof in Yellville early on and then started dropping the poor things out of low-flying planes in the 1960s. That practice continued until national attention was brought to it by the aforementioned WKRP episode, a story in the National Enquirer and pressure from groups against animal cruelty.

The city got away from the annual “Turkey Drop” around 1990 but, evidently, the practice still continues unofficially. I’ll have to go see that one day. Apparently, some turkeys still fall to their deaths while others survive and either run into the woods or get chased all over town.

Strange, strange, strange.

Take that, peladophobiacs!


Dave the Tech Guy gave me some great news while we were at work the other day – there are people in this world who fear bald people.

Yeah. That’s right. Bald people. Click here if you don’t believe me.

That fear of bald people is called peladophobia and, apparently, those afflicted with it can suffer from “breathlessness, dizziness, excessive sweating, nausea, feeling sick, shaking, heart palpitations, inability to speak or think clearly, a fear of dying, becoming mad or losing control, a sensation of detachment from reality or a full blown anxiety attack.”

And it seems that peladophobia is fairly widespread. As a man who is going bald I couldn’t be happier.

Why? Because the whole thing is just plain funny. Yes, the very notion that my balding head could cause people heart palpitations, filling them with the fear of dying, etc. seems both ridiculous and fair.

Fair? Yes, fair. Going bald is downright annoying and distinctly unfair. Those cocky folks with healthy hairlines are uppity and they deserve getting a heart palpitation or two when they run across some of us who aren’t so blessed.

Peladophobia, then, is just nature’s way of letting some of us get even. We balding men have power and it’s high time we stepped up to the plate and used it.

By the way, is a peladophobiac goes bald, is he scared of himself? I wonder…

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Commercials that have made me sick or angry this year


Yes, I’m a confirmed television junkie.

One of the greatest inventions on the planet is the DVR. There’s nothing like a big hard drive built into a digital receiver that allows you to record shows in advance and skip through commercials (or pause a live show long enough so that you can skip away as necessary).

Still, I wind up seeing commercials a heck of a lot more than I like. Some of them have annoyed the hell out of me and the following is a list – in no particular order – of ones that have made me furious or slightly ill this year. I should mention that no political ads were used as they are universally terrible and – remarkably – often contain more filthy lies than what the corporate flim-flam artists dish out in their putrid commercials. Picking on a political ad is just too easy.

1. Chevrolet Silverado vs. Toyota Tundra. What do you do after your company has been bailed out by the federal government because it was so poorly run? Why, hire Howie Long to make fun of people who didn’t buy your company’s products, of course.

A perfect response from Toyota would have been a commercial in which a GM stockholder is ridiculed because he got scammed for millions by a company that was run into ground by short-sighted goons that are skimming by on horribly designed vehicles and billions of federal dollars. Toyota, however, may be too classy for such a move. I doubt that company views GM as serious competition these days, anyway.

I should point out that GM hired Long to make another commercial in which he made fun of a Ford F-150 owner. That’s particularly amusing when you consider that Ford has kicked the hell out of Chevrolet in the pickup truck market for decades. Ford, in fact, is the only American auto manufacturers that has figured out how to make decent cars and turn a profit. GM needs to shut up and release some more innovative designs (that fuel-sipping, asphalt-crushing Camaro, for example) than wasting cash on commercials that are just moronic.

2. Boost Mobile – Unwronged. When this ad first aired, I literally couldn't look at it without feeling more than a bit nauseous. In fact, I still have trouble watching the thing. “Unwronged?” There’s nothing right about this commercial at all.

This “armpit hair” commercial is so sickening, in fact, that I’ll never buy anything that Boost Mobile is selling. Why anyone thought this commercial would result in any sales at all is beyond me. Everyone involved in this commercial in any shape, form or fashion deserves an ass kicking.

3. Trojan Vibrating Touch. Here’s more evidence that society has gone straight to hell. Two women discuss the virtues of the new Trojan Vibrating Touch that “everyone is talking about” at the first of the commercial and it just gets worse from there.

You’ll cringe when the dingbat on the left describes the tiny vibrator as being “so cute.” You’ll roll your eyes when the two women allude to the fact they can get an orgasm from the thing. If you don’t get more than a bit creeped out when the old bat behind the counter joins in the conversation and talks about how easy it was to order hers then you’re just depraved beyond all hope.

