Great Commercial Series – Chevy Camaro Graduation Gift

Sometimes, commercials aren’t just ads for products, sometimes they’re entertaining funny little 30 second stories. (Image from article.wn.com)

You’ll likely recall this one if you ever saw it.  A dopey high school senior gets a graduation gift from his parents.  The gift is a sad little dormitory refrigerator which Mom and Dad have festooned with a ribbon.  The gag is that it’s sitting in front of a shiny yellow Camaro convertible.  The kid, who we’ve already pegged as a little dopey, sees the car and mistakes it for his graduation present.

While the premise of the ad is simple, it speaks to us on many levels.  As parents, we realize that our ideas of gifts, while grounded in the necessities of finances, may not jibe with the preferences of our kids.  There is also a certain common sense to the parents’ choice of a dorm fridge – you graduated from high school, Tommy and you were lucky to get into a state college.  Those two facts merit a small appliance, not a muscle car.

We can recognize the unrealistic nature of youthful optimism.  Kids clearly have little if any idea about the cost of a brand new car.  The neighborhood setting of this comic tableau is decidedly middle class.  This is where working people live, not the rich folk who would possibly buy their child wildly generous gifts for fairly pedestrian achievements.

The commercial succeeds because the incredible high of a cool new car is not lost on any of us, despite the fact that we will have to deal with payments, insurance and higher and higher gas prices.  Mr. Johnson, the neighbor who the car actually belongs to, understands these things, but he is still financially solvent enough to be able to go play a round of golf.  The director cleverly leaves out the potentially awkward act of Johnson putting a full bag of golf clubs into the trunk of the Camaro before he drives off.

This commercial works for me because it speaks to so many things which have nothing to do with a Camaro.

Alright, enough of these commercials, I’ve got featured presentations to write about.

Great Commercial Series – Cars.Com

Welcome to the second installment of the Great Commercial Series.

Today’s feature is the Cars.com ad, with the singing second head.  The first, and in my humble opinion, best one of these is the one where a seemingly normal guy is talking to a car salesman, when a smaller version of him pops up from behind him singing about which car he wants.  The man is wearing a brown jacket and tan turtleneck.  His mini-head is perched on the top of an arm-like appendage which comes jutting out of his back.  The mini-head is wearing the same brown jacket and turtleneck – so adorable in an “Alien” sort of way.

Where exactly do you get a skinny brown jacket without arms?.. and sorry brudda, mini-me’s looks better than yours (Image from shoppingblog.com)

The guy appears somewhat embarrassed by his micro-cephalic alter ego, which he introduces as his “confidence”.  The mini-me head has no regard for his larger twin as he dances around on his long neck and belts out his cocky, arrogant choices of cars in a soul falsetto (Considering the tiny size of his head, maybe the falsetto isn’t so false).

In another one of these ads, a woman with a massive bouffant hair style has a miniature version of herself emerge from her tresses and sing a Natalie Merchant kind of ditty about her desire for “this car, no no not that one”.  Recently a new one showed up with a curly haired guy playing a harmonica above the head and under the hat of his host.  While those commercials are good, neither one touches the first one for entertainment value.

The beautiful part of this ad is that everyone can identify with the little head with the desire to sing about getting what they want without any qualms.  We’ve all got a second head of our own, and we can hear them singing if we try.  They belt out “The long-line at the grocery store blues” or the heavy metal classic “Geriatric in the passing lane and your blinker’s on for 7 miles” and of course the rap classic, “You got something in your teeth, fool“.

Here’s a link to the commercial on Youtube.  Use the back button on your browser to come back to this blog to give me your comments and likes, or I’ll grow a second head out of my ear and give you another piece of my mind.

Looking So Hot in Them Silver-Blue Britches

There are two types of pro football fans; the ones who love the Cowboys, and the rest of us, who hate everything about them.  As if to rub salt in our wounds for any success they’ve ever had, some knucklehead once christened them “America’s Team” – a misnomer if ever there was one.  Fans of other NFC East teams will attest that it is in fact, un-American to be a Dallas fan, even if you live in Texas.

So, it was with a great deal of humor and a healthy dose of schadenfreude that I read about the latest controversy in the land of Romo.  Apparently fans of the team were greeted with an unexpected surprise when they clicked “cowboys.com” on their browsers.  It turns out that cowboys.com is not a exactly a pipeline to America’s Team.  It’s actually a gay dating site, dedicated to the Brokeback Mountain set, who are looking for a special guy in a Stetson hat.

The chaps aren’t metallic silver-blue, but you gotta love the hat. Git along, little dogie! (Image from gratuitousscience.com)

Likes: Camp fires, sleeping under the stars, show tunes.

Dislikes: Pushy people, replacement refs, the guy in the Village People who dresses like a Redskin – I mean really,  feathers?!  Girl -that’s so 1980’s!

Quite simply, this is the kind of thing that Dallas Cowboy haters everywhere will savor and laugh about for decades to come.  Sure you guys have Super Bowl rings.  Sure you have a shiny new stadium that’s bigger than the entire town of Pine Bluff, Arkansas.  Before you brag any further, let me say these three words to you: cowboys dot com!  The team I root for may be under-achieving again and headed for another disappointing season, but at least no one confuses them with a gay dating site. Not to imply that there’s anything wrong with gay dating sites, they just don’t go especially well with the National Football League – kind of like pairing a crisp Pinot Grigio with a Denny’s Meat Lovers Breakfast Combo.

