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Adding Insult
(2019-2020 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 "Say what?!" to TV advertising, and want to share the fun with someone (everyone?) else.

Email me to subscribe or give feedback, or to call 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 we consider negative feedback irrelevant or refuse to post it, as negative feedback can often help us learn to do more and better.

Motor Odor

The weekend starts ... wa-a-ait for it ... NOW. So he leaves work. Climbs into his vehicle on the parking garage roof. And with his family suddenly ensconced - perhaps magically - in the car, heads away for a spate of outdoorsy fun. His wife beside him. His daughter and son behind him. The dog and their camping gear in the back.

Family carOff they go, outa the city and down a woodsy road. Finding a camping site. Pitching their tent. Setting up their necessities table. Lighting a campfire. Roasting marshmallows. Sitting around it in the gathering mist. Finding refuge in their car when the rain starts driving, lightning flashes, thunder crashes. And laughing about it. 'Cuz hey, who doesn't want to spend a soggy night - with a soggy dog - in the car, right?

Daughter, mother, father, sonNext morning dawns clear and bright. The early birds sing chipper melodies. The family is equally chipper as they exit the car. Dry, unwrinkled, and without an ache in sight. Despite the long soggy night. Yeah, that's gonna happen, right?

They go walking on top of unslippery fallen trees spanning dripless leafy chasms. Also biking single file along a puddleless path. So last night's deluge was limited to their campsite only, right?

Tail-wagging dogBack in the car they go. To a lookout point. To enjoy a broad stretch of water and the far horizon. And set up a telescope for a night of stargazing. Also another this-time-peaceful night's sleep. IN the small hemispherical tent. All four of them. Plus dog. Comfy, right?

Day dawns. Someone cooks a this-is-your-brain-on-drugs commercial. Yep, one egg for four eaters, Dad's still sleeping, though. So someone opens the tent zipper. Lets the dog in to wake him. Which maybe he's used to. But when you're dead asleep and a dog starts snuffling your face, you can't help but wake up with a start, right?

Day Three sees them donning backpacks and hiking through a chasm, a gap-spanning arched bridge soaring above them. The next thing we know, they and their backpacks are sprinting for the vehicle. In a loud "Get in the car!" panic. They buckle up and prepare to zip outa there. Having (we hope) packed everything in back before setting out on their hike. Including the dog, right?

Why the rush? 'Cuz something has apparently chased them out of the chasm.

What fast and fearsome beast? Oh my, a skunk. Which, as they buckle up, their car's rear view camera shows them is still speeding towards the back of the car, right?

And off they drive once more time. Visit the waterside again. Finally head home in the gloaming. Carry the sleepy kids in. And next morning, Dad suits up, jumps back in the car (which figures, as the whole advert has been mega-jumpy), and heads out to wow 'em at work once more.

Only I'm still stuck back at that last-straw skunk. Chased by a skunk? Gimme a breeak.

First of all, skunks are generally active at twilight. Not during dark of night nor broad daylight (when they shelter in their burrows). Not with their poor eyesight.

Secondly, skunks don't run. Unlike most of the speedy mustelids prized for their fur and/or aquatic antics, which taxonomic family skunks used to be but no longer are classified with (but you know, they really do have beautiful black, gray, brown, ginger, cream, and/or white warning-colorated fur.), skunks waddle. Little chance a skunk could keep up with running humans, never mind a dog, long enough to chase them out of the chasm and back to their car.Friendly skunk

Thirdly, as if a skunk would want to chase them. Yes, I'll grant you that it's an omnivore, but live human prey, even live dog prey (as if!) is way above its pay grade. And if threatened by humans, its first instinct is to try to get away. Skunks don't attack nonprey by chasing. Rather - if getting away, or a litany of stomping, hissing, and tail-lifting doesn't discourage whatever is threatening them - they defend by turning their back. Sort of like the much maligned Pierson's Puppeteers, except a Puppeteer uses their single hind hoof and the skunk uses a noxious spray. Which it decidedly can't spray you with when it's facing you.

