Now, A Word From Our Sponsors

I’ll admit it, I watch too much TV.  Unlike lots of folks, I don’t just sit there like a potted plant.  I constantly complain about bad plots, breaks in continuity, and of course, commercials.  The gap between the imaginary world of advertisers and reality drives me nuts. Whining to my wife and dog isn’t enough; I’ve got to write entire blog posts about it.

Initial translations were assigned to commandments and such, but recent interpretations actually show the ancients were using the tablets to play soduko on the couch. (Image from flickr dot com)
Initial translations were thought to be  commandments and such, but recent interpretations actually show the ancients were using the tablets to play sudoku on the couch. (Image from flickr dot com)

Tablets/Laptops

Ad Portrayal: Tablet users design surf boards, organize food drives and find sources of potable water for refugees in the Sudan.  They also use their tablets to take pictures of breathtaking scenery and refer to online astronomy charts while out in the wilderness at night (Despite being a million miles from anywhere, there’s a good WiFi signal).

Harsh Reality:  Tablet users are playing Bubble Witch Saga, watching porn in the powder room, or checking Facebook for likes on recently posted photos of their cats and/or nephews.  They occasionally “lose” the tablet just to keep the kids from hogging it.

Pick-Up Trucks

Ad Portrayal:  Pick-Up owners are driving to work sites, parking entirely too close to the hearth at the steel mill, and generally playing key roles in building the infrastructure that makes this country great.  The guy doing the voice-over sounds like he’s from somewhere in the Rockies, unless it’s Dennis Leary who sounds like Dennis Leary.

Harsh Reality:  No one is allowed to put anything dirty in the back of Dad’s truck, including but not limited to: mulch, play sand or lumber.  Despite the truck being equipped with Bluetooth for safe, hands-free communication, Dad never answers when his brother-in-law calls because he needs help moving.

This photo serves to illustrate both pick up trucks and SUV's towing boats.  You can thank me later for killing fewer digital trees to illustrate my blog.  (Image from allfail dot com)
This photo serves to illustrate both pick up trucks and SUV’s towing boats. You can thank me later for killing fewer digital trees to illustrate my blog. (Image from allfail dot com)

SUV’s

Ad Portrayal:  SUV drivers navigate through mud, snow and over all sorts of rugged terrain as children play happily in the back seat.  Dads reconnect with their children by taking the whole family to the Grand Tetons while towing expensive looking boats.

Harsh Reality: There are damn few boulder fields in suburbia.  A few weeks ago, one of the kids dropped an almond butter and jelly sandwich behind one of the fold down rear seats. It smells like it might be fermenting.  Having these killer car payments often prevents SUV owners from buying so much as a dinghy to tow.

This is either an old fashioned restaurant, or a bunch of craftsmen getting wasted after hours in the cobbler's shop (Image from zazzle dot com)
This is either an old fashioned restaurant, or a bunch of craftsmen getting wasted after hours in the cobbler’s shop (Image from zazzle dot com)


Restaurants

Ad Portrayal:  Healthy, good-looking people have incredibly tasty looking food delivered by a perky, knowledgeable waitress.  There are frosty pints of beer handy to wash it down.  The diners look like they’re having so much fun, they might not even get around to actually eating anything.  The camaraderie is so thick, you can cut it with one of the handy butter knives.

Harsh Reality:  The waitress has a hairy mole on her cheek and an Eastern European accent which make the specials at this Tex Mex joint sound like they are composed of boiled cabbage and beet greens.  Our trio of diners could each stand to drop twenty pounds.  The patrons at a nearby table are loud, and not in a good way.  Somewhere else in Svetlana’s section, a small child wails in his high-chair and throws re-fried beans with reckless abandon while his parents pretend not to notice.

E.D.. Medications – Single Dose

Ad Portrayal:  A rugged-but-sensitive looking guy finishes fixing a broken section of barbed wire fence out on the back forty.  His pick-up truck gets stuck in a muddy rut on the dirt road.  He ties the draft horse from his trailer to the front of the pick up and pulls himself back onto dry land. His MacGyver-like solution to the dilemma is clearly just another day in the life of a fellow who gets things done.  He looks like he might be the guy doing the voice-over work on the truck commercials when he’s not working his ranch (but not like Dennis Leary).  He pulls up in front of the cozy farmhouse, where the warm lights in the windows are a symbol for the waiting arms of the gorgeous woman who awaits him.  If “Old Yeller” aint up for hunting , MacGyver can fix that too.