My favorite team’s owner, who’s as filthy rich and detested as every other team owner in the NFL, had the good sense to buy the rights to anything and everything, including websites, which he could possibly parlay into profit and/or publicity for his business…I mean team.  I don’t know how the Cowboys let this happen.  I’m guessing that Jerry Jones, the team’s owner and self-appointed El Presidente for Life, has already fired several people in the social media and IT departments over this little golden turd.

I can just picture him, furiously waving stacks of money in the tiny offices of the website.  A vein is pulsing on his forehead as if the Giants just blocked what would have been the game-winning field goal.  Perhaps he’ll send one of his underlings to do his bidding.  Savvy deal-maker that he is, I’m thinking that he’ll choose that guy Dale from accounting.  Tell him to dress up as if he’s going to a hoedown and walk in kinda bowlegged, like he has an Appaloosa tied to the hitching post out-front.

Can’t you just picture it?

Dale saunters in through the swinging doors, orders a bottle of red-eye and tips his hat to the cute guy playing the pie-annie over by the poker tables.  The room hushes at the appearance of the tall, handsome stranger in the metallic silver-blue chaps with the shiny star.  He tosses a dollar coin to the piano player and asks him to play “sump’n purdy”.  Shocked by his generosity, the musician bites the coin to test for authenticity and then asks the cowboy in the glittery drawers what he’d like to hear.

“Play me some Ethel Merman if you know any, if not, Liza Minelli will do,” he drawls.

As the piano player launches into a medly of songs from “Gypsy”, the cowboys in the room resume their hollering, drinking and line dancing.  The handsome stranger picks up his bottle of red-eye and walks back to the table to sit and discuss business with the domain owner, a chubby feller in a black hat with a little too much wax in his mustache to be from these parts.  There’s a big burly guy standing behind Ol’ City-Whiskers – must be the hired muscle.

“I didn’t know we wuz bringing pets to this here meeting” Dale says, his steely glance showing no fear of the bear of a man.  “If’n so, I’da brought a coupla O-linemen from the practice squad”

He stands and stares at the hired muscle.  “Why doncha run along, son?  Pa and Little Joe are waiting fer ya back at the Ponderosa.  They’re likely worried sick bout ya by now”

City-Whiskers turns and nods to the mountain of a man and he reluctantly leaves, but not before giving Dale a look.  Ooo, such a look!

Dale smiles thinly and sits back down.  He pushes his hat back on his head with two fingers to the brim and pulls the cork out of the bottle with his teeth.  He pours a shot for Ol’ City-Whiskers, then takes a swig right out of the bottle himself.  It’s time to get down to business.

The deliberations are short and not so sweet.  City Whiskers makes it plain that he’s not changing his site name.  For the record, he’s not selling his land for pennies on the dollar just to make room for no dang railroad, neither.  Dale angrily rises from the table and tells him that he aint seen the last of him, not by a fer piece he aint.  He stalks out of the saloon, hops in the saddle and gallops back out to the Jones’ ranch to tell the boss man the news.

So yeah, my team might not be so hot, but Dallas fans know in their hearts that every away game for the next several years will include something witty about Cowboys.com written on a bed sheet hanging from the upper decks.  The cameras won’t likely show it, but the fans will see it and have a good chuckle.  Sarcastic T-Shirts will be worn, bumper stickers will be printed.  Not all victories show up in the win/loss stats.

As for the website, I wish them well.  Hopefully the massive surge of hits the story has generated will propel them to huge success.  Everyone deserves the right to find a date, including lonesome gay cowboys.  Giddyup!

Snow White, Some Dwarfs and A Million Pieces of Coal

It’s clear that Hollywood is pretty well tapped-out when it comes to new ideas.  Heaven forbid they consider coming to WordPress and looking for some fresh writing talent.  Instead, they’ve rehashed a fairy tale and added a generous batch of special effects to spice it up.   I know my loyal readers will point out that I recently did the same thing with the Three Little Pigs in my erotic opus, Forty Seven Shades of Pink.  In my defense, no one is paying me buckets of cash to write anything, original or otherwise, and I didn’t actually use any special effects except the pigs being able to dress themselves in lingerie.  Let’s face it, they could already talk and build houses so that’s not exactly a quantum leap in believability.

It’s all in the wrist: you swing your broadsword thusly and…Boom! Nothing but a pile of coal where the knight used to be. (Image from Hotnerdgirl.wordpress.com)

I don’t have too many clear memories of my early childhood, largely because it was a long damn time ago.  I’m told that my parents and grand parents read me fairy tales from time to time.  Though my memory is admittedly a tad vague until early puberty,  I’m pretty sure I would have recalled the part in Snow White wherein evil doers are sliced in half with swords and immediately turn into a million chunks of digital coal.  I certainly would not have forgotten a witch who looks like Charlize Theron, spins in the woods and turns into a swirling flock of ravens like some bad-trip, M.C. Escher print.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I haven’t actually seen the new Snow White movie, and I likely won’t.  I’ve seen the trailer a couple of times, and that’s more than enough for me.  The special effects certainly looked dazzling enough, but to be honest, when you’ve seen one evil henchman reduced to a scattered pile of black rocks, you’ve pretty much seen them all.

Fairest of them all?! I mean it’s really, really close! Hottest of them all? Well, yeah, it’s still realllllly close. Do I have to choose? Maybe we could get that guy out of the picture so I could focus?  Thanks, dude…why don’t you take 5 and go grab a coffee or a danish, I got this.  (Image from justjared.com)

Compared to most fairy tales, the traditional storyline of Snow White is not particularly reliant upon special effects.  There’s an evil witch with competition issues and a talking mirror.  The mirror tells her about a more beautiful woman, named Snow White (we’ll save the speculation about Hitler youth ideals for some other blog).  The wicked witch can’t deal with being the second fairest of them all.  She fails in putting a hit out on Snow White who escapes into the woods, eventually shacking up with seven miners who happen to be dwarfs.  The queen hunts her down and slips her a poison apple which puts Snow White in a coma.  Aside from the talking mirror, there’s absolutely no reason for special effects in the story.  I’m pretty sure I’ve seen  talking mirrors on sale at Bed, Bath and Beyond, in case you’re interested in getting one of your own.  Bear in mind, those sassy bitches are on the clearance rack for a reason.