(Of course, if it was someone's pet skunk who lived nearby - or got lost - and was trying to socialize with new humans/potential rescuers, that's a different story. Not that I can imagine anyone letting their probably deskunked pet get away. Especially without even a collar. Still, a moment's quiet observation would show there was no danger. Even wild skunks can be pretty laid back in the scheme of things. I learned this when I was a kid and one day my mother sent me out to move a sleeping skunk off the back porch. Which I did without incidence. Also on my uncle's farm, when a cat whose kittens had been farmed out brought home a "surfeit" of five baby skunks. And, citing the fact that their juvenile odor would still discourage rats and mice, my uncle let them stay in the barn until they stopped nursing and were old enough to go back into the woods. Which they soon chose to do.)

I could go on, but you catch my drift. Which is what my attention did. Drift. Away from the family. More to the point, away from the car that commercial was touting. Just didn't, um, smell right.

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Entries During

2020-12-18 Motor Odor

2020-11-13 Bunny Chop

2020-10-21 Guilty Displeasure

2020-09-18 Verging on XYZ

2020-08-26 Flip FLOp

2020-07-27 Insurely Not

2020-06-17 Parental Payola

2020-05-24 If the Phone Fits

2020-04-17 Price Less

2020-03-07 In Short

2020-02-23 By Its Cover

2020-01-24 Missing in Action

2019-12-17 Closer to Grosser

2019-11-11 Candy Candor

2019-10-25 Butter Plant?

2019-09-19 Playin' Percentages

2019-08-08 Dog Whistle

2019-07-20 Puttin' on Airs

2019-06-18 Photo Bomb?

2019-05-14 It's Campy, Alright

2019-04-15 Protection Racket

2019-03-15 What's He Doing?

2019-02-05 Whose Is What?

2019-01-01 Whose Idea?


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Bunny Chop

Ya know, Chuck Wendig once reminded us that wizards control their magic; it doesn't control them. Well, if there's one common magic that most all of us use and few of us understand, it's electricity. A lot of people don't even understand why we have A/C alternating in our wall sockets and D/C coming directly out of our batteries. Which is not that surprising, since the average electrician - and the average physicist - knows how electricity works, but not why.

This makes it easier for purveyors of store-on-the-shelf electricity to blind us with pseudoscience. And persuade us with antics.

Rosy rabbit with rosy jewelry on a rosy backgroundOne provider of common everyday household batteries has a non-speaking spokescritter in the person of a plushy roseate rabbit. And said lagomorph's usual power trip is bopping along beating the bass drum for its product.

In its latest powered-to-the-max performance though, it hits too hard and too fast and smashes its mallets right through the drumheads. Stymied, it looks all the way through the holes it made. Disgusted, it throws its drum across the room. Where said instrument rolls into a pile of the nine or so previous drums the battering bunny chopped into uselessness. Then the ad shows the dumb bunny destroying a drum again!

Okay, I get what you're trying to say, seller: Our new version will last longer. But what you show is your new battery being stronger. When stronger is not called for. In other words, if I connect your battery to my device, it's gonna fry my device? Maybe my home? And me? Like those lithium batteries we all heard about not so long ago? (I know, not the same. But the unfortunate association is still there.)

Yo, attentive readers, it's not that hard to suss out. Think of that device like it's a moving vehicle. The battery is its engine. Amperage is its horsepower. Voltage is its speed. If it's got too much speed for the condition of the road (like, say, a rivulet-corrugated dirt road), it's gonna eventually tear the vehicle apart. If it doesn't crash first. Granted amped up amperage won't matter so much if the voltage is right. But one way of another, too much voltage will cause a "spillage" of amps in the circuit and totally ruin it.

Which isn't what I want happening to my device. So, sorry, your battery itself might be quite all right, but your commercial optics are just plain wrong.

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Guilty Displeasure

They're in a rut. A bothersome rut. They insist that wrinkles always send the wrong message. As if they get to define what's wrong. And we always are.

But the latest one in the string really gets my goat. Let me share one of the (I think) third-party write-ups of the commercial. And notice the egregious and telling use of the word "innocently" in it. Which just goes to show how this advert has even curdled the thinking of innocent bywatchers:

As a teenager walks up the stairs, he thinks he hears his grandparents expressing their love for each other in the closet. In actuality, they were innocently struggling to get a box on the shelf. However, their wrinkled clothes are sending a different message and the grossed out teenager runs away. [Brand] says wrinkles send the wrong message and that they can be prevented with its line of [anti-wrinkle] products.*

Two couples enjoying a happy toastReally? The fact that these two people have loved and been in love with each other for all these years, long enough to have halfway grown grandkids, and are still able and willing to express it in word and deed? This obviously happy couple? Who work together and reach out to help each other? And who, yes, have all KINDS of fun together? This is a WRONG message?! For whom?

