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Adding Insult
(2015-2016 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.

Dress Rehearsal

Getting a raiseShe's good. She's employable. And employed. She works hard. Willingly. She's a leader. She even knows how to count. She deserves a raise. And she's going to ask for one.

Good for her.

You know what? She's even going to marshal her facts. And present them articulately. Persuasively. Which means she knows she needs to rehearse.

Good for her.

Wait. What? She's rehearsing (apparently for the first time, 'cuz she's still writing her opening lines) in the bathroom? At work? Without even checking that she's alone? But obviously disturbed to find out that she's not?

Why didn't she build her script and do her rehearsal - rehearsals - at home? Last night? Over the weekend? As long as it took to get it right before ever setting foot in the office. Even the office bathroom.

If she'd really prepped like that, maybe she wouldn't be feeling so stressed now. So maybe she wouldn't have to worry about whether or not her deodorant is coping.

'Cuz, you know, if you use the other guy's brand, you might not get that raise. Sheesh.

And if her relationship with her coworker there is so awkward, would the coworker really be going into you-go-girl instant-support mode? In the bathroom? Instead of ignoring what she overheard? Or snarking about it? Possibly. But it didn't exactly read true.

Sorry, advertiser, but let me let you in on a little secret: You don't show support of gender equality by making your lead look like an unprepared ditz.  Deodorized or not.

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Entries During

2016-12-17 Dress Rehearsal

2016-10-01 Of All the Gall

2016-09-09 Taking That

2016-08-18 Good, Bad, Ugly

2016-07-13 Remember When?

2016-05-20 Shorts Again

2016-04-30 Am I Correct?

2016-01-11 Ain't Technology...

2015-12-14 Thanks for Nothing

2015-11-30 Unsubtle Subliminal

2015-08-16 That's Pet-culiar

2015-07-05 Whose News?

2015-06-30 By Any Other Name

2015-05-31 Sorry Sorry

2015-04-15 What a Flop


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Of All the Gall

I sat on this one all summer long. I didn't want to dignify it with a response. But every time I saw it....

Summer's over. My disgust isn't. Usually it's the commercials that engage my ridicule. Or even ire. But occasionally, it's the actual product.

Or, in this case, the product branding. Rebranding.

No picture on purposeRename their beer after our admittedly imperfect but sometimes very great nation? Even temporarily? Who the hell do they think they are? 'Cuz they sure ain't MY America. (They're not even headquartered here. They're in Belgium.)

Talk about enough gall to be divided into three parts.

Yes, they weren't the first to use this kind of ploy. They won't be the last. Even if they were obviously among the most blatant.

And no, my little piece of America has no use for the product. Not even to rinse my hair, polish my pots and pans, unstain my carpets (which I don't actually have), or kill my garden pests. I'm not down with supporting an industry that so devastates lives. But that's just me, personally. I'm not telling you that you can't or shouldn't use the product. I'm asking you to look at the inexcusable labeling choice the company made.

Still, the sad fact is that this company tends to have some of the most engaging commercials on TV. So it's too bad they're touting - making, selling, profiting from - a product that directly devastates the lives of millions of Americans. Not only so many of those who use it. Also those who care about those who use it. Even sometimes those who simply happen to cross paths with those who use it.

Don't believe me? Fact: More than 10% of adult Americans have an alcohol-related disorder. Fact: Twice as many die of alcohol as die of opiate overdose. Fact: That doesn't even include the 1% of all babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome. Fact: Or the 20% of young people who start using alcohol long before any study of adult usage would even see them. Fact: Drunk driving causes two million collisions a year. Fact: Which result in about a quarter-million deaths per decade. Fact: Yes, nearly 30% of all traffic deaths are alcohol-related. Not just the drunk drivers, but also the other people - drunk or sober - that they take out with their DUI.

For too many, it's a killer. Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. As I know from experience. Believe me.

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Taking That

It does have a sense of humor, the new "You're Not Taking That" car commercial. I can definitely see why the parents are decidedly against their children taking:

International "NO" symbol= The nunchaku on his camping trip
= The long florescent lights for use as light sabers or quarterstaffs
= The skis for a downstairs run
= That "needed" spear gun and blowtorch
= A shaver for her sisters hair
= Her boyfriend on an outing with her BFFs
= The chainsaw
= The sledgehammer
= Command of the pressurized-tank nozzle, while wearing only a bandana over his nose while dad's in a full face shield

But after all that, I just don't believe it.

