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Adding Insult
(2011-2012 Archives)
Lucki Melander Wilder

Lucki, I think we're kindred spirits on the advertising thing.  I notice many of the same little nuances,
and have often thought I should keep a notebook handy to write them down.  -- Tom Ligon, SF author

It's surprising (or perhaps not) how many times I see a "Say what?!" moment in TV advertising, and want to share the fun with someone (everyone?) else.

Feel free to email me to subscribe and receive notice of new entries, with feedback, or to call my attention to your own (un)favorites. Not all feedback necessarily appears in this page, and may be edited for links, typos, multi-source redundancy, and relevancy. That doesn't mean, though, that we consider negative feedback irrelevant or refuse to post it, as negative feedback can often help us learn to do more and better.

What A Crockett!

OK, I can't help it. I understand what it's about, that commercial. For the company that purports to help "self-directed" investors -- especially in America -- with online stock trading, long-term investing, and retirement planning. I even get, intellectually, the musical reference to being independent and a pioneer and a self-made man. But when the background music starts playing, I don't hear a word they're saying about how excellent their service is or how successful their investor customers are. (I assume that's what they're saying, anyway; but remember, I don't actually hear any of it.) Because the lyrics to the ol' Disney-series theme music they're using are ringing so loudly in my ears...
Davy Crockett stamp
     Born on a mountain top in Tennessee,
     Greenest state in the land of the free,
     Raised in the woods so's he knew every tree,
     Kilt him a b'ar when he was only three.

     Davy, Da-a-avy Crockett, king of the wild frontier.

And at first all I can see in my mind's eye is Fess Parker. Along with Buddy Ebsen in his pre-Jed Clampett / -Barnaby Jones days. Then my mind swiftly intermixes Parker's Davy Crockett with his Daniel Boone. Which leads me to the latter's Native American pal Mingo. Which immediately brings to mind the hilariously infamous Ed Ames tomahawk toss on Johnny Carson's show. (Yeah, I'm dating myself. I saw that ep back in '65, though. And it went on even longer and had more laugh-lines than Johnny showed in his look-back as he was retiring.) And I end up laughing so hard, I don't come up for air until long after the commercial is over.

Admittedly, the humor is juvenile. And I should be ashamed of myself. But there it is. The advertiser has spent beau coup bucks to get my attention, but their selling points are lost in the wind. OTOH, maybe it's worth every penny to them 'cuz, if nothing else, I do remember their name. That's assuming I'd ever be in the market to personally play the stock casino, of course.

You know, though, the Baha'i Writings warn us against gambling because, as I understand it, its primary purpose is to gain monetary advantage, even aggrandizement, by inflicting often crippling financial losses on others. Which, considering the recent Wall Street meltdown and resultant fiscal woes, sure sounds like a good description of playing the market, doesn't it? Especially for "the little guy".

Wed, Dec 19, 2012 at 5:10 PM, Judi wrote:
   liked the davy crocket tune with investments - that is where my mind is - the simple - take good care = judi
  Lucki responds to Judi :
   I find it very interesting that the older we get, the more skeptical we become of media advertising and the less skeptical we become of telephone "sales". That's apparently a big factor in why, for example, seniors seem most often targeted -- and, unfortunately, taken in -- by phone scams. Anti-scam campaigns repeatedly urge seniors that, if they receive a call from anyone they don't know trying to sell or even give them anything, they should hang up. Because no one can talk you into anything if you refuse to talk/listen to them. Never let someone pressure you about making a decision "now, today, this minute, limited-time offer!" Always ask, "If this is such a great deal for me, what's in it for the seller that makes this worth their while?" Thoroughly check up on them if they claim to be a charity. Don't respond to "lotteries" you don't remembering entering. Refuse to give anyone personal, Social Security, banking, or credit card info. And never buy or accept anything over the phone unless you are the one who initiated the call because of your own interest in the first place, period. Sounds like good advice no matter how old you are (or aren't), don't you think?

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Entries During

2012-12-12 What A Crockett!

2012-08-13 What's In A Name

2012-04-02 Nothin' Sells Like Scary
guest blogger: Tom Ligon

2012-03-31 Taxing Tidbits

2011-12-02 Tell A Phony

2011-10-22 Henpecks & Shrews

2011-09-23 A Real Quack-Up
2011-09-13 Our What?

2011-08-17 Guys' Buys

2011-06-16 What It Awn't

2011-05-04 Die Laughing?