The new movie, if the title is accurate, focuses more on the early part of the story and the huntsman’s role as failed hit-man.  Certainly there is room for the character to deal with the turmoil of his task.  Again, no real reason for additional special effects, unless the film makers decided to go with the miniature angel-huntsman on one shoulder and the little devil-huntsman on the other, but I didn’t see that in the trailer.  A quick consult with some blog writers and we might have had the angel-devil on the shoulders scene, but nooo, those big wheels out in Hollywood couldn’t be bothered.

See? We could put these on the Huntsman’s shoulders, or on the Queen’s. As long as these she-devils/angels aren’t fairer than Charlize. These two might not be tied for 4th, but they could make the top ten, depending upon the kingdom. (Image from reviews.partycity.com)

Obviously, Snow White as a story doesn’t really need special effects, gratuitous or not.  Another part of the problem is the special effects themselves.  With the advent of computer generated imagery, the wonder of special effects is no longer wondrous.  Once upon a time, movie-goers would speculate for days about “how’d they do that?”, scanning the edge of the screen for tell-tale silouettes of wire or looking for the zipper on the back of the Godzilla suit.  Today, we don’t even bother wondering how the magic happens.

I know how to use my computer like a typewriter to write these dopey blogs and to look at porn research online.  There are hundreds of thousands of twelve year olds people who can do so much more with a computer than me.  They can do things like make Spiderman swing from buildings or create dog-beasts from thin air to chase the last few Hunger Games contestants to the final fight scene.  Hell, computer experts can even see about getting me an upgrade on my airline tickets (though they can’t consistently get me an emergency exit row or bulkhead seat).  I would love to say how much I appreciate their facility with the keyboard and mousepad, but as long as Spidey doesn’t break up and freeze into a pixilated mess of red and blue, midswing, I don’t even notice their work.

Sorry Hollywood, adding a bunch of eye candy and razzle dazzle is no way to fool us into thinking we didn’t already know this story line since we were 4 years old.  Now when “Jack and Jill, Terror Hill” comes out, I may have to change my stance and go see it.  Rumor has it the scene where Jack breaks his crown is incredibly gruesome, plus we finally get to find out what a crown is.

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemon-Scented Garbage

I was watching TLC the other night and saw several commercials for “Craft Wars”.  For those of you who have enough of a life to have avoided seeing the commercials or TLC itself, allow me to describe what this craft competition show will apparently be about.

“Hi Tori! By the way, I’m a big fan of your work. Oh…Okay, well anyway, this piece is my interpretation of a happy jack-o-lantern. It will make a great door hanging or as seasonal decoration. The crooked grin gives it a touch of whimsy!” (Image from blog.craftzine.com)

Three contestants are given crafting supplies including all the hot-glue sticks and glitter they could ever hope for.  Then, the host says “Your time starts…NOW!”  The crafter-contestants, who by their very existence make me feel like a superior life form, all scramble across the set to get to the bins of crap that they’ll be making “crafts” out of.  This is essentially the same format that’s used on shows like “Top Chef”, “Design Star”, “Chopped”, “The White Room Challenge” and countless others.  As if watching these scrap-booking, swatch-pasting zealots isn’t bad enough in and of itself, the whole thing is hosted by massive has-been mega-talent, Tori Spelling!  The description above was gleaned from my having viewed a 30 second commercial several times, while I was busy watching some other inane offering on TLC.

It’s truly effortless to sit here and complain about what passes for entertainment these days.  I mean, they make it so easy.  So I sat down to write my rants about just that, but then a deeper thought occurred to me.  With the recent celebration of Father’s Day, I was reminded of what my Dad used to say;

“Turn off that damn idiot box and go cut the grass, dammit!”

Oh wait, wrong Dad quote.  He also used to say;

“If you’ve got a problem with it, then come up with something better or shut the hell up!”

Good point, Dad (My Dad didn’t actually curse that much, but I sure as shit do).  I put on my thinking cap and came up with some programming  ideas of my own.  I’m going to email these ideas to TLC, NatGeo, HGTV, Bravo and A&E.  They’ll be welcome to use any and all of my ideas without having to pay me a dime, but I do want the title “Creative Consultant” and a link to my blog in the opening and closing credits.  Here we go:

The Rolls Royce of Eternal Rest – this baby is a serious upgrade.(Image from Jawdrops.com)

America’s Next Top Mortician – Three morticians are given a challenging stiff to prepare for a viewing and funeral.  They will each have a fixed number of hours to fully prepare the corpse for interment.  Some of the challenges will include pushy, unrealistic family members who want Aunt Bessie to look “more life-like”, ill-fitting clothes for the deceased, and convincing the family they should pay for the up-graded casket.  Finally, what final-rest competition would be complete without the hearse-obstacle course?

Janitors Got Talent – Everyone knows at least one janitor who insists on singing or telling jokes while pushing brooms and emptying trash cans.  Here’s a chance for janitors to shine like freshly scrubbed porcelain!  Each contestant will have to demonstrate their unique talent while brushing toilets, running a floor buffer and refilling the soap dispensers in the women’s bathroom.