Mother gently restraining her childNever mind that Chicago's own Dante Brown looks almost too young to have his license. Us old geezers always think the kids look too young.

Never mind that he doesn't really ask to take the family's car; he tells his mom he's taking it.

Never mind that she just tells him to "don't be late" when it's pouring rain out there and just about any mom would start with "Okay, but be careful. And...."

No, it's the line they give Dante. "I'm taking the [brand name].


Do you say you're planning to turn off the Toshiba, get a Stouffer's from the Frigidaire and, while it's nuking in the Electrolux, throw your laundry in the Maytag? 'Cuz I don't.

How many cars does that there family own, that you have to ID which one you're taking by brand name? And even if they had a second car, or as many as Jay Leno does, wouldn't IDing it by its brand name imply that they only bought one of that brand? Which might make you wonder why. Which is the last thing the car company wants you to do.

That's my take on it, anyway.

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Good, Bad, Ugly

There are two commercials by the same insurance company. One for drivers. The other for renters. They follow the same pattern. We see what it's like to get something you want. And we see what's it like to suffer loss of that same thing.

The drivers are a teen-aged girl and an older suit.

Car - Hers is a surprise; his is strippedHer dad is giving her the car. She's ecstatic. Jacked up. She can't believe it. But it's real. They go to the insurance company and get the car insured. What a day!

He has just found his car jacked up. Stripped. He's distraught. He can't believe it. But it's real. He goes to the insurance company to place a claim. What a day!

Two different scenes.The same lines. Exactly the same lines. Just delivered differently.

The two Chicago agencies that put this together did a great job. So did lead actors Dani Vee and Peter Banifaz. The two characters have exactly the same lines. Just delivered differently. Very differently. Even their two supporting characters deliver the same lines. Differently.

So hey, if something works, do it some more, right?. That's the business model for TV, isn't it? Don't worry if the quality is as good; just hop on the bandwagon. Reminds me of the way Sinclair Lewis was wont to write. Make your point. Hammer it home. Then beat it to death.

So it isn't long before we see another twofer commercial from the same agencies. Same shtick. Only with people who love furniture.

Couch - Hers that he's about to stealShe's showing off her new suede sofa. When she saw it, she had to have it. Her BFF tells her it is SO-O-O her. She knows.

Then there's him and his running buddy. Same sofa. In the same room. Same conversation.

Again, two different scenes. The same lines. Exactly the same lines.

The only difference? The ladies are there during the day. The guys are there in the dark. The lady shows how she got what she wanted by waving her credit card. The guy shows how he's getting what he wanted by waving his crowbar. The lady's gonna get her insurance payment. 'Cuz she can. The guy's gonna get caught. 'Cuz he's stupid.

I mean, really?! What self-respecting burglar would risk all for a blasted COUCH? I don't care how suedy it is. And what underworld sidekick would go along on that caper and not raise hell when he realized what was going down? And what any two hardcore sneak thieves would utter lines like "so you" and "hafta have it" and "love suede", especially in the course of doing their midnight shopping? Balderdash. Just couldn't suspend my disbelief that much.

So there you have it. A hit and a miss. Just sayin'.

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Remember When?

It's a "sweet" commercial. Sweet sixteen, maybe. Rife with nostalgia. Daddy's giving his daughter the old family car. But before he does that, he wants to clean it out. Makes sense. Clear away the junk on the seats and floor, right? Wouldn't you?

Crayon, crutch, & flowerWhen he finds a white beribboned flower, he looks backwards in time to his high-school daughter dancing smoothly with a boyfriend - or maybe just friend-boy - at a party in the yard.

Before that, when he finds a pink hospital wristband, he looks backwards in time to his middle-school daughter walking stoically towards the house on crutches.

Before that, when he finds a reddish coloring crayon, he looks backwards in time to his primary-school daughter running happily from her schoolhouse.