2011-03-29 SIDE Effects?

2011-02-24 Yeah, So?
2011-02-19 Short Takes
2011-02-09 Can You Spell Bogus?

2011-01-20 I Should Think So!


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What's In A Name

Baby with bottle and coffee cupI'm not a big proponent of baby formulas. I don't have to tell you about all the scientific evidence for human mother's milk being the best food for human babies. Evidence abounds linking nursing to stronger immunities in infants. Less risk of childhood allergies and obesity. Lower incidence of breast cancer in mothers. The psychological bonding that takes place during nursing. And so on. I also don't have to tell you how devastating the pushing of baby-formula use in developing countries has been. I probably don't even have to tell you that I nursed my babies, but I will anyway. Not only nursed, but stayed away from all those jars of processed baby food, too.

Anyway, you've seen the baby formula commercials about "comfort proteins". Back when, the company who started intentionally including the fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA) claimed it was the only one who had these "comfort proteins". My reaction at the time was, "Sure you can say you're the only one with 'comfort proteins', since you came up with the name."

What happened, though, is that a competitor came up with a similar formula. And apparently got to use the same term to describe the same additives. So the first company could no longer claim it was the only one who offered them. Interestingly, it also could no longer claim that it was better than everyone else who offered them just because it offered them.

See, it turns out you can't make a claim of being the best when what you base your claim on is what everyone in the industry has or does anyway. I remember back in the day when one coffee company used to claim its coffee was the best because its coffee was "mountain grown...that's the richest kind." If I remember the kerfuffle correctly, the company came a cropper of the appropriate regulatory agency, and they had to recast their claim. Why? Because mountain-grown wasn't just the richest kind of coffee. At the time, mountain-grown was the only kind of coffee. All coffee companies per force used mountain-grown coffee. And you couldn't claim your coffee was better because it had or did what every other company of its kind also had or did. So, the company changed its slogan to simply say that the coffee was mountain-grown. It didn't claim that fact alone made its coffee better than anyone else's coffee. It wanted you to infer that, of course, and believe it; but at least it couldn't say it.

That whole case is moot now. Because modern cultivation techniques allow for one (the lesser) of the two main species of coffee to be grown on smaller slopes and even at sea level. But it was interesting at the time ... a learning experience for me in looking askance at advertising claims.

By the way, you do know, of course, that coffee beans aren't beans at all; they're berries.

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Nothin' Sells Like Scary

We are delighted to offer this guest blog entry by Tom Ligon, renowned author of award-winning science fact and numerous science fiction must-reads. Including arguably the best science fiction about Baha'is ever written by an author who isn't Baha'i. In fact, in Wikipedia’s "Baha'i Faith in Fiction" post-introduction section offering long, detailed descriptions of noteworthy works specifically influenced by the Baha'i Faith, Ligon is preceded only by Khalil Gibran, indicating how groundbreaking the beginning of Ligon’s Mazra’ih series was.

(In a curious aside: Bill Paxton wrote a Baha'i-inclusive Sherlock Holmes novel in which ***SPOILER ALERT*** Holmes has a high regard for the Baha'i Faith, knows of its peaceful and unified vision for all mankind, is aware of those imprisoned and martyred for the Faith, and assures the Baha’is being framed for murder that he believes in their innocence. *END SPOILER ALERT* Author Bill Paxton is not the same person as actor Bill Paxton, just as author Tom Ligon is not the same person as actor Tom Ligon.)

Without further ado, author Tom Ligon....

Have you seen the cruise line ad in which a couple – both, from all appearances, on tranquilizers – are staring blankly at the horizon over the railing of a cruise ship? There's a flashback to the previous year's vacation, both of them screaming in a car, which has a large bear on one side and a mountain lion on the other. Flash forward to the present again, as they vow never again to vacation that way.

Well, if that were my wife and me, we would pay extra for the treat of seeing the bear and mountain lion ... at the same time, no less. But I can see how some might find the close proximity a bit tense. Still, why not just drive away? Instead, the couple intends to open the windows and push out their food. So I'm back to my pet peeve of marketing to idiots by depicting idiot customers.

Of course, idiots are probably this cruise line’s last market, since thinking people will instantly recognize that the lion-and-bear scene is actually charming and not dangerous (if the windows are up), whereas this line’s recent cruises have resulted in a fatal accident with over twenty dead and a ship going dead in the water in pirate-infested seas. OK, this last is somewhat of an overstatement, possibly from a competitor’s advertising department; still, joining such a cruise is a lot scarier lately than visiting a National Park. Oh, and did I forget to mention norovirus?