Cryo-Bank Tellers  24/7 – This gritty, up-close slice of reality will follow the challenges of round-the-clock employees at a St. Louis sperm bank as they deal with the crazy demands of such a bizarre work environment.  Hand held cameras will follow them throughout the facility with copious amounts of digitized blurring of clients faces, specimen jars and more!  At least once every episode, one of the tellers will lament “The sign on the door said ‘Unoccupied’, Geez I hate when that happens!”  Hilarity meets revulsion when new staff members are pranked and directed to put their lunches in the wrong refrigerator!

Bus Wars – Broad Street Local – Parking Wars meets Cash Cab as Philadelphia’s public transportation passengers are asked impossibly difficult trivia questions.  Contestants are frustrated, angered and embarrassed to realize they can’t possibly win any money.  Tempers flare when the contestants realize that the host/driver has ignored their stops while waiting for one of them to answer the question!

You turbo-charge this thing, put a chain guard on it and go to work. (Image from social.kidspot.com.au)

American Baby-Nose Pickers – Poor little Tyler and Brittany can’t do it themselves with their little bitty fingers!  Whether they use the squeeze ball, a Q-Tip or their own massive adult fingers, Moms and even Dads just can’t rest until that little hanger is out of their babies’ honkers.  The contestants will have to face tough challenges like booger-eating older siblings and the nausea of onlookers.  Tension builds as we close in on the final weigh-in!

My Biggest Fat Gypsy Rose Lee Loser – Theatrical directors and personal trainers team up to direct a community theater production of “Gypsy”, starring the morbidly obese who compete to lose the most weight while dancing and singing the hit numbers from 1959’s Broadway smash!  Wardrobe issues and self-esteem are on a collision course in this emotional competition!  Contestants are pushed to the brink when they have to keep their appetites and salivary glands in check while singing the lyric “..have an egg roll, Mr. Goldstone..”

That’s all I’ve got for now.  I’m going to go ahead and send the link for this blog to all those networks.  Keep your eyes peeled in the months to come, I think I’ve got a few winners here.  Listen up network execs, as promised, these ideas are there for the taking, and all I ask is the “Creative Consultant” tag and a plug for my blog.  Be warned though, my next batch won’t come so cheap!

Life Lessons From Gilligan’s Island

I recently found myself commenting on two seperate blog posts, about two very different topics within a few days of each other and making references to Gilligan’s Island on both comments.  It occured to me that I learned many of life’s important lessons from watching any number of crappy sitcoms, and Gilligan’s Island is certainly no exception.

For a bunch of people stranded on an island with no way home, they look pretty damn happy – let that be a lesson to you!  (Image from dvdsetcheap.com)

1. Given the opportunity, people will use technology for the dumbest possible reasons.  Long before we learned this the hard way through internet porn and Facebook, Gilligan and the Professor were using the available technology of coconuts, bamboo and palm fronds to the fullest extent of the materials’ potential.  Rather than use the technology to fix the boat, or make a water purification system, they chose to create things like automatic hammock swingers and for making the Howell’s a stock ticker which printed the Dow Jones on banana leaves.

and on a related note:

2. When faced with dire circumstances and a poor prognosis, people may focus on the wrong priorities.  Long before people squabbled over the rights to use a given pop song as the theme for a presidential election instead of frivolously wasting time on silly things like issues, Gilligan and company had paved the way for wasting time and resources.  The gang on the island would use their valuable energy to put on a show.  They’d build a stage and props so that 4 of them could entertain the other 3.  This sort of thing is still fairly rare in the real world, but in the realm of show biz it’s commonplace.  Still, we can learn from it.  The next time there’s a natural disaster, instead of sending medical aid and supplies, we should send footlights, greasepaint and boomboxes for musical accompaniment.

3. Running fast doesn’t always get you there quickly enough.  Instead you need to speed up the tape and make it even faster.  To clarify, Gilligan and crew didn’t originate this concept, the Munsters did it years earlier, whenever Herman scared someone.  Irrespective of who invented this incredible strategy, the truth of the matter is this; there’s no point in being careful to trying to accomplish things in an orderly, logical manner.  Instead, just run around and around really fast and people will become distracted by your foolishness and laugh at you.

Good news Lil Buddy! The Professor finished making the hot water heater for the showers!  (Image from Timstvshowcase.com)

4. Having your heart in the right place counts more than actually accomplishing something and/or forgiveness is a noble thing.  Gilligan screwed up the group’s chances of getting rescued multiple times.  Though the Skipper would take off his hat and smack him with it, eventually, he would realize that Gilligan’s heart was in the right place and all would be forgiven.  So don’t worry about succeeding, just try your best for all the right reasons and some big Sandusky-looking guy will forgive you and call you his “lil buddy”.  Nothing creepy about that.

5. Change is not good – change sucks the big one.  Despite their time stranded on an island, not one of the castaways changed.  Ginger remained a primadonna, the Howells continued to value money and status over everything else, Maryann stayed the sweet, innocent farmgirl she’d always been and The Professor never got horny, no matter how hot Ginger looked in that shimmery, skin-tight dress.  Let this be a lesson to you.  If those people didn’t change why should you?  Keep being the same knucklehead you’ve always been, it suits you.  Besides, you only risk a drop in the ratings by trying to improve yourself.

6. As long as we’re on the topic of change, there’s no reason to change your clothes either.  A long sleeved red shirt and bucket hat is a good wardobe for the tropics.  Find a fashion which works for you and stick with it exclusively – don’t be mixing and matching like Ginger and the Howells, stick with your first choice.  Personally, I’ve been wearing these MC Hammer genie pants for going on 20 years and they still turn heads, so I know this one is a stone cold fact, yo.