Harsh Reality:  Misinterpreting his wife’s sleeping moans as those of desire, Mr. Fixit slips into the bathroom and pops a little blue pill.  Upon returning to the bedroom his wife is silent and there is unpleasantly aromatic evidence that her moaning was not actually desire-related at all, but rather directly tied to the sizable amounts of pinto beans in her meal earlier at the Tex Mex joint.  Despite the lack of romance in the air, the pill does it’s job.  After some grumbling, the husband decides to sleep on the couch, and maybe catch up on some emails on the tablet.

Kim Kardashian in my post; Check!  Cialis and Viagra in my post: Check! and Check!
Kim Kardashian in my post; Check! Cialis and Viagra in my post: Check! and Check!  All three put in my tags to shamelessly boost blog hits; C.H.E.C.K !!!

E.D.. Medications – Daily Use

Ad Portrayal:  Another good-looking guy sorts through boxes in the attic with his wife and stumbles upon a well-worn record album.  His wife, despite looking like she is a generation younger than him, is immediately touched by the guy’s selection of the music (which would likely be relevant to only one of them).  They commence to slow dancing among the boxes as late afternoon sun slants into the storage space.  The picture fades to dark, and we all know what comes next.

Harsh Reality:  The guy takes these pills everyday, along with fish oil and baby aspirin.  When cleaning the attic, he comes across a record album.  He cannot play it, as he hasn’t had a turntable since his junior year of college.  He shows his wife the album.  After a moment, she berates him for keeping old crap and tells him to put it in the junk pile.  The daily-use ED medications will later be expelled from his body,  as he sits in the powder room, trying to reach the next level of Bubble Witch Saga on his tablet.

 

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Farewell To A Soon-To-Be Bygone Era

With the opening of pot stores in Colorado in January 2014, the writing is on the wall for the impending demise of what was considered by some to be the outlaw-vogue marijuana mystique.  I thought I’d better write this before this culture of cool disappears entirely.

Smuggler’s Blues

I recall a girl I encountered one summer in my youth.  She was wafer thin and very cute.  She may have had a twin sister, I’m not sure, my memory of such ancient trivia is worn by the years.  One thing I do recall was her ingenious method for hiding a bag of pot on her person.  The tube-top and hip hugger bell bottoms she wore left precious little room for smuggling illicit cargo.  Once she was convinced that I was “cool” she lifted up the hem of her bell bottoms and revealed a bag of weed held with a safety pin to the inside of the leg of her pants.  The fact that I recall that episode at all should reflect just how impressed I was at the time.  With pot legalized, the creativity of hiding such bulky contraband will go the way of dinosaur farming and rum running.

For the record, the girl in question wore no such hat, which would have provided her with yet another hiding spot.  (Image from etsy dot com)
For the record, the girl in question wore no such hat, which would have provided her with yet another hiding spot. (Image from etsy dot com)

A Weed By Any Other Name

Once upon a time, pot was known by relatively few names like Mary Jane, Reefer or Wacky Tobacky.  As the culture of marijuana grew, smokers could choose from (alleged) strains such as Panama Red and Acapulco Gold.  The monikers of today’s varieties are certainly a departure from the names of old.  As an example, one medical dispensary in Michigan is currently offering varieties such as Cataract Kush, Ziggy Starcrunch and  Death Star Clone.  As pot becomes mainstream, it’s only a matter of time before Madison Avenue gets involved and starts coming up with slicker brand names to appeal to target demographics and such.  Potential product names include Appee-Tight, U-Wanna-Ganja, and Happy Hippy Swirl.