Catch my drift? This isn't three daughters. This is one daughter over the years. And now he's giving her the car.

Like I said. Sensible. Sweet. Nostalgic.

One question.

When's the last time he bothered to clean out that car?

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Shorts Again

In addition to the short rants of yesteryear(s):

Have you seen the "You should negotiate more stuff; you're pretty good at it" commercial? Sheesh, could she get any more condescending?

And don't you just love when "being the best man you can" is visually defined only as "at the gym and in the bedroom"? I'm sorry, but I think the males of our species have brains and hearts and souls, too, and that's where their best bestnesses come from.

Hot air balloonSpeaking of guys: Hey, knight in shining armor, aren't you supposed to be a Brit? Yeah, well then, you're not supposed to ask for a w(r)ench. You're supposed to ask for a spanner.

And speaking of gals: Wait a minute, young lady with the programmer friends, are you sure it's not a competition? 'Cuz everyone, including you, is acting like it is.

In fact, speaking of people in general: When an ad says "X is not an actor", so? That doesn't mean they're not being paid or, for that matter, that they're not just acting (or at least reading a script).

Also, don't be fooled when they tell you "our competitor's med takes 24 hours to start working and ours takes 30 minutes." They're not talking about a competitor at all, 'Cuz their med is for temporary relief of a symptom and their "competitor's" is for long-term relief of its underlying condition. And if I had a chronic condition, I know which kind of relief I'd want when.

Last but not least: Yo, thin wheat chips, heating the air in your balloon should make it go UP, not forward.

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Am I Correct?

So the little girl asks "Am I cute?" She thinks she is. As proof, she points to her "custom-made" dimples.

This is a dimpleOnly one problem. No dimples. There are people in that commercial who have dimples. She's not one of them.

The creases at the corners of your mouth are not dimples. They're smile lines. And everyone has them. Dimples are those extra, stand-alone indentations in your cheek or chin. Not everyone has them. The little girl certainly doesn't. Not as far as I can tell.

It's not her fault. Nor is it the writer's fault. It's the fault of whoever cast her. The script plainly had the girl pointing to her own dimples. And talking about them. It was the job of casting to ensure that the actor fit the role. Didn't do that job. What really boggles my mind, though, is that no one on set with her - not director, not cast, not crew, no adult anywhere - pointed out the problem.

And neither did the homecare company who paid for the commercial. If they're that careless with what their ads say and show, do I really want to trust them to take care of my housekeeping? Or my elderly loved ones? Or me?

Besides which, as a mother, I didn't have to spend every waking minute playing with my kids to prove that I cared about them. I didn't even have to do that as a grandmother. Those parents are doing their job. Providing a safe and pleasant home. With their own hands. And that complaining little imp is old enough to be helping them.

Reminiscent Proud Mother Hijacks (Again?!) Curmudgeonly Column
By time Rey was that age, he was already helping with housework. We had a system called Tops and Bottoms. I cleaned tops. Tables. Chairs. Bureaus. Sinks. Counters. The stove. The fridge. All like that. Then he came behind me with a broom and dustpan - and damp paper towels, if needed - and cleaned bottoms. That is, the floors. Thresholds. Floor lamp pedestals. Picked up stuff left on the floor, like socks or the newspaper. That kind of thing.

At the beginning, he wasn't able to do a really good job of it. But as long as he tried his best, I let him know I was happy with the job. I might suggest or show him something that would make it easier for him next time. But I never, ever went back behind him and redid what he'd tried so hard to do. It meant we didn't have floors you could eat off of. (I still don't. I think he does.) But he learned the job and he took pride in it. He also took well earned little-kid pride in learning how to wash and dry plastic dishware. How to fold all our linens (yep, even big old sheets) and underwear at the laundromat. How to make his own pudding snacks in the simple blender I bought him. How to sew on a button. (Which last point stood us in really good stead one day at the hospital.) Little by little, day by day.

Broom & dustpanHe loved that blender, by the way. But the gift he loved the most, one year, was one that he bragged about to all his friends when they asked him what he got special for his birthday. And their unanimous reaction was, like, "Say what?!"