7. Diversify, diversify, diversify!  People looked at Thurston Howell III and envied his massive piles of money.  A closer look revealed that that while the rest of the castaways were looking for pretty shells and running away from headhunters, TH-III was rocking out voice work for the politically incorrect, but always humorous Mr. Magoo.  Life lesson, if you aren’t happy with your station in life, get your ass to work at a second job!  Once you’re rolling in cheddah, go score some rich debutante like Lovey, then ride that gravy train straight down Easy Street.

8. Despite being seperated from loved ones and presumed dead, you can still have lots of fun. As detailed above, the wacky castaways wasted relatively little time trying to get rescued and finding food and shelter.  Instead, they focused on playing golf, putting on skits, and getting into all sorts of zany hijinx.  Gilligan’s Island taught us to be happy, regardless of the circumstances.  Now go back out there to your own miserable little island and try to have yourself a few good chuckles.  Be sure to wrap things up within a half hour or so, minus commercials and the credits.

Manon Kubler – Is that Samoan for “Reader With Great Taste”?

At the tattoo parlor, they told me this means “courage, faith and eternal happiness”, but the guy at Peking Gourmet said it meant” Shrimp in Szechuan Sauce with Snow Peas”. (Image from checkoutmyink.com)

A week or so ago, I got a notice that a blogger named Manon Kubler wished to re-blog one of my earlier masterpieces.  The post was my biting commentary on the government’s attempt to make bullying illegal, though truthfully, it could have been any of my blogs, they’re all just so damn re-bloggable.  I’m doing the noble thing and not putting a link to that post in here – go over to the right border later and click on “Bully For You” if you want to read it.

As an absolute whore for blogging popularity, I was more than happy to give Manon Kubler the green light to reblog my work.  I figured his scores of loyal fans would read my post, and maybe a few of them would join the fledgling ranks of my followers.  I won’t build a massive loyal following overnight, but small moves like being re-blogged could add up over time.  One complication of it all was that everything Manon wrote in his comments was in a foreign language.

At first I was too flattered to care what he had written.  He had given me exposure to some new readers and I didn’t have to do crap’s worth of work to get them.  That’s a win-win in my book.  After a while, I got curious to see what his comments were.  As my loyal readers can both tell you, I only speak English and not all that well.  My writing is only slightly better than my speech, as I have the luxury of editing and sounding the words out in the privacy of my own home before I hit “send”.  Curious as to what Manon had to say, I went to a few translation websites and started putting some of his words in there, but they didn’t get translated to English consistently.

The words looked kind of Spanish, but didn’t all get recognized by the Spanish translator website.  Maybe he spoke Portuguese or some regional dialect like Catamaran or Pekinese.  After a solid five minutes of trying, I was as stumped as ever.

I do have limited experience with foreign languages.  Occasionally, I’ll be in the home of Spanish speaking clients.   Many of these people have the Spanish television channel on at all times.  The Spanish station around these parts is very entertaining to watch.  Most of the women on it bear a resemblance to Sofia Vergara, only a bit sexier and they tend to dress more provocatively.  They teeter across the screen in 5 inch pumps with skin tight skirts and low cut blouses barely covering their impressive chests, blathering on and on about God knows what – because they’re speaking Spanish.

EeS gonna bee cloudy tomorrow and…are chu even leestening to me? !?  Eye’s up here you steenky dog! (Image of Mary Gamarra from tvallure.com)

If the woman on the screen is standing in front of a weather map and gesturing wildly with her blood-red painted nails, one might assume that she is talking about a tropical depression off the Carolinas.  I tend to provide my own custom translation wherein she is talking about how handsome I am and wishing she had me alone in a deserted vacation home in Hilton Head.  If the woman is holding a microphone as she stands in front of the burned out shell of a rowhome, I naturally assume she is describing how her desire for me burns within her like the flames which displaced a family of four in Brooklyn last night.  As you might imagine, many of my Spanish-speaking clients get a little pissy with me since I tend to ignore them and just watch their TV’s.  There’s just no pleasing some people.

Zee Rerun, he is zee genius, no? Ow ee wearz zee beret and zee sus-penderz! Hees comedy eez, how do you zay, “what eez appening”    (Image from celebslist.com)

It should come as no surprise then, that I have decided to interpret Manon Kubler’s words with meanings of my own choosing.  Here’s the gist of his words:

Manon has written that he and his thousands of avid followers have recognized me, even before my own American countrymen, as a stone-cold genius – kind of like the French did with Grampa Al Lewis and Fred “Rerun” Berry.  I am the next Ernesto Hemmingwayo in their estimation.  Beyond seeing me as a literary giant in the making, Manon’s followers have essentially deified me into something like a cargo god.  They feel they are not worthy of my incredible talent and only read my words on the sabbath.  In the event that I ever deem it necessary to travel to the South Pacific island paradise they call home, I will be greeted in a manner worthy of a spiritual master, descended from the heavens.  Manon didn’t come out and say it, but I’m pretty sure there will be a nice buffet with a roast pig and some of those fancy drinks served in hollow coconuts.

I’ll admit that I may have taken some poetic license with Manon’s words, but if he didn’t want to risk misinterpretation, he could have written his comments in English, or possibly Pig Latin.

Grandparents Gone Wild

I looked at my computer this morning.  It was rife with tons of delicious new posts from many of my favorite bloggers.  The only difficult challenge was going to be figuring out who to read first.  So many authors, such unique points of view!  Before I could make a decision on which author would get me started, I caught a glimpse of a strange looking woman on my screen.  She bore something of a resemblance to Al Jolson in blackface wearing a blonde wig.  Apparently the woman had been arrested after taking her 5 year old daughter into a tanning salon with her.