The New Riders of the Purple Sage had an entire record album named after Panama Red.  That's an A side and a B side, folks, a big honor indeed.  (Image from en dot Wikipedia dot org)
The New Riders of the Purple Sage had an entire record album named after Panama Red. That’s an A side AND a B side, folks, a big honor indeed. (Image from en dot Wikipedia dot org)

Max Head Room

A unique byproduct of the illicit marijuana trade was the head shop.  Largely already gone from the landscape, head shops sold rolling papers, pipes and all manner of bongs.  In addition, there were lots of cool items to enjoy once one had partaken in some git-high, such as black lights, dashiki’s for white people and slow-motion wave machines.  It’s hard to imagine smokers choosing to spend their cash on a slow-motion wave machine when for the same money they could have bought a bag of Jamaican Lamb’s Breath Ganja and still had enough spare change left for Taco Bell.  With herb going legit, the few remaining head shops will be replaced by kiosks in the mall and maybe a special counter at the local Costco.  No doubt merchandisers like The Sharper Image will get in on the market selling bongs and marijuana vaporizers.  It wouldn’t surprise me if someone came out with some sort of Keurig-like device for the people who don’t want a lot of muss and fuss with their pot preparation.

It's like watching waves form in like cross section, but then it like crashes into the opposite side and starts over again like going the other way all slow and stuff, and then it's like whoa - going the other way and...oh man, did I miss my bus? (Image from plus dot google dot com)
It’s like watching waves form in like cross section, but then it like crashes into the opposite side and starts over again like going the other way all slow and stuff, and then it’s like whoa – going the other way and…oh man, did I miss my bus? (Image from plus dot google dot com)

Consume Mass Quantities

Back in the day, buyers could get dime bags, nickel bags, and something called a “lid”.  I’ve never purchased any of these amounts myself, but I’ve watched enough episodes of Mod Squad and Dragnet to have a pretty good idea of what I’m talking about.  With legitimacy will come a new set of packaging strategies.  What was once referred to as a “loose joint” will become a “pre-rolled individual cigarette kick”, or P.R.I.C.K.  A “bong hit” will now be packaged as “single serving” or a “B-Cup” for use with the newly created Keurig-style electric bong.  The old ounce bag with be sold as a “Super Valu Pak” complete with a colorful logo and anti-theft chip imbedded in its plastic container.

You may find a nickel bag under Willie's hat, a dime bag in his pocket, and a Super-Valu-Pak in his tour bus.  (Image from Huffingtonpost dot com)
You may find a nickel bag under Willie’s hat, a dime bag in his pocket, and a Super-Valu-Pak in his tour bus. (Image from Huffingtonpost dot com)

Gather Round Kids, Pappy’s Gonna Tell You A Story About The Olden Days

I guess it was all inevitable.  The world changes and something which was once taboo becomes accepted, only to be replaced by a new naughty.  Perhaps someday, when there’s a break in the conversation around the Thanksgiving dinner table, I can clear my throat and tell the great-grandkids about the olden times.  They’ll look up from their heaping plates of genetically engineered turkey flavored nutri-paks with cranberry-essence gelcaps and listen as I tell them all about the exciting adventures of Panama Red.

Holiday Inn – You Trippin’ !

Holiday Inn is currently running an ad.  It’s innocuous enough, and pretty much what you’d expect of a commercial from them.  One line of the narration caught my ear though, and it’s making me look at advertising media with even more scrutiny then usual.

Did you catch it?  At about 17 seconds in the narrator says “..we ended up bringing the world together”

I’m okay with the promise of clean comfortable rooms and a pool or fitness center.  I’ll accept an ad agency making a typically sad breakfast buffet look like an elimination challenge on Top Chef Masters.

But bringing the world together?  Seriously?

The most powerful, enigmatic people of modern history would have a tough time saying that they brought the world together.

Holiday Inn has a history of building hotels.  They’ve long employed people to change sheets and hand out keys.  For a fee, they supplied travellers with a place to stay when they were tired and still 150 miles outside of Cleveland.  To take those accomplishments and say they brought the world together has to fall on the exaggeration/fabrication end of the spectrum.

The commercial itself doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the fact that I probably saw that it a dozen times before noticing that outrageous boast.  I’m a fairly discriminating viewer of mediocre TV.  Most people don’t watch it with my near-anal preoccupation to detail.  That’s what scares me.