On another topic, there’s the blatantly, even detestably, dishonest feline-named car commercial that pushes the “high concept” that there are terrible soulless machines out there that want to either be us or replace us but that their good-guy roaring machine is actually as alive as us. So this commersh not only values ludicrous myth over common sense, it devalues what it is to be alive.

Black-Phase PantherOn the other hand, there’s the advert for home insurance that features a “rescue panther” -– which could very well be a black-phase jaguar ("panther" being a generic name for many big cats, especially the ones with black phases). That one makes me laugh. Despite some inaccuracies and the customers again being dumb as stumps, the visual gag is great. Plus, this time the jaguar really is alive.

However, like the cruise-line ad, the rescue-panther ad plays to fear, and that is the underlying hook. Sad to say, it can be all too easy to shut off a person’s reasoning ability by invoking key words they’ve been trained to knee-jerk respond to. In other words, the key to shutting off reasoning is to raise fears. Lots of fears. Economic fears. Moral fears. Fear of being attacked. Fear about and of “the other”. What a burden!

Of course, the flip side is that people (and other living entities) from whom the burden of fear has been eased are notoriously hard to exploit. And to the advertiser, that makes them “bad” customers. Nor do I just mean those selling tangible product. Because if you want to follow political manipulations, watch what you are being taught to fear.

Thanks for reading my rant. As a final note, just to lighten up the mood again: If you find yourself taking medical advice from a talking bee, your allergy medication may already be too strong.

Tom Ligon

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Taxing Tidbits

It's once again tax season in the U.S., even if we have a few extra days this time 'round. My advice, though: Don't bother with all the ramifications of weekends, federal holidays (District of Columbia Emancipation Day? Really?), and so on. Just play it safe and get your return(s) mailed on or before April 14th ... after which, you can then go out on the 15th and celebrate: "Yay, taxes are DONE; let's par-tay!"

Anyway, have you paid any attention to the chain of tax preparation "experts" who offer to do your "simple tax return" for free. Yep, free. That'd have people pounding down their doors, don't you think? Who doesn't love "free"?

Of course, they are very careful to explain in their commercials exactly what constitutes "simple", right? They don't keep that a secret in their advertising, do they? They would never just get you in the door, start working on your return, and then tell you the sad news that unfortunately your return isn't simple and you're gonna hafta pay ... but of course they'll do a bang-up job and it's worth every penny they charge and aren't you glad they're there for you. Would they?

Do you suspect that maybe a "simple tax return" comprises the 1040A form and one W-2 that you bring them? That a third piece of paper ... any third piece of paper -- like a second W-2 from that second job you had to work, or a $9.39 interest statement from your bank -- or the need to fill in any "special" lines -- like, I dunno, the $104 you dropped in the basket at your 12-step meetings last year, or the calculation of how much deduction you get for your property tax payments -- makes your tax return "complicated"? I certainly wouldn't blame you if you do.

Federal Tax Form 1040That, dear readers, is called "bait and switch". It's supposed to be illegal; but if you think vendors haven't come up with a gazillion ways to skirt the law and rope you in hook, line, & sinker (if you'll pardon the mixed metaphor), you -- as they say -- have another think coming.

I'm not saying you shouldn't use tax preparers. I can usually do my own, but some years I encounter a complex situation that forces me to consult my tax attorney. In such cases, I'd be stupid not to. All I'm saying is: Don't get fooled into thinking you're going to get something of great real value for free, especially not from people in the business of making money off of your moneymaking. Remember: TANSTAAFL.

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Tell A Phony

OK, Earthstar Works may be a small, small business. It is a business, though, and we do pay attention to it, too. And I'll tell you, if I were the head office honcha on that dumb phone commercial, I'd tell my employees to leave their furshlugginer fruit-flavored digital devices at home or else.

Tin-can telephoneYou know the one I'm talking about, don't you? For the amazing hand-held 4G toy? The one with the mom who spends all her office time uploading baby pix. And the guy who spends his time building his fantasy team. And the hotshot gamer. And the social-networking mayor of the water cooler. And the chick busy bopping to the beat. And don't forget the golfer who scoots out to the links.