I knew in my heart that I should have been reading the latest literary artistry of the Byronic Man, or looking to see if The Paltry Meanderings of a Taller Than Average Woman had posted part 2 of her hysterical description of the yoga experience.  Yet here I was scanning this sordid bit of scandal sheet fluff for gory details.  Of course, it was devoid of much information beyond the unbelievable headline and comical photo.

Before I could get back on track to read the blogs, I was transfixed by the horrific story of the hang gliding accident where a young woman fell nearly 1000 feet to her death.  Upon landing, the pilot ate the memory card from the on-glider camera!  As tragic and unreal as the story was, until the laxatives take effect, there’s not much more to report.   I knew that up-and-comer Shut Up Dad would be writing again soon and I really should start my day with a laugh and a sarcastic comment.  Dotty the Headbanger is always good for a bizarre taste of her mental corner of the UK.

Despite my best intentions, I was grabbed by yet another outrageous headline.  After picking up my jaw off the counter, I glanced at the clock and realized with a start that I was running late for work.  Muttering to myself, I grabbed my lunch and headed out of the house.  Instead of starting my day with the humor and creativity of k8edid, I had read a story which gnawed at me like a caraway seed lodged between my molars all day.

(Photo from The Smoking Gun)

Apparently, a pair of grandparents, ages 47 and 49, were accused of drinking, driving and towing their 7 year old grand daughter down the street in a Barbi Ferrari at speeds of 5 to 10 milers per hour.  They had tied a couple of dog leashes to the toy car and the other end to the trailer hitch on their SUV.  They were arrested and charged with a variety of offenses.  When the police contacted the little girl’s father, he showed up and was verbally abusive to his drunk mother.  As if this story wasn’t disturbing enough, the son had disrespected the woman who brought him into this world!

Instead of spending my carefree morning chuckling to myself over the quirky musings of some of my favorite writers, I was stuck thinking about “Grandparents Gone Wild”.

I tried to wrap my head around it.  Drunk grandparents – towing their precious 7 year old grand daughter without so much as a knee pad or a helmet.  It was nearly impossible to really grasp it.

Maybe part of the difficulty I had was due to my family history.  I couldn’t help but recall my own grandparents, with great fondness and nostalgia.

My Dad’s parents did some driving, especially my grandfather, who drove countless miles across the midwest as a salesman.  His wife, a petite, elegant woman, drove far less, and usually required some sort of extra cushion beneath her to see over the steering wheel in her cat-eye glasses, pumps and stylish dress.  We lived on the east coast and didn’t get to see them as often as we liked, but they would always share the love when we did.  My Gram made wonderful chocolate chip cookies and my Grandaddy would always slip my brothers and me each a 10 dollar bill at some point during their visits.  He had incredible stories which I believed to be factual, despite the time honored family tradition of being bullshitters.  In retrospect, the key seemed to be to weave the far-fetched ones in with actual family history.  We all loved Grandaddy’s stories, partly because of the stories themselves, but just as much because of the way he told them.   For all the miles he drove, I’m pretty sure he never towed any of us behind him.

My Mom’s parents were quite different.  That grandfather was a quiet man.  He’d had many jobs, all of them requiring hard work and long hours.  He’d been working since he’d been twelve or possibly younger.  Grandpa was not the type to talk about his life or how many years he’d worked;  I had to get that information from my mom and Nanny.  Nanny was the outspoken, extrovert of that couple.  Grandpa enjoyed a well made, dry martini.  Just one, savored with a cigar and The Asbury Park Press.  He knew a little bit about how a well made martini should be made, as he had tended bar for years at the Elks Club in Red Bank, New Jersey.  He understood drinking too;  he partook of spirits in an almost  reverential way.  I never saw him have more than one martini, and I certainly never saw him drunk.  My grandmother preferred a Jack Rose, an old-timey drink which included Apple Jack and sour mix.  She too, never had more than one.  Her vice of choice was not alcohol, but sundaes with some of the most improbable combinations of ice cream flavors, syrups, toppings and fruit.  I won’t describe them further, as her taste in sundaes is worthy of an entire post of its own.

I don’t remember seeing any of my grandparents intoxicated.  Not even tipsy.  They drove for work and to get their errands done.  To get from one place to another.  Throughout my childhood, young adult years and beyond, they’ve been a presence for me.  I’m not always aware of the strength I draw from them, or how their presence continues long after their passing, but today I’m feeling connected as I recall each of them.

I’m not entirely sure what kind of grandfather I appear to be to my own grand daughters, but I hope they feel the love when they think of me decades from now.  I’ve been pretty lucky to have many good examples of grandparenting around me, including my in-laws and my own parents.  A couple of weeks ago, my oldest grand daughter and I surprised my wife by putting a birdhouse up outside the window where she often sits with the girls.  I wasn’t shooting to make a memory, but I might have anyway.

None of this really relates to the folks in the SUV in Florida.  Essentially, I had squandered a morning’s readings of some very creative ladies and gentlemen to be lured by the garish headlines of idiotic behavior.  It might have been a total loss, had I not jogged my memories of those four grandparents of my own.

It’s a shame what passes for grandparents in some quarters these days.

Bully For You!

There’s a movement afoot.  The government is trying to outlaw bullying.

There are cynics among us could argue that the United States government knows an awful lot about bullying, having perfected it as an art form over the past couple of centuries.  For the record, I’m not one of those government bashers.  Unlike scores of celebrities and pro athletes, I pay my taxes and drive within 10 mph of the speed limit.  Seriously, I’m a good citizen, there’s no reason to audit me, none…whatsoever.