See, what he had the hardest time with, doing his half of Tops and Bottoms, was getting all the accumulated debris into the dustpan. Because the broom shaft was way taller than he was. Awkward to manipulate, especially one-handed. I suppose I could've gotten him a dustpan brush. But that'd mean he'd have to (a) put the broom somewhere and (b) bend over real far. One day, though, I saw this wonderful heavy, lipless, brown rubber dustpan with thick, non-skid feet that held the tray up at an angle. When you planted that baby on the floor, it didn't budge an inch. He could put it down where he wanted it, then use both hands to manipulate the broom. He was thrilled. His friends thought he was crazy. He didn't care. He knew something that made life easier when he saw it. Still does.

That dustpan lasted almost forever. Which explains why they stopped producing them. Can't even find an old picture of one. But that simple tool served for years even after Rey had moved to a home of his own. It's true what they say: They don't make 'em like they usta. (Oh, good, I ended up curmudgeonly.)

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Ain't Technology...

...GRAND?! I mean, boy, the things that whiz-bang technology can do? Bigger, faster, better. Well, bigger and faster, maybe. But when you start with a mess, you don't get anything better with new tech. You just get a bigger and faster mess. Or you at least get something that you probably don't really need in the first place.

Matt Damon in "The Martian"Don't ask me why I watched any of the Golden Globes. Denzel Washington, mostly. But the TV stayed on afterwards, and I swear this is true: The movie The Martian had been nominated for three awards and won two of them, and it was a mere 15 minutes after the broadcast that I saw a commercial to that exact effect. In other words, one of two things happened:

1. Picture that, for whoever made the commercial, it was economically and time-wise feasible to actually pre-create a complete commercial for every possible combination of wins from zero to three (that's eight combos in all). And then, as they watched the show coming to a close, they grabbed the relevant commercial from their library and got it off to everyone they'd already bought time from. OR

2. Picture whoever made the commercial sitting at their workstations, watching the show, their fingers on the buttons of a library of pre-recorded slide and video and audio clips covering every award the movie was in the running for. And, as each was awarded (or not), they pulled up and dubbed clips as needed. At show's end, they did a 10-minute edit of the result to fit neatly - not a second too long, not a second too short - into the time slot they'd already bought, and got it off to everyone they'd already bought time from.

Either way, all that fast and cost-effective techie goodness in less than 15 minutes. Not for, say, a national disaster. Not for, maybe, a medical emergency. Not even for an important news story. For a commercial.

Spike sings "Let Me Rest in Peace" to BuffyNow maybe sometimes such flexibility is good. Useful. At least fun. For example, in the old days, once a TV show had a title sequence in the can, it stuck with it come hell or high water. The best that might be hoped for was an upgrade at the beginning of each season. If the budget was squeezable. Work on opening titles - and, for that matter, closing credits - ate up too much time in uncomputerized post-production to mess with them much. If at all. Contrast that with the most recent past, when – oh, I dunno – a show like Buffy the Vampire Slayer could arbitrarily change their opening/closing for a single episode only. Like the Jonathan-as-lead ep "Superstar" or the musical ep "Once More, with Feeling" (the best musical episode of any non-musical show EVER). And that's not always bad.

Let me take you now to the thrilling days of yesteryear when TV was black-and-white, Clint Eastwood was arguably a sidekick, and once the film was in the can, you were stuck with it. No fifteen-second editing. If you couldn't fix it in post-production, you couldn't fix it period. And that fix had to be usable for just about forever.

The show was Rawhide and one of the characters (in over 100 eps) was a Mexicano wrangler named Jesús, played by Robert Cabal. He was always there, but he wasn't a lead. I suspect he showed up in the original production script as "The Wrangler" and the name got tagged in by the director or someone during filming. (Maybe Cabal himself sugested it, just to see what would happen.) All I know is that post-production apparently went a little wonky. I can almost envision it:

Hey Soos of "Rawhide"= Hey, what's that name they called "The Wrangler" by? If there's a name on the sound track, it's gotta be in the credits.
= Jesús.
= Jesús? How do you spell Jesús?
= Jay ee ess you-with-an-acute-accent ess. It's Spanish.
= Jay ee ess you...ESS?! That's Jesus! Jesus, man, we can't use Jesus!
= So spell it like it sounds: "Hey Soos". Who cares; nobody'll know the difference.