Hey, if the corporate bigwigs really think it's funny to promote their product by portraying that kind of work force -- and the welcome-mat supervisor who lets them get away with it -- how much confidence ought I to have in that company's work force? And management? And hence the quality of the product they produce?

And do I really want any of my colleagues -- or myself -- thinking that it's OK to use Earthstar Works hours for such personal drivel? (Not that they would, but you catch my drift.)

Plus which, it strikes me as just a bit (or maybe more) of a dig -- intentional or not -- at the working middle class. And that's really uncalled for ... if all too prevalent in today's social and economic and political atmosphere. Just saying.

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Henpecks & Shrews

What is it anyway with advertising agencies and their clients thinking it's just so wildly funny to portray dysfunctional marriages. And dis one or the other gender in them?

Back in August, I protested the blanket portrayal of men as silly. This time, I'm getting sick and tired of supposedly humorous commercials about shrewish wives and henpecked husbands and no doubt as to who rules the roost (and the rooster). Lemme give you a few examples.

There's the guy on a nighttime call to this agent. His wife implicitly accuses him of being on the phone with some "other woman". Even when she gets the phone, asks what the agent is wearing, and gets an "um, khakis" response, she immediately assumes it's an ugly female with a gravely voice.

Startled roosterThen there's the guy who happily announces to his gardening wife that he got a mobile phone feature for the whole family. Only to have her deflate him with caustic comments about his spending bunches of money without even consulting her and she shoulda listened to her mother and married this other suitor. Even when hubby explains that it didn't cost an extra cent, she just stands there not apologizing.

And don't forget the guy who hears his wife talking on the phone about all this tasty stuff she's been eating. And he goes to look in the refrigerator to see what she's talking about so he can maybe get some for himself. Only, the minute she asks him what he's doing -- not like she wants to help, you understand, but more like he'd better account for himself -- he comes up outa the fridge looking like a deer in her ophthalmic headlights.

So you tell me: Is it just me, or do you also not want your kids (and grands) looking at these things and getting the subliminal message that this is how marriage works?

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A Real Quack-Up

OK, I admit it, I've often enjoyed the supplemental-insurance duck commercials. Not that I've ever been a big Gilbert Gottfried fan, but his exceedingly irritating voice was absolutely made for that commersh. (Too bad he got himself dumped for, shall we say, "insensitive" tweets about the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Still, successor Daniel McKeague has been stepping up. He's not Gottfried, but then who is? Even Gottfried probably isn't always that Gottfried. Then again....)

Yeah, they've been fun. Only, the latest one -- the one with the rap song -- is also sorta creepy ... and I don't think Kaplan Thaler actually planned it that way. (If they did, shame on them.)

So there's the American family with the injured guy. And there's the spokesduck and the major medical pigeon. And there's also the two frogs and the robin and the three nestlings and the worm, all of whom have lines of one sort or another.

So, the first thing that rings a little weird is the robin. I swear that's a female voice; but the robin is obviously a male, 'cuz the females don't have those really bright red breasts. Plus which, it's the males who sing, not the females.
Happy worm

But that's minor. The big creep-out is the happy little worm. As soon as he's delivered his "safety net" line, the mama/papa bird feeds him to the kids. Hey, is that any way to treat one of your actors? It's practically cannibalism (except, of course, that cannibalism is eating one's own species). Granted that they're just, like, you know, acting. You don't actually see the worm die on camera. But those pipsqueaks are definitely pecking, and it's just kinda creepy.

It gets even creepier at the end of the ad when, oh look, there's a worm inching along to the beat. What's that about? Are we supposed to believe it's some kind of zombie worm? Or ghost worm? Or that they hired another worm for the finale? And if they did, did they tell it about the first worm getting snuffed?

Book - Jaggers & ShadInquiring minds want to know.

P.S. Besides the general fun, there's another reason I'm fond of the ads. It's 'cuz a friend of mine has written a string of SF stories about what the duck does for a living after his company gets taken over by another. The new guys decide to stick with their old spokescritter (the little thief I talk about in my first ever Adding Insult entry). The duck gets redundancied. And he joins Interpol to earn his cheese and quackers, so to speak. The friend is Barry B. Longyear, and the series is Jaggers & Shad (now in book form; most stories originally published in Analog).