Holiday Inn is far from the only company making outlandish, yet impossible to disprove claims in their ads.

Subaru tells viewers that love is what makes a Subaru a Subaru.  Love – the single most mercurial and precious of all human conditions; that which has inspired the greatest works of art and literature over the history of mankind.  People have killed themselves and one another over love.  Can anyone truly believe that love actually has anything to do with making a Subaru a Subaru?

I don’t have a Subaru.  I do like my car very much, and the day it stops working well, I’ll hate it.  I’m not without faults, but tossing my love around all willy nilly is not one of them.  I reserve my that sweet gift for other human beings and McKenzie Brewing’s delicious Twisted Meniscus India Pale Ale.

People are being fed wildly presumptuous lies and they don’t even realize it.  They pass the Holiday Inn on Route 206 and a warm feeling passes through them, because on a subconscious level, they believe they’re in the presence of a Nobel prize worthy entity.  They’re not.  They’re driving past a hotel.  If by chance they’re in a Subaru the warm feeling they’re mistaking for love is likely just the heated driver’s seat.

Just Kidding!

I came across a video recently.  The LG company, in an attempt to show how incredibly life-like their 84 inch HD TV is, decided to scare some innocent people half to death.  As pranks go, this one was deviously clever and well executed.

Frightening people and then laughing at their reactions is nothing new.  It’s been a staple of man’s entertainment since the beginning of time.  A Neanderthal named Toorah grunted to his cave neighbor Oog to watch out for that saber toothed tiger behind him.  Oog whirled around raising his club in defense, but found nothing.  He turned back to find Toorah and his buddy Chrok rolling in the dirt laughing at his startled reaction.  Oog swore to himself to never fall for it again.  Eventually the three of them got back to hunting giant ground squirrels and finding suitable mates – though as Toorah liked to point out, not necessarily in that order.

"Holy crap, Oog!  You shoulda seen yer face!  It was priceless!  I'm gonna draw a picture of it on my cave wall" (Image from humanevents dot com)
“Holy crap, Oog! You shoulda seen yer face! It was priceless! I’m gonna draw a picture of it on my cave wall” (Image from humanevents dot com)

LG, or more accurately, its ad agency, raised the bar significantly on the old “Look out behind you!” gag.  They put the horror behind the trickster and let the victims see for themselves.  Instead of a saber toothed tiger, they went with a meteor strike and apocalyptic explosion.  These poor people, who were there to apply for jobs, were then scared beyond their wildest nightmares while several cameras captured every second of it.  In the end, the lights came back on, and a troupe of behind-the-scenes pranksters came in and let them in on it.  It was all a joke!  It turns out that the city didn’t get leveled by a flaming rock from outer space.  By the way, there’s not really a job for you to apply for either.

I would have liked this commercial a whole lot more if the applicants actually received jobs.  They could have come into to work for a few months and under-performed.  When the bosses called them on their lack of productivity, they could shrug and tell them that they thought it was just an elaborate hoax and that no one was actually expecting them to finish the Rodriquez proposal.  The applicants might have been more productive, but they’d often spent their workdays sitting at their desks trying to come up with payback pranks for their employer.

I’m writing this blog to give fair warning to all of you.

I don’t consider myself a violent person.  Nor do I foresee myself applying for any jobs anytime soon.  In the event that you trick me into thinking the world is seconds away from total annihilation and that my death is imminent, it will not go well.  My relief will be brief, followed quickly by a violent backlash.  If your actions result in me crapping my finest interview suit, there will be consequences which will far exceed my bill from the dry cleaner.  In fact, I’m guessing that my reaction may result in some dental bills for you and your cohorts.  There’s not a judge in the world who’s going to find me guilty of assault.  I just hope you keep the cameras running while I pummel you.

You’ll rue the day you played a trick on David J. Oog.

Life On The Border

A man of my years should be flattered.  I mean really – the young woman is very attractive.  She’s got a great smile, an impressive physique, and a devilish look in her eye.  She gazed at me from the border and made saucy suggestions about how I might spend my time with her.