And there it was in the credits: Hey Soos. And once you have the credits, especially after your first broadcast, you're stuck with them. Of course, some people did know the difference. And some cared. At least nowadays no one needs to bother about any Anglo folks getting all bent out of shape over the Hispanic use of Jesús. (Do they?)

Oh my, sorry about hijacking this entry with all that info/rant on non-commercials. Stream of consciousness. It happens. I'll try to focus better next time.

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Thanks for Nothing

December 14, 2015I have just encountered one of the stupidest, most meaningless promises ever made in an effort to part you from your money. And it doesn't even come from a product-providing, profit-making company.

It came out today from the political campaign for a Presidential candidate who shall remain nameless. Which, in soliciting donations from potential contributors, solemnly promises you that if you just send in $25, the campaign will not contact you again for the rest of the year.

Wow, a promise to not bother you for 17 whole days. Gee whiz, ain't that special?

Just another vicissitude of Citizens United, I suppose. We're not only supposed to be dumb enough to believe money equals speech. We're supposed to be too dumb to count the few days left in "the rest of the year". Even though we can do it just using our fingers and toes. Yeah, well, even if I weren't Baha'i (and therefore not involved in partisanship, campaigning, or even publicly declaring my choice), count me out.

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Unsubtle Subliminal

Have you seen the "go like a pro" rental car ads lately? They're apparently going into their "more humorous phase". Which I'm very glad to see, the older ads being phased out. Because they started getting my dander up. You know, the old ones with all these high-powered business people in power suits. Well, all of them except the black entrepreneurial contractor and the white golfer.

So there's the not-so-subliminal image: Black CEOs just don't have "the power" that white business folk do. They're more like glorified country-club golf pros.

That's the sort of more casual (sometimes even unwitting, but that's no excuse), more subtle, systemic racism we're used to these days. The same casual, subtle, systemic racism that has "upkicked" black characters in TV dramas to supervisory slots. So that they're almost never in the forefront of the "action" but are relegated to supporting roles. Think Bones, think Castle, think The Mentalist, think NCIS, think ... oh, never mind, just THINK.

Black cat confronts white dogA finally, never mind the (reasonable) tirades against the black "awake" dog terrorizing the white "sleep" cat in the attic. I have a question about all those adverts, not just that one. Note elsewhere, for example, how the cat gets to sleep in the woman's bed, while the dog is relegated to a little dog bed on the floor. Note how the woman turns her back on the lonely-acting dog to go to sleep. Note how, even when it comes to beg for some attention in the daytime garden, she just looks at it dismissively. And given all that, here's the final question: Why is the nighttime cat pristine white and the daylight dog charcoal black? Wouldn't it logically be t'other way 'round? Just sayin'.

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That's Pet-culiar

Lynx with hareI'm all for trying to feed pets something close to their natural diet, assuming it's accessible and affordable. Which sometimes, with the best will in the world, it still isn't. But gimme a break with all these pet-food adverts that make such claims.

For starters, house cats are not descended from lynx. They're not only not the same species, they're not even in the same genus. In fact, house and other small cats evolved from totally different predecessors than all four extant species of lynx.

Wolf with hareSecondly, I'll grant you that dogs did descend from wolves. But what's this about feeding your dog the chicken, duck, and salmon that wolves love? Goodness, when's the last time you saw a pack of wolves herding a flock of poultry or a school of fish? No, they naturally go after herbivores on the hoof, hey, or at least on the paw.

Finally, there's the cat food I actually do buy for its grain-free content (Silver being allergic to cereals) and protein richness. Despite its laughable claim that, being made with roast venison and smoked salmon, it represents the natural diet of pumas and bobcats and such in the wild. Really? Roasted and smoked? So, what, the only time those wilderness cats eat is after a forest fire barbeques their deer and fish for them?

Wow, must be a long time between meals.

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Whose News?

I'm tired of blatant commercials masquerading as something else. They're bad enough in fictional TV and movies. But...