Thu, Mar 15, 2012 at 11:19 AM, Tom wrote:
   Even more recently, the duck is in a rowboat with two men, one telling the other about his marvelous supplemental insurance so he never has to worry. The boat begins springing leaks, which the duck promptly patches with various body parts.  All this time, the two men ignore the situation and keep chatting.
   If there is one class of commercial I absolutely hate, it is commercials that depict the customer as an idiot.  I do know Madison Avenue does believe we're all idiots, but they could at least hide it better.  If these two get into a boat that leaky and don't even attempt to row to shore when it begins to take on water, they need more than the duck to protect them...and should learn to worry.
   These commercials are all about pocketing money when you are hurt or sick. They don't talk about what they cost (presumably you foist that off on your employer), or on what they don't cover (like, say, actual medical expenses, or leaky rowboats), just on having cash handed to you.  They also cover up the fact that most of us full-timers do have provisions for continued income, including sick leave and longer-term income guarantees.  They appeal to our greed.  I think they are fundamentally dishonest, and a very bad message.
  Lucki responds to Tom:
   Yeah, Tom, I've seen that one, too. And I totally agree about ads that assume the customer is stupid. OTOH, when you think about it, the "stupid" customers are the ones they want, if "stupid" equals asking no questions and thus being swayed by all the hyperbole and glitz and glitter masquerading as reality. In "Adding Insult", I'm kinda aiming to get people to pay attention to a slippery little "innocuous" detail or stereotype or unethic here and there. So that we all get in the habit of noticing them and going "Aha! Look at that hook hiding in all that bait." Just trying to get my readers to look askance at something. With hopes that we'll all get practice at looking askance at everything.
   I gotta admit, tho, as I did in the entry, that the major fun in the duck commersh for me was the mental connection to Barry's series.

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Our What?

OK, this one isn't about a television commercial. This is about a telephone commercial. One I got just a few minutes ago. It was from the NRA. They're doing a "survey" ... I use the term loosely because that's not what they're doing. They're riding their well-armed hobby horse. Touting their party line. Using their "survey" as an excuse to wax frothical about the latest perceived attack on their machismo. And to weed out the people they don't want to waste money on calling any more. So I answered their one-question survey "NO" -- even though the way they phrased the question made it absolute garbage -- just to not be bothered with them any more.

I dunno, maybe that was a mistake. Maybe if I'd answered "YES", they'd think I was one of them. And they'd waste more of their money calling me. And, in the process, give me a heads-up about the other stupid stuff they plan to do. So I can work against it where appropriate. But hey, it all just seems too partisanly political for me to get involved in. Plus which, I'd've been lying.

Anyway, they were all het up about the UN wanting to have a global gun-ban treaty. And their diatribe-following question -- which, of course, exactly repeated the buzzwords in their diatribe -- went pretty much like this: "Do you think it’s all right for the United Nations to be on our soil attacking our gun rights?"

Say what?! Our gun rights? Even more egregious: Our soil?

Conventional armsIn the first place, the UN Arms Trade Treaty Resolution the White House is supporting -- and note that this is not said treaty, this is simply a resolution to hold a conference on the matter in 2012, which concept has been kicking around for more than five years now -- this is actually about the import and export of conventional arms across national borders, not about gun possession or ownership. And excuse me, but the Second Amendment does not protect unfettered trade in guns. (I personally don't think it protects the unfettered right for any Tom, Dick, and Mary to privately "bear arms", either, but that isn't the point here.) For more history, see this FactCheck article.

But even more to the point, the UN HQ is not on "our" soil. The US doesn't own that land. The UN does. That land is not part of the United States; the US simply surrounds that land. (I'm very familiar with this concept. The City of Chicago completely surrounds two other side-by-side municipalities: Norridge and Harwood Heights. The fact that they seem to be IN Chicago doesn't make them part OF Chicago. Chicago doesn't own them; they own theirselves. People in sprawled-out LA are also familiar with this concept. So are people in Rome re the Vatican. And Canadians re lands owned by First Nations. Etc.)

According to Yahoo Answers (bolding mine): "The site of UN Headquarters is owned by the United Nations. It is an international territory. No federal, state or local officer or official of the United States, whether administrative, judicial, military or police may enter UN Headquarters except with the consent of and under conditions agreed to by the Secretary-General of the Organization."

"On our soil attacking our gun rights"? Yeah, right. Don't you just love any "company" whose commercials repeatedly lie to you to sell you their particular brand of bushwah?