There she is again!  This time, she targeting people who are over 70 and want to learn to speak Balkan.  Is Balkan even a language?  How can anyone over 70 resist her siren song?! (Image stolen from my very own Facebook border)
There she is! She bears little resemblance to what I imagined a linguist would look like, but maybe she’s just a really attractive one.  Maybe she enjoys teaching mature men how to speak foreign languages.  Can anyone over 50 resist her siren song?! (Image stolen from my very own Facebook border)

She seductively stared at me from the right hand margin of my Facebook page and tried to catch my eye – as if her curvaceous form and sassy attitude didn’t already trump yet another pet memorial from one of my junior high social-studies classmates.

“Watch this crazy linguistics video!” she purred.  I may be a little long in the tooth, but I know a come-on when I see one.  Kids today and their zany euphemisms!  I almost had to blush at the thought of what “linguistics” must mean.  I’m not sure if this girl is a centerfold, a zumba instructor or both, but if she was into “linguistics” then more power to her!

“If you don’t know French and are age 50+ you’ll want to see this video immediately” she cooed to me.

She’s going to teach me “French”?  There’s a video?!  I can’t believe they’d let such a flagrant seductress on Facebook!  I must admit that the idea of a girl who’s this interested in men twice her age is a little off-putting.   After brief consideration, I supposed she preferred her playmates to be in bifocals.  Maybe she’d tired of the guys of her own generation who spent all their time at the gym and playing video games.  Those young pups are too busy trying to kill zombies and aliens to invest the time needed to learn how to take a relationship with a beautiful young woman to the next level using “French” and “linguistics”.

Being a crafty old coot, I knew better than to jump too soon.  I let her think I wasn’t all that interested.  Perhaps she’d think that I already knew French.  Patience is one of the most critical things I’ve learned over these past couple of decades – that and the importance of getting enough fiber in my diet.

Before I could make my move, she’d disappeared and was replaced by a real estate ad  for a 2 bedroom condo in the Village.  Who would be crazy enough to think that I’d be in the market for a condo in the Village?  People who are 50+ and don’t speak French are woefully out of place in a locale as trendy as that.  Do some research, advertising people!

When the Greenwich Village condo ad was replaced by one for a South Jersey Subaru dealer, I was worried that my playing hard-to-get had left the raven-haired vixen feeling rejected.  The poor thing had put herself out there so brazenly, and I had ignored her.  I was such a mean, sexy old grouch.  By now, she’d likely given up explaining the three families of French verbs to the wrinkled masses and was drowning her sorrows doing keg-stands with the Grand Theft Auto players from down the hall.

Just as suddenly as she had vanished, she reappeared in my Facebook border.  I was overjoyed to see her.  I tried to play it cool, though.  I knew fawning all over her ad would be the wrong move.  While only casting discrete glances in her direction, I felt like there was something different.  Was it her smile?  Had she lost a bit of the free-spirit in her eyes?  Her cup size and sexually-defiant posture certainly seemed unchanged.  Then I saw it!  She was looking to teach Italian to the over 60 set!

I’d had my chance, and I’d blown it.  She’d moved on to guys who were even older than me.  I can pass for 49 1/2 in the right light, but only a hottie with a severe astigmatism would think I was in my 60’s.  It was over between us before it had ever really started.  The bitter taste of rejection must have pushed this sweet young linguist over the edge.  She’d abandoned her desire to teach French to younger-old guys like me.  She lowered the bar to working on Italian with gents who had Geritol on their breath and a water glasses full of dentures soaking on the nightstand.

It’s all just as well I suppose.  Married men of my age have no business learning foreign languages from swimsuit models.  Still, I had let my mind go down that path and now my humdrum life seems to ache for a new direction.  I’m thinking that maybe I should reconsider a place in the Village.  If my wife says no, then I’ll have to settle for a Subaru.

Madison Avenue – You Done Me Wrong

I bought a new car not too long ago.  Don’t get the wrong impression; I’m not the kind of high-rolling blog writer who can afford to go out and buy a new car whenever I’m not playing squash or taking European vacations.  In fact, this was the first new car I’ve bought in about 20 years.

I took the time to shop around for a while to find the car which best suited me.  I did lean toward the more luxurious side of the middle of the road, largely because by the time another 20 years ticks by, my main mode of transportation will likely be a Hoveround scooter or a hearse.