Getting the NewsDid you see the story about 70-year-old hiker Liu Quanming and his "ancient" cell phone? He fell into a ravine, dropping the phone in the process. However, it didn't break and its charge lasted for the five days it took for searchers to trace it to where the man was trapped.

What made this whole episode front-page news, though, was not the rescue per se. It was the fact that the phone was a whole ten years old. Really? That's what made it newsworthy? That's how we define "ancient" now? And that's how surprised we are that a vital piece of equipment was actually durable and power-efficient enough to do what it did? To act like it was supposed to act? To stay in one piece? And stay on?

Broadcasting the NewsThis to me is the same kind of "news" we got back in May about Cheryl Treadway. The hostage who used a pizza chain app to call 911. The interesting thing right away was what you didn't see. You saw talking heads deliver the "news". You saw a pizza shop employee interviewed. You saw a cop interviewed. You did not see Ms. Treadway interviewed.

So who do you think called the media with that story? Who got their name and logo "up there in lights"? (Oh, and let's do be sure to get that app-use story out there, folks. So that no one else in danger has the chance to surreptitiously use such an app for such a purpose ever again.)

For that matter, wanna bet who got the cell phone story out? Which side do you want? The hiker? Or the company that now owns that brand? Talk about product placement.

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By Any Other Name

Boy, when they come up with a marketing coup, ya gotta say it's a marketing coup. You don't gotta like it, but ya gotta say it.

The most common color of natural diamond found in the world is brown. Yeah, brown. Like, I dunno, um, mud? And, um, mud(?) is not exactly what you'd associate with clarity and beauty and opulence and all like that. So forget about using them as gemstones. All those "off-color" diamonds were essentially relegated to industrial uses. 'Cuz who'd want, um, mud-colored diamonds in their jewelry anyway.

And then, someone had a bright idea. Some marketing genius figured out a great scheme for separating you from lots more of of your money. Let's don't call them mud-colored. Let's don't even call them the plain ol' color they are, which is brown. Let's call them chocolate. Chocolate is rich. Chocolate is opulent. Chocolate is beautiful. Chocolate is romantic. Chocolate is desirable. Chocolate is addictive. From now on, they're Chocolate Diamonds! (That's a registered brand there, folks.) 'Cuz, you know, a rose rock by any other name....

And suddenly, we started seeing commercials from jewelry stores touting their oh-so-special inventory of jewelry from "the only company on earth to make jewelry with chocolate diamonds". Well, yeah, when you corner the market by assessing the top 5% of brown diamonds mined to find the most jewelry-worthy, and then you brand them with your own trademarked name, you get to say you're the only company on earth etc. (Remember "comfort proteins"?)

Good work if you can get it. Creating a lavish market for an item that's been around and ignored and cheap for ages. Just by tweaking the name.

By the way, I think the largest cut and faceted diamond in the world now is brown. Called the Golden Jubilee, it weighs in at a hefty 545.67 carats and is valued in the millions. (The biggest rough diamond ever found is the 3,167-carat black Carbonado do Sergio. But that's uncut. And it's almost certainly of meteoric origin. Heavens, I'd kill - figuratively - for just a shard off that baby. Note To Self: If anyone ever proposes....)

Earth Star chocolate diamondMy favorite, though, is the second largest polished brown diamond in the world. A gem of extraordinary brilliance that weighs a mere 111.58 carats (cut from a 248.9-carat rough stone) and sold to a guy in Florida for a measly $900,000. Of course, that was over 30 years ago and, you know, inflation. Anyway, it's my favorite, you see, 'cuz of its name: the Earth Star.

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Sorry Sorry

I'm SorryHey, I'm sorry too, but If eating your candy bar means messing up my job, like a:

= captain letting my ship run aground in someone's yard
= hairdresser totally blowing my client's do
= lumberjack chopping a tree down onto someone's car
= mover dropping a couch on my coworker
= skydiver landing myself and my tandem student in a tree
= road worker painting a dotted line that leads cars into the retaining wall
= rodeo clown letting the bull go after its unseatedrider
= tattoo artist misspelling "Regrets" on this big beefy biker-type's arm

and so on, what eating your candy bar will really get me is fired. And possibly hurt. Epecially by that biker. Which will leave me with no money to spend on your product, so you lose. But I lose more (well, not counting weight).