As long as I’m making disclaimers, let me get this one out of the way.  There have been tragedies, recently and over the course of modern civilization, due to bullying.  Lives have been lost, and lives have been ruined.  The following bit of writing is not making a mockery of those people who have been impacted horribly by bullying.  If you’re concerned about being offended, please stop reading now, you don’t even have to click the “Like” box.

Butch from The Little Rascals. Was he a bully, or just misunderstood?
(Image from thorninpaw.com)

A quick show of hands; has anyone here been bullied?  OK, let me say this;  either quite a few of you are amputees, or you have repressed memories.  Let me help you remember;

If you have or had an older sibling, you’ve very likely been bullied.

If you have more than one older sibling, you’ll almost certainly need counseling for the bullying you suffered – please sign up on one of the clipboards in the back of the auditorium when we break for lunch and someone will get back to you.

If you played organized sports and weren’t the star of the team, you were probably bullied.

If you didn’t play organized sports, you may have been bullied by someone who did.

If you wore glasses as a child and you weren’t a bad ass, please don’t forget the clipboards in the back.

If at any point, you had bad skin, you were likely bullied.  If you never had bad skin, you’re a damn liar, and you should be in the damn liars group, they’re down the hall in 3-A.

If you spoke with a lisp, a funny accent or had braces, you were likely bullied.

If you had a pulse, grew up in America and actually had social interactions of some sort, you were likely bullied.

Obviously, we’re going to need a bigger auditorium, and more clipboards.

Scott Farkus! He was a bully AND he's a ginger with braces. Surely he's been on both sides of the bully dilemma. (Image from Jean Shepherd's "A Christmas Story" - MGM)

Let’s have a little experiment.  Open the newspaper, or for you tech savvy types, your browser, and take a look at the movers and shakers.

Oh! Here’s one!  He’s one of the most powerful, rich and influential men of our time, Mr. Bill Gates.  Let’s take a look at Mr. Gates for a moment and envision him as he may have appeared as a child.  Now, let’s ask ourselves a hypothetical question: Was he the victim of bullying at some point in his childhood?  I’m going to go ahead and speculate that perhaps he suffered a wedgie or three in his early years.  Some of the more cynical among us might even speculate that it’s possible that Windows Vista is not so much an operating system as it is a gigantic F-U to the bullies of his childhood, who had to learn how to find their email all over again.

Here’s another guy, Mr. Steven Spielberg.  He’s got Academy Awards and the adoration of all of Hollywood.  He picks up his satellite phone and even creatures from other galaxies snap to attention.  Take a good long look.  Consider his career, he’s made movies like “Jaws” and “E.T.- The Extra-Terrestrial”.  Do we think perhaps Mr. Spielberg may have been bullied just a little, many years ago?  I’ll take the lead and guess that the answer is yes as well.

How about mega-best selling author, Mr. Steven King, or Oprah Winfrey?  What about Donald Trump?  For the record, I don’t necessarily think that Mr. Trump was ever a victim of bullying, but there are quite a few readers who would enjoy the thought of him getting a “swirly” with that hair of his.

So what if many of these people were actually bullied as children?  Even if we assume they were, what if they weren’t?  Would Bill Gates have been driven to do the things he did later in life?  If he had NOT been bullied, I’d likely be writing this blog on a stone tablet with a chisel and posting it in my front yard.  Would “E.T.” have touched our hearts so deeply if Spielberg had sailed through his early years without a single titty-twister?  Would Jonas Salk have invented the polio vaccine or written Braodway musicals if he had never gotten that wet-willy in 3rd grade?

You can see where I’m going with this.  Before you nay sayers, start saying “Nay” (so obvious, why not say something else – change it up a little?), let me finish.  I realize that Adolph Hitler was probably bullied as a child, I mean, look at that hair and his choice of mustaches.  I’m sure Charles Manson and Rick Santorum were bullied as well.  I accept that maybe bullying played a part in the creation of those people too.  Maybe it didn’t.  Maybe the evil of the world and the goodness of the world is there and it’s going to come out regardless.  For the record, I’m not condoning bullying – you leave your little brother alone mister, or you can forget about any dessert or parole!

So the government is going to outlaw bullying entirely.  They’ll effectively rid our culture of potential monsters and the youth of America will be able to grow up in an environment free of the unpleasantness of bullying.  Perhaps they can do something about skinned knees and splinters too.  Also, I never scored the winning run, goal or basket during my entire tenure in youth sports – can somebody legislate the pain away for me, please?

Right off the top of my shiny, hairless head, I can think of  a couple of major flaws with the premise of the government’s anti-bullying movement.

For one thing, government leaders don’t actually give a rat’s rear end about bullying.  The entire issue of bullying was just their “hot topic” of things to pretend to care about between elections.  Odds are they’ve already moved onto the next “big issue” threatening the American dream.  My guess is that the issue will be the increased use of pesticides in hair-care products currently being manufactured in 3rd world countries by out-sourcing American corporations.  Outraged bald Senators will clamor to appear to be spear-heading the issue.  The media will find some unfortunate souls with scarred but insect-free scalps to profile in hard-hitting news stories.  The whole thing will quickly fade, shortly after haircare and pesticide lobbyists descend upon the halls of power, not unlike rich, generous locusts with great hair.

Another flawed aspect of the anti-bullying legislation which no one seems to see as a problem, is that kids are pretty much immune to grown-up law.  There’s a story in the news every week about some 7 year old killing his babysitter, or a 9 year old pimping out his 6 1/2 year old sister.  Nothing ever happens to these kids.  The courts, which admittedly can’t even consistently convict guilty adults, are powerless at dealing with kids.  So the powers that be have put the onus of stopping bullying on school administrators, coaches and parents.  These people are trying to run schools, win games and keep up with mortgage payments – and that’s just the school administrators.