During the shopping process,  Madison Avenue got in my head and played with my brain.

I looked at the Acura TL.  At the time, their ad campaign featured famous athletes like Calvin “Megatron” Johnson of the Detroit Lions and Olympic free-style skier Ashleigh McIvor being transformed from raw, powerful physical specimens into elegant, refined versions of themselves.  The message is simple; beneath the sophisticated exterior of this car, beats the heart of an elite performer.

This is a still shot from Olympic gold medalist Ashleigh McIvor’s Acura spot. I could have used one from Calvin Johnson’s ad, but I liked this one a little more..OK..a lot more. (Image from adland.tv)

Besides the simplicity of the message, the ad agency had the good sense to use the athletes for their bodies and personae only, leaving the spoken words for voice-over professionals.

Lincoln ads had an appeal as well.  They featured actor John Slattery, who plays the silver-haired Roger Sterling on AMC’s show about 1950’s/60’s Madison Avenue, “Mad Men“.  As a fan of the show, it’s fun for me to see “Roger” – especially in a commercial.  From a casting standpoint, he’s a clever choice.  Even people who’ve never seen Mad Men will perceive Roger, as I prefer to call him, as a man who’s arrived.  A guy who knows what he wants.  Fans of Mad Men will also see a successful man, albeit the vodka-before-lunch, womanizing, advertising mogul sort.

Sorry Roger, though the Lincolns all come with lots of cup holders, I’m afraid that ashtrays are an upgrade. (Image from theatlantic.com)

One look at Roger Sterling behind the wheel of that Lincoln and you just know that there are ample cup holders and reclining seats.  I have to admit, on some level I pictured myself driving home from The 21 Club with Mad Men sexpot Christina Hendricks draped across the passenger seat beside me.

Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks sitting right next to me in my Lincoln! Did I mention that all Lincolns come standard with dual airbags? Dunno why that suddenly popped into my head. (Image from askmen.com)

Perhaps it was my fear of having explain the busty, redheaded passenger to my wife, or maybe it was the test drives, but I went with the Acura TL.

I’ve been very happy with the car so far.  There is only one qualm really.

Recently, Acura has begun showing a new series of commercials, wherein unsuspecting characters are taken for thrilling rides in Acura vehicles, driven by the likes of loudmouth Dr. Phil and financial guru Suze Orman.  While I’m sure Acura’s ad agency has a good rationale for this new direction, it sticks in my craw to be driving a brand which has aligned itself with these two.  My gut reaction when seeing Dr. Phil and Suze is one of revulsion.  I’m not really a fan of either one of them, and on top of that, they each have “the connection” – whether it’s deserved or not, I perceive them both as darlings of one of my least favorite people, one Oprah Winfrey.

I’m praying that there’s no truth to the rumor that Acura will be replacing the voice in its navigation system with that of Dr. Phil. “You got to make up your mine an turn right onto Willuh Court! It’s time to stann-up fer yerself an do what’s right fer you!” (Image from dr-phil-blog.newsok.com)

I realize that many of my blog readers, particularly females, may take exception to my dislike of Oprah.  Sorry ladies, I just do.  I don’t dislike her because she’s a woman or because she’s black.  Nor do I dislike her because she loses more money in the cushions of the sofa at her beach house than I make in a year.  I just dislike her because I do.  I can’t explain it.  I imagine that it’s akin to the dislike a dog may have for a strange houseguest.  No matter how much affection the host shows the guest or how nice the guest may try to be, the dog just knows, on some visceral level, that the person is not to be trusted.  Given half a chance, the pooch will nip at them, or if possible, take a dump in one of their shoes.  If Oprah ever comes to my house, she damn-well better leave those stinky Jimmy Choo’s on her feet.

Ironically, it’s thanks to the brainstorming of some modern day Roger Sterlings that my beautiful, newish car has been disassociated from Megatron and tied instead to two of Oprah’s lackeys!  I’d be less upset if the Acura TL was named the official car of the Free Jerry Sanduskie movement.

I’m wondering if the trade-in value is high enough to allow me to put myself in the seat of a new Lincoln.