Sorry Sorry Sorry

On another note, that there crazy wonderful juice is supposed to be super-duper at annihilating free radicals? Okay, but:

= if the samurai spends all his time showing off and talking a good game,
= and the dragon gets its foot caught in my rug,
= and the cyclops smashes my potted plant,
= and one of the archers accidentally shoots my cat,

sorry, but why should I trust your juice to really annihilate, and annihilate ONLY, free radicals?

SorryPlus, I certainly wouldn't trust drinking out of a bottle someone has opened with I-don't-care-how-sharp a sword 'cuz, you know, jags and shards.

And by the way, is that cyclops related to the yeti who snowboulders the underinsured car? 'Cuz they sure say "Sorry" with the same hang-dog expression and mumble-mouthed accent.

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What a Flop

It's tax day; and I gotta tell you, this is really taxing my patience. And raising my ire. SeaWorld is pushing another commercial that claims to present "the facts". Well, let's look at their facts.

First of all, SeaWorld hasn't been taking orcas from the wild for 35 years now? Great. So instead of being orca-napped into captivity and losing their freedom to range the seas, they're now born into captivity and never, ever even know what freely ranging the seas is like. Oh, yeah, that's so much better.

Secondly, SeaWorld says studies show its orcas live just as long as orcas in the wild. Hmmm. (Actually, the commercial conflates longevity with survival rate; but let's pretend they're the same thing and go with the length-of-life argument.) Excuse me, but orcas in the wild face all kinds of dangers that don't – or at least shouldn't – exist at SeaWorld. Dominance fights, human hunting, tail blows from larger whales, shark predation against orphaned young. Infections, beachings, lose of habitat and food sources, pollution and toxic contamination. Inability to communicate with each other due to noise pollution from ship engines and drilling rigs. Etc., etc., etc. Given that dynamic, shouldn't the SeaWorld orcas be living a lot LONGER than the wild ones? So if they're not (and you, SeaWorld, are the one saying so), why not?

Just for comparison: I have cats. They're indoor cats. They don't have to face idiots with cars or guns or rocks, big bitey dogs, wildlife with rabies or distemper, fleas and ticks, malnutrition, sub-zero temps, and the list goes on. Cats in the alley – counting both abandoned and feral cats - have an average alley lifespan of 1 year. A lot of that is due, granted, to how many die as kittens. But even the hardiest and smartest seldom reach the age of 10. The normal lifespan of a well-cared-for, indoor-since-birth cat is 18 years. All of my indoor cats - despite all being rescues, so who knows how mad their early life was - have lived to be anywhere from 14 to 19 years old. My current elder cat, Silver, turns 19 this summer. So I must be doing something right. SeaWorld, on the other hand....

But the commercial capper is the claim that SeaWorld orcas are healthy and thriving. A claim boldly made even as we see, swimming in the background, one of their orcas who clearly manifests fin flop (a collapsed dorsal fin). That condition rarely occurs in the wild. And, when it does, is a sure indicator of injury, illness, or toxicity. Yet fin flop is pandemic to all male and many female captive orcas. Yeah, that's definitely healthy.

Orca with fin flopI've pondered various theories as to why captive orcas have fin flop. My personal hypothesis is a refinement on one of them. We know that strength and solidity/density of tissue is directly related to resistance. That's why, for example, you get bulgy biceps from curling iron. (As opposed to curling irons. From which you get fried hair. Also not all that healthy.) I think captive orcas can't swim fast enough, straight enough, long enough, and especially DEEP enough for water pressure to provide the resistance needed to equally strengthen and densify the tissue in their dorsal fins. And I wonder what other unhealthy but less visible physical conditions are resulting from their lack of natural "resistance training", from an unnatural diet, and from other aspects of their artificial environment. To say nothing of the psychological effects of arbitrarily enforced and restricted social grouping, monotony and boredom, loss of opportunities to learn such necessary natural behaviors as parent-child bonding lessons. Or even something as simple as the inability to focus on the far horizon or something miles away (a condition known to have lifelong adverse affects on human children raised in visually restricted environments).

Fact-checked, SeaWorld's commercial itself rates as a flop.

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