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Guys' Buys

You know that insurance company that buys you stuff? Like, dream stuff? So this guy's wife calls them about his telling them thank you for buying me stuff. And the insurance company says we didn't buy you no stuff. And the guy says yeah you did, 'cuz you saved me money on my insurance so I could buy somethin' else; so you bought me stuff. And all the while, them walking down the street while talking on the phone about how the insurance company bought the guy a falcon, they're going by other guys with other dream stuff.

FalconSo besides this guy with the falcon, there's a guy with a cockatoo. And a guy with a moose head. And a guy with a giant gumball machine. And a guy with a pint-sized flivver. And a guy with a jukebox. And a guy with a saddle. And a guy with a sailfish. And a guy with a tuba. And a guy with a viking helmet. And a guy with a suit of samurai armor (but, oh hey, he coulda bought a FALCON. And ... well, you get the picture.

But did you notice the pattern there? All guys. So, does that mean that the company sells their insurance only to guys? Or that only guys get a discount that allows them to buy dream stuff? Or that only guys are silly enough to buy all that silly dream stuff? (Which may be the thinking; but in the spirit of the equality of men and women, this woman protests the stereotyping of all and only men like that.)

BTW, see if you see any other patterns like that when you watch the commersh.

P.S. If you wonder where I've been for two whole months, here's the skinny (I use the term loosely).

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What It Awn't

It ain't only what they don't say. It's what they do say that's so very precise it just screams of exclusions we're not supposed to notice.

One prime example is the patio awning commercial. The announcer pointedly assures us that the whole thing is assembled in America. Which, of course, is supposed to appeal to our patriotism or jingoism or some such. So we'll fall all over ourselves to, you know, BUY AMERICAN.

Patio AwningBut think about what that very precise word "assembled" means. What it means is that the parts are manufactured elsewhere. In another country. A country that isn't America. All those manufacturing jobs have been, apparently, shipped overseas. (If they were ever here in the first place.) And what's left for workers here is the scutwork of putting all those shiny, new, relatively inexpensive pieces together.

How exciting. How enriching. How ennobling. What a wonderful rung on some American worker's career ladder.

Oh, it's not? Sorry.

Don't get me wrong. In this global economy, it shouldn't be unusual that people everywhere have the opportunity to work. Nor should it be unusual that workers take pride in whatever they do, wherever they do it. And heaven knows I'm happy that some Americans are getting jobs out of this. I wouldn't begrudge them for a minute.

But, business moguls, don't pretend you're not burning tons of hydrocarbon fuel to get all those parts here from Far Elsewhere...or even Far ElsewhereS. Don't pretend your factory in Far Elsewhere is paying workers a decent wage. Ensuring their safety. Caring for their environment. And so on. And don't try to con us about buying American when we're really buying Terran.

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Die Laughing!

Okay, it's cute in a way. But if you think about it, it totally comes apart at the seams. That car insurance commercial that warns you not to get stuck with a cheap repair job. The one with the rattlesnake and the hare.

RattlesnakeSee, there's that totally awesome viper and this cringing little lagomorph. Only, said serpent somehow lost its rattles (it happens) and hasn't molted yet to start forming new beads. But smartysnake had an idea. It apparently purloined a baby's rattle and had said toy installed at the end of its tail to make its characteristic scary sound.

Well, Brer Hare ain't impressed. He laughs. In fact, he laughs so hard he falls over. And all his buddies come out to see what's tickling him so. And they start laughing just as hard. And Ol' Snakeyes crouches down and wraps itself around and lids its eyes in abject embarrassment.

Or so we're supposed to believe.

Well, excuse me, but I don't buy it for a minute. Embarrassed? If I were that rattler, I'd be in snake-in-the-grass heaven! I'd shake that booty for all its worth. And scare me up a whole bunch of dumb ROLFing bunnies. And crouch down too, all right. To launch a strike against as many of those guffawing glorified rodents as my fangs could reach. Have me enough food to last the rest of the year. Yeah, you jumpin'-jack jokers, LOL my hss.

SF author Tom Ligon and timber rattlerThu, Mar 15, 2012 at 11:26 AM, Tom wrote:
   The attached black-phase timber rattler was actually pretty good-natured about being poked with a golf putter, but did leave with a little encouragement.  Never batted an eyelid, probably because it has none.  But it did inspire a logo for my retirement business.  I should note that we have no rabbits.