Every kid should have the good fortune to learn that lesson within their own family. Repeatedly.

Understand, I get that the teenager might very well act all grossed out. But that doesn't make the grandparents wrong. Or the commercial's message right.

No wonder upwards of a third of viewers do not have a positive reaction to this one. Or to others of like ilk for the same product from the same ad agency. Just sayin'.

*P.S. It doesn't stop there, though. When the couple come out of their closet and see their grandson, they look at their wrinkled clothes and then look all shamefaced. Why? They have no reason to be no matter what was really happening. And then later, when he catches them coming out of another closet wrinkle free and when he assumes nothing happened, they look all smug and winky. Again, why? It's their home. Why sneak into a closet for a snog anyway? What kind of uptight family are these folks?

Sun, Nov 1, 2020 at 6:33 PM, Kim wrote:
Hi Lucki,
  I took your advice and typed some key words into you-tube and saw some commercials.
  Life is too short. Two were enough.
  TOTALLY agree with you on the why the flip should the old folks be shamed or shy at still enjoying each other's company. Loser idea!
Lots of love,
  Lucki responds to Kim:
  Absoflippinlutely. And then we wonder why we have so many kids grow up either ragingly repressed or profoundly promiscuous.
  I do think it's cool you were willing to check out two adverts. Since many of my Ading Insults cover only 1 or 2 anyway, that means most months you'll have the time to investigate; & the rest just don't matter that much, do they?
Sun, Nov 6, 2020 at 9:39 PM, Lucki wrote:
That's amore.
Lucia's two cat snuggled together
  Lucki responds to Lucia:
  Good example of how not to be shamed by any idiots into being ashamed of trusting togetherness: Just stare the suckers down!

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Verging on XYZ

This time, I'm not going to rant about questionable commercials, of which there are a plethora at all times. Instead, I'm going to tackle a trend in the naming of prescription and OTC drugs. And please understand: I'm not saying anything against (or for) the drugs named below. I'm just talking about their names. And what those names say about marketing mentality.

Studies have shown that, in the past 30 years or so, drug names that use X, Y, or Z have become extremely popular. In both generic and brand names. (Makers of oldies like Ex-Lax, invented in 1906, got a big jump on that without even knowing.) Apparently, such names are more trusted by customers, and possibly prescribers, 'cuz those three letters make a drug sound high-tech and sciency, go figure.

That was fine with drug manufacturers, 'cuz those infrequently used letters also helped make the product name stand out as unusual. (Ya know, there are only five letters worth more in Scrabble than Y's 4 points, only two worth more than X's 8 points, and none worth more than Z's 10 points.)

Well, at least it used to, until everybody, their stepbrother, and their dog started using X, Y, and Z to name, like, everything. (I mean, honestly, even a street drug like Ecstasy starts with the X sound for a reason.) And started using two or all three. Come on: Xanax? Zzzquil? Zoladex? Xeljanz? Xylometazoline?!.

Blue XYZ in brown frame, with large red V overlayedBut I've been noticing a new trend. There've been drug names with V in them all along. Like Vicodin or Valtrex. Lately, though, V has been popping up all over the place. In one night of watching (among other things) news and commercials, I noted eight such names: Biktarvy, Descovy, Juvederm, Ocrevus, Remdesivir, Truvada, Victoza, and Zostavax. Seems like things that sound anti-viral, maybe, are all the rage. And not just 'cuz of  the current pandemic, either. 'Cuz they pretty much predate that. But identifiable and beatable deadly viral epidemics have been, you should pardon the expression, virulent for decades; and as the frantic search goes on for treatments for COVID-19 patients and vaccines against SARS-CoV-2, I expect to see a lot more Vs. (Probably even VAXes.) Hopefully connoting, even denoting, V for victory.

Sorry, X, Y, and Z; but long resume of yeoman service notwithstanding, you may have become a glut on the medicinal market. I hear there are still plenty of jobs over in mathematics, though.