Mark my words America, by this time next year, we’ll all be too busy scanning the tiny print on our styling gel ingredients looking for roach poison to notice that little Jimmy is getting a purple nurple from that Thompson kid from up the street.

The Things You Don’t Do For Love

I'm such a hopeless romantic. Nothing says love like a nice drawing of the heart with annotations. (Image for USF.EDU)

I went to a movie with my wife the other day.  Between the fact that we already pay too much for cable and the brilliance of our flat screen TV, going to the movies is a fairly rare occurrence.  Still, the little woman had her heart set on it, so in the spirit of being a supportive husband, I got the keys and out the door we went.  I wasn’t overly eager to see this particular movie, as it had virtually no nudity or sophomoric humor in it.

We found two seats, on the aisle and near the back.  There was only one row of seats behind us, which were reserved for people with disabilities and their companions.  I briefly considered limping into those seats, but knew I’d feel really guilty if someone came in after me and toppled down the dark steps with their walker.

My wife and I got comfortable and watched the previews for upcoming attractions, all of which looked more exciting than the movie we were about to watch, and all of which had ungodly loud special effects.  Let’s face it, if the sub-woofers don’t physically shake the concrete floor of the theater, people feel cheated.

Before the coming attractions were over, I heard the two seats behind us become occupied.  Considering the massive amount of audio input I was receiving from the coming attractions, it was not a good sign that I could hear people settling into two seats over 36 inches away from my ears.

I dared not look back at these two people, preferring instead to entertain myself by imagining them throughout the course of the movie.  I’d then sneak a peak at them when the lights went up to see how close I had been in my mind.  I also knew that if I looked at them, I would be more tempted to start some sort of dialogue with them later in the movie.  Any conversation with these people would almost certainly take away from my wife’s enjoyment of the movie, especially if the people and I started cursing at one another.

One thing I could tell immediately was that both of them were overweight, but the man was in the worse shape of the two.  He had the labored breathing of the morbidly obese, with the added likelihood of being a longtime smoker who may have worked with asbestos at some point in his life.  He undoubtedly had sleep apnea, and I silently prayed that the movie would not be too boring, lest he doze off.  His breathing was such that every other exhalation he made a “Hhhmmf” sound.  As disturbing as it was, I realized how much worse it would have been if the movie actually had nudity after all, as the “Hhhmmf” had an almost pleasurable undertone to it.

Don't say anything....don't even look....just pretend they aren't there...try to focus on the movie....Uh oh, here comes another stupid comment! (Image by ChrisQueen.net)

It soon became readily apparent that the two of them could not imagine sitting through 2 hours of big screen entertainment without multiple boxes and bags of snacks.  The first course was definitely in some kind of cardboard box with an inner wax-paper liner, like breakfast cereal or Triscuits.  I was prematurely happy to hear the empty box fall to the floor 20 minutes into the movie.  My joy was short lived as I immediately heard the second snack being torn into.  It was in a type of crinkly cellophane wrapper and may have been sticky, as there seemed to be a small struggle to pry the food loose from the bag and/or itself with each handful.  It must have had some chewy goodness to it, as it elicited lip-smacking and denture sucking with each mouthful.  Finally, the third snack sounded like it was some small, hard food in an unlined cardboard box.  It rattled around in the box, as if these two were enjoying the un-popped kernels at the bottom of a popcorn tub.  Each handful would be accompanied by the sound of the few morsels which got away, rattling down the side of the box to be scooped again later.

People often eat in movie theaters, and it takes a good deal of willpower not to succumb to the lure of overly buttered popcorn and $5 cups of Coke.  If the couple behind me had just been big time eaters, I would likely be writing about some other topic, like what’s annoying me about Facebook this week, or getting to that Gluttony piece for the Seven Deadly Sins challenge.

Sadly, these two were not just movie theater gourmets.  In an unfortunate combination of binge eating and bad manners, these buffoons talked with food in their mouths, in a theater, during the movie.  As if the symphony of the two of them rooting through their stores of goodies wasn’t annoying enough, they insisted on guessing what would happen next, or worse yet, commenting on what we had all just seen happen, as if perhaps we’d missed it.

“They killed that guy” he said aloud, with a mouthful of tasty morsels nestled in his cheek, right after a character had been stabbed in the heart and lay motionless on the ground, with his eyes glazed over in a blank death stare.

“Uh oh, now they goan fight!” she predicted in her outside voice, her mouth packed with Milk Duds, as characters on the big screen in front of us began picking up weapons and looking at each other menacingly as the music swelled.

Throughout the movie, the two serenaded anyone within 20 feet of them with declarations of the obvious.  In between helping those of us who were too mentally compromised to follow along with the plot, he would say “Hhhmmf”

I silently wondered where the hell these two were when I went to see “Tinker, Tailor Soldier Spy”, I could’ve used some help with figuring that mess out.

Despite my overwhelming urge to turn and make some comment to the two of them, I kept my silent promise to my wife and said nothing.    At the end of the movie, I caught my glimpse and rewarded myself with an imaginary prize for being so close in my guess as to their appearance.  As a reward for my excellent behavior, my wife shushed me the whole way to the car.

Later, I couldn’t help but imagine the two of them, driving back home and showering each other with one obvious quote after another as they crept along going too slow in the passing lane.

“The light’s still green”

“Looks like the iHop is open”

“Those people in the theater were sure quiet”

In reality, they probably drove home in utter silence, having already used up all their small talk for the weekend.