Rattlesnake Ridge Research banner


Lucki responds to Tom:
   What time of day was it, Tom? Was ol' rattlebottom possibly lethargic from a low ambient temp or something? I mean, I can see it's warm enough for shorts and all. But was the ground still cool from overnight or something?
   I have some friends who keep rabbits; but in Chicago that's pretty much an indoor job unless you don't mind them ending up on someone else's table. OTOH, both when I lived in the in-law above my son's home and now here in my own home, we get the occasional nice bumper crop of wild hares. (Even accidentally caught one in a trap one morning when I was trying to catch the 2nd raccoon and send her off to the forest preserve where the 1st one had been taken.)


  Fri, Mar 23, 2012 at 9:10 PM, Tom wrote:
   The rattlesnake was not cold, just a laid-back West Virginia rattler...In general, pit vipers seem to understand that biting something our size, and way too large to eat, is not worth the risk.
   You once used the term "adder in the garden" when commenting on a story of mine.  I smiled when I remember how I react when I hear some horrid person described as a snake. I consider the comparison unfair. I like snakes, and so does Stan Schmidt.
   Assorted Technical Expertise is an established Sole Proprietorship in Virginia, but Rattlesnake Ridge Research does not yet exist except for that banner.  I hope to correct that in a month or so, possibly an LLC, after checking with a business consultant.  I will be working on a web page for it, and enhancing those already done for ATE, but I suspect I'm at least two months out from those being presentable.
      Lucki responds to Tom:
   I like snakes, too. As I bet you can tell from the tack I took in the blog entry. I remember my first young schoolyard prank of picking up a garden snake & chasing a classmate boy with it. Much to the consternation of the teachers. (Girls mustn't act like that, you know. Especially way back in the '50s.)
   Also fondly remember teaching my son, when he was six, not to be afraid of "slimy" snakes. [Oooh, I feel an Abiding Blog entry coming on. Thanx, Tom. Check it out.] Years later, he in turn got a "reptile wrangler " for his young daughter's first big BD party and the guy brought a huge yellow albino boa. Due to her age and the situation, I didn't have much time to teach Mya about snakes. But she and I did agree that we really liked the boa because one of its spots was shaped just like a Valentine's heart. Every little bit of fear reduction helps, don't you agree?
   And I have certainly betimes argued (persuasively, I hope) that the "serpent of Eden" was not so much an agent of evil but an agent of change.
   BTW, lemme know when you're happy with your ATE / RRR website(s) and we'll add them to our
Portals Quilt.

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SIDE Effects?

Been watchin' a commersh that seems to be all over the air (and space and wire) waves lately. It's for a product that's supposed to help you quit smoking. Not a nicotine substitute. It's what they call a "smoking cessation aid".

Now, I smoked for about a quarter century. Seriously tried to quit twice. Finally made it on the third try. Cold turkey! Because back then they didn't have all these fancy patches and gums and pills and whatnots to help people battle the addiction. Not that I didn't have help. I did. But that's another story.

Anyway, I'm watching this commercial and it says you can continue smoking while you start to use this product, but eventually it'll reduce your urge to smoke. Hey, that sounds good, right? And don't get me wrong; I'm all for helping people quit.

But then, it starts telling you about the "side" effects. I'm not going to list them all (plus which, I checked a descriptive website and there are even more than the commercial lists). But they include things like:

  • changes in behavior or mood
  • hostility
  • agitation
  • depression
  • nausea
  • irritated skin
  • trouble sleeping and "unusual" dreams (is that a euphemism for nightmares?)
  • suicidal thoughts or actions while or after using the drug

Crushed cigaretteNow I may be totally off-the-wall here, but doesn't that all sound a tad like withdrawal? Remember, I quit cold turkey; I know from withdrawal symptoms.

This drug helps by having you go through all the same withdrawal symptoms you'd probably have if you went cold turkey? Going through withdrawal pangs really aids you to cease smoking? (Of course, once you've gone through it, maybe it'll help you not want to ever start up again and have to go through all that a second time around.)

Excuse me, but isn't it likely that people with the commitment and the network of moral supporters and the higher-power connection to go through all of that can do so without drugging up on something else (expensive) along the way? Or am I way out of line here?

As an aside, if anyone who's contemplating quitting would like me to share with you what I learned and did that helped me through, please email me.

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Yeah, So?

Have you seen the take-out pizza vendor claim that they “went all the way to Rome to surprise real Italians with our new Tuscani lasagna” on hidden camera. As we watch a room full of people enjoying this new "catered" dish as if it didn't taste or chew at all like, I dunno, cardboard.