As if the first half of the ad wasn’t bad enough, the last part is dedicated to a bunch of testimonials from women who have bought this thing and just love the hell out of it. What in God’s name have we – as a society – done to deserve being tormented by commercials like this? Advertisers want to gripe about people skipping over commercials with DVRs? They’re lucky they don’t get boycotted by outraged viewers in response to this kind of nonsense.

Just try explaining this ad to your kids. Yeah, there’s a fun conversation.

4. Levi Johnston sells Wonderful brand pistachios. So Johnston knocks up Sarah Palin’s daughter then makes fun of the whole incident by starring in a commercial which states that he now “does it with protection.”

Heh, heh. Unwanted teen pregnancies. Now, that’s something to make light of, huh? I can’t decide who is the bigger jerk – Johnston for appearing in this commercial or the pinhead that came up with it.

Show this ad to anyone who wants a textbook definition of the word “tacky.”

5. YellaWood – the adventures of Yella Fella. The above commercial is part of an entire series of these dreadful things. Stiff acting, a fat guy acting like a rough-and-tumble cowboy, embarrassingly bad attempts at humor – this miserable series had it all.

I never heard of YellaWood until the company started tormenting me with these ads. I despise the company now for subjecting me to this trash. I can’t help but think I’m not the only one.

Damn you, Richie Rich


Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m just downright wacky about television.

I’ve loved it ever since I was big enough to understand what was going on with Sesame Street, Captain Kangaroo and all those Saturday morning cartoons. When I was growing up we didn’t have cable and, really, most people didn’t back in the 1970s.

Ah, and cable just made things worse. My digital satellite service increased my addiction to television because I could waste my time on even more channels.

Yes, television is good and I’ll fight any man who disagrees with me. Still, there are time when TV just annoys the hell out of me.

One of those times was this evening when I was watching TV with my wife. Since we were watching “live,” I couldn’t skip forward through commercials and that was a bad thing. We saw this commercial about that Richie Rich movie starring Macaulay Culkin and I realized just how much I despise Richie Rich. I detest Richie Rich even more than Count Chocula, in fact, and that’s saying something.

I’ve never liked that Richie Rich bastard a bit, really, and never understood why that character got as popular as he did. He’s been around since 1957 – first in comics, then on an animated Saturday morning cartoon in the 1980s and then in the aforementioned movie.

In the Harvey comics he was tagged as “the poor little rich boy.” They should have used some other slogan -- “serving up class envy since 1957” or “things rich kids have that you never will.”

The whole series, see, is based around this kid who has more cash at his disposal than, say, Canada. He lives in Richville and his father owns Rich Industries. Hell, the little brat has a dog named Dollar, for God's sake. The whole thing plays out like a version of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous (another franchise which was inexplicably popular for awhile) for kids.

The series has always struck me as odd for a couple of reasons – it appears to be fueled by an unhealthy fascination with wealth and suggests more than a few times that your problems will be solved if someone with money shows up and helps you out of them. Richie Rich, indeed, spends a lot of time (and money) doing good deeds and appears to be popular in town because of just that.

The message that sends kids, seemingly, is pretty toxic. It appears you can’t accomplish much of anything without a pile of cash. If you don’t have one of your own, then perhaps a wealthy neighbor will let you have some of his and your problems will be solved.

I’d like my kids to be more self reliant than that, I think.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Music Monday - Haunted

One of the best purchases I’ve made in some time is the Behringer Guitar Link.

Why? I can plug my guitar and bass into that little device, run it through the USB port on my computer and record and mix tracks all day long. As I’ve mentioned a time or two, I have decided to use free software to record my stuff. I do rather suck at guitar, after all, so why spend a lot of money on amp models and the like when I can find what I need for free?

Of course, when I say free, I’m not talking about pirated or anything like that. Click one of those links up there to find out about some of the open source stuff I’ve found.

I have an obnoxious tendency to post something here whenever I do find a cool, free thing I can use for recording. An application I downloaded the other day is the HammerHead Rhythm Station.

That’s an easy to use drum machine that sounds pretty good when you install the acoustic samples (you’ll find more details at the above link). Want to hear it in action? Just click the “play” button on the DivShare thingie above to hear something I wrote that would sound even worse without the HammerHead drum machine and a set of acoustic drums samples.

All I had to do was program in my beat, stream it as a WAV file to my computer, loop it through Audacity, load it into my Kristal Audio Engine mixer and record two guitar tracks and a bass track around it.

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. One simple rule, leave ONLY the actual post link here. You can grab this code at LJL Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.

PS: Because of spamming purposes, the linky will be closed on Thursday of each week at midnight, Malaysian Time. Thank you!