[ASICE] BTW, if you heard any recent talk about the CDC changing its website's guidelines to de-emphasize testing for the COVID-19 virus, ignore it. That wasn't the CDC. Their website apparently got hijacked by an unnamed individual. The CDC scientists would never call the virus COVID-19 (that's the disease the virus causes). No one is tested for COVID-19. Depending on which type of test, they're tested either for the presence of the virus, SARS-CoV-2, or for the antibodies against it. Laymen, pundits, journalists, even nurses and doctors might sometimes speak colloquially; but if any "CDC guideline" is written with anything other than exacting scientific rigor, it just plain ain't theirs. [/ASIDE]

Tue, Sep 22, 2020 at 11:41 AM, Brit wrote:
  I had to laugh. I read your entry about the V's after work yesterday. I also watched a new TV program last night. It had 2 commercials on back-to-back. One was for Ubrelvy and the other was for Opdivo+Yervoy. I made a note. Where do they get all these ridiculous names from and how does anybody remember them?
  Lucki responds to Brit:
  Two drugs touted together in one advert. Two Vs for the price of one. And one of them wtih two Ys, to boot. LOL.
  I dunno where from, but apparently companies pay beaucoup bucks to come up with them. And then they end up with a brand name that sounds like some tempermental, hard-to-please dude who sings opera. :-P
  When it comes to medications I must take, I tend to memorize the generic names. Maybe 'cuz brand names cost more. And are tied to one manufacturer; but if I remember the generic name, I can find alternatives "on the shelf" if I need to. But that's just me. (Or maybe I just hate having to capitalize all the time. Of course with luck - good for the consumer, bad for the corporation - brand names can become generic in the public's mind over time.)

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Flip FLOp

Harking back to the oh-so-white insurance-company lady for a second, is it just me or has another un-fun trend been recently developing?

I'm not talking about missteps like her being the neighborhood dealer or her sneakery and vandalism or her strange performance and paranoia, although those seemed off-key.

Gymnastic flipI mean a new and unhappy trend in her relationship with her hapless coworker Jamie.

When Jamie was the clueless little odd guy out, the invisible man to his colleagues, the butt of snarky jokes, and so on ad nauseum, Flo seemed to still work well with him, mentor him, commiserate with him, try to cheer him up and raise his self-esteem (even if he was the only featured colleague that she didn't address in her roundtable staff meeting). Not all the time, but at least sometimes. Not perfect at it, but at least trying.

But now she has herself become quite trying. Not as sympathetic. Sometimes curmudgeonly. Even weird.

I hope it's not that the ad creators aren't sure what to do with a lead who's been aging in the role.

But I equally hope they're not writing the character as getting all bent out of shape 'cuz Jamie turns out to be successful at so many things. Granted it can be more than a bit disconcerting that her own parents have had Jamie as their agent for five years. Listen to him when they ignore her. Have him over every Sunday for singalongs.

But then that's just the tip of the Jamie iceberg. Owning a celebrity-filled home. Having an exotic wife and adoring kids. Being skilled in ballet and muay thai. Practicing law in Stockholm. And other interesting sidebars ranging from fire to ice. My absolutely favorite (and essentially first) instance being his bewilderment that Flo chose a name-your-price tool as her one item to have with her when stranded on a deserted island.

Which, when then queried about what one thing he would bring, Jamie casually and brilliantly answered, "A boat."

Mon, Sep 2, 2020 at 10:43 AM, Kim wrote:
 I haven't seen the commercials, so it didn't mean a lot...
  Lucki responds to Kim:
  Who knows, if you take some key words from an Adding Insult entry & Google them with the word "commercial" in front, you might find them on YouTube or whatever.

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Insurely Not

White Out
The oh-so-white insurance-company lady has gone from oh-so-smiley to oh-so-spooky. Again. Her job is to protect my house and auto? Right. From, let's see:

The paperboy pedaling by on his bike and tossing the paper onto my lawn. And she doesn't even catch the paper and bring it to me like, say, a half-way intelligent dog could learn to do. No, she bats it back out into the street. So how will I ever even know that it was, in fact, delivered?

The mourning dove sitting in a tree over my car. Which, OK, maybe I'd like to not have to clean up that mess. But does she actually try to scare it away? No, she just speaks sternly to it. And it's not impressed. Or moving.

The rain about to get into my car through the sunroof I left open. For which she stands there holding an umbrella over it. And which car, you'll remembered is parked under a tree. The one dumb place you do not stand during a rainstorm. Especially holding a metal umbrella. Why doesn't she reach in and close the sun roof? Or even just drop the shaft of the umbrella through the opening and let the ribs rest on the roof around it? Then find safe cover. So I don't have to clean fricasseed Flo off my car, either.

The baseball headed towards the car. Which she catches without ever looking. 'Cuz she heard the crack of the bat. Really? You can tell the direction the ball is going by the sound of the bat? But OK, yeah, good catch. (Actually, of course, good throw by the pitcher who landed that ball in the hand she stretched out. And well-timed sound effect.) It doesn't look like she's gonna give the ball back, either. But at least she complements the batter.

The guy cooking on the grill in the yard next door. Whom she sternly stands guard against with a big fire extinguisher upraised and ready to fire at the slightest provocation. Which, considering the neighbor is black, really rubs wrong right now.

The mourning dove, again. Now jumping up and down and yelling at it. By which it is still in no way impressed. Or moving.

Another hit ball (but not towards her). Which this time makes her pull a quick 180-and-freeze in the middle of the lawn like a paranoid Tasmanian devil.

Yeah, I definitely want her hanging around on my property.

Worst Nightmare
The handy insurance company, equally creepily, treats us to an actor's worst nightmare.

See, it's bad enough in one commercial that none of his fans can remember him by his real name or even by the name of any of the well over 100 roles he's played. All they can remember, and address him as and by, is his commercial tagline. Sheesh!

BadgeBut it gets exponentially worse. In another commercial, he's become so typecast as the company spokesperson that his scene partner in a cop drama set out on location in the desert can't picture or react to him as anything other than the guy in the commercials. So much so that said "sidekick" scene partner completely blows his lines and instead spouts the selling point of one of the insurance company's products. Then, when the director yells "Cut" in exasperation, sidekick-dude assumes he did a great job of acting and the scene is in the can.

Jerk's lucky the "big badge" (and superior actor) he's playing sidekick to is, as usual, too mellow to pin his ears back and demand he be sacked in favor of a real working actor. (Sorry if that wasn't clear. It's hard to clearly describe the situation with two real actors who are playing two fictional actors who are playing roles within their roles.)

Wimpy Wuss
And finally, the lizardly insurance company gives us a new homeowner's nightmare. To wit, a pair of HOA busybodies. One with a big checklist. The other with, at times, weaponized yardwork implements. What the new neighbors don't realize, but soon learn (in spades) from Cynthia, is that:

Their border shrubs, there to keep people like Cynthia from encroaching on their lawn, are NOT approved. (Hey, those shrubs are well and fully grown. Obviously the new neighbors didn't just plant them. So how come Cynthia didn't hassle the previous owner into removing them?)

The homeowners ignore her.

The cardboard in their recycle bin needs to be broken down. (OK, I wish people would do that around here, too. But ours is a common building-wide bin. I don't go opening up other homeowners' private bins to see what they are or aren't doing.)

The homeowner thanks her and walks on into his garage.

The three hanging pots on the exterior are not allowed. Such an egregious violation that Cynthia scissors them with her hedge shears, clipping the hanging wires and allowing the plant holders to smash down to the ground.

The homeowners stand frozen, gasping/sighing, as a neighbor walking his baby nearby commiserates. (For pete's sake, what's their problem? No one even says "Stop that, you stupid [expletive deleted]!")

Chainsaw bladeTheir mailbox is two inches too high. That's such a heinous crime that Cynthia attacks the wooden post, halfway up and at an angle, with her chain saw.

And the homeowner thanks her again and continues raking his leaves.

Excuse me, but I would've stopped her at the hanging pots. Even if I'd let that one slide, though, my response to the mailbox incident would be something like....

"Excuse me, Cynthia, but you didn't use your saw low enough. May I borrow it for a minute to finish the job?"

I'm sure she'd have thought she really won a point and had me cowed, and therefore would've handed it to me to finish the job. (Even more fun than doing it herself, right, seeing me cut it down?) At which point, I would've restarted the saw, jammed it against the concrete, and broken off every tooth. Or perhaps, more safely, dropped it into a sewer opening. Or something. After which I would've called the police, showed them the cellphone pix I took of Cynthia trespassing on and - TWICE - vandalizing my property with a deadly weapon, and had her arrested.

Understand, I'm the secretary of my condo association, and our Board is, in fact, responsible for seeing that new owners know and honor the bylaws, rules, and regulations. But I don