Do you notice what it doesn't say, though.

Pizza delivery manIt doesn't say:

  • that they’re actually showing Rome,
  • that those on camera are (the) real Italians, or
  • that this is what they really said.

And even if all of that is actually true, just ‘cuz a camera is “hidden” doesn't mean:

  • that they don't know it's there,
  • that their words aren't scripted,
  • that they aren't actors, or
  • that they're not being paid.

After all, the term "real people” includes actors. They’re not robots, animation, CGI; they’re “real”. So what? Big woof!

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Short Takes

Movie clapboard #1Let's see. First there's the lady wandering around the house fingering things ... until she encounters her facial tissue. "Touch -- touch -- touch -- touch -- touch -- touch -- feel." Creepy. What, does she have OCD?

Or the foodie who asks why, if the sirloin’s not the king of steaks, it's the only one we have to call "sir”.  Cute, but you don’t call a king “sir”; you call him “sire”. “Sir” is reserved for the lowly knight and baronet (who not only aren't royalty, they aren't even peers of the realm).

Then there's the blurb for "Coraline: the best movie I've seen in 3D." Hmph, isn't that sorta damning with faint praise?

And what's with the kid taking down the trash in the stretchy bag? For starters, why doesn't the trash can have a cover (ick)? And secondly, why is he putting the (stretchy) plastic bag inside another (can-liner) plastic bag?

And how about the guy touting that book The Alcoholism and Addiction Cure: “We’re not a 12-Step program and we don’t believe in the disease concept.” Come on, if it’s not a disease, then how can you have a cure?

Speaking of addiction, there's also the satellite TV company commersh with the three guys on a couch and two of them are holding an "intervention" for the guy with cable. Sheesh, is that honestly funny in a society where so many people are embroiled in real life-or-death intervention-necessary situations?

And every time I see a guy eating a Twix Bar, I guess I gotta assume he's a jerk, a liar, and a cheat?

Finally, whatta ya mean: "Eco-canteen"? Isn't that a frickin' thermos?

On the up side, though, there's the Liberty Mutual ads. I like that in the pass-it-on concept, it's a bystander, not the recipient, who passes it on! 'Cuz, ya know, we never know who's gonna see us do something and follow our example. But it will happen. Like, most likely, with our kids. So it behooves us to set the best example we can at all times, don't you agree?

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Can You Spell Bogus?

Have you seen that there shoe-store commercial? Actually, it's a string of commercials that have been going on forever. And they keep touting the same offer as if we were too stupid to figure out that they're slyly lying to us.


Shoe Shopper...they proclaim, in big block letters. Now, where I come from, the acronym BOGO stands for Buy One/Get One. Period. End of sentence. No further qualifiers. You buy one, you get another one as a sort of "gift" for buying in the first place. (Not that anyone really believes the two pairs of shoes actually cost more to make and sell than you're paying for the one pair anyway, right? We all understand what that says about their markup in the first place, yes?)

So is this "Buy One/Get One" offer what the shoe shovers actually mean?

Not on your life. Or your pocketbook. What they mean is: Buy One/Get One Half Off. So you're not getting 100% off on the second pair; you're only getting 50% off on the second pair. Half. Excuse me, but isn't that

B O G O H O ?

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I Should Think So!

So there sit the little greenie and its boss, having just had a lunch meeting or whatever. And the boss is trying to figure out where in blazes his spokeslizard manages to stash a cell phone on its person (loosely speaking). At which point, the waitress comes by with the check and distracts the boss. And when he looks back to the table, the reptile has also pulled out a wallet and is fingering through it to pay the bill. "No, no, sir, I've got it," it says, or words to that effect.

Closeup of a live geckoAs well it should, the little thief. Yeah, I said "thief". This is the same creature, you understand, who not too long ago was in its boss's empty office, saw a dollar on said boss's desk, and stole said dollar to go buy itself a snack. And when the boss got back and was looking for that first dollar he'd ever made, 'cuz he wanted to show it to his favorite little employee, does the brazen sneak own up to its purloinery? So that maybe the boss could go out to the vending machine and try to have his special dollar retrieved? His special dollar that, considering his age, is probably an irreplaceable silver certificate, to boot?

Nope, the spokespickle looks all innocent (well, tries to, anyway) and offers the boss a crisp. As if the boss hadn't just paid for the whole bag in the first place.

I dunno, do I really want to buy insurance from a company that thinks a little thievery on the side is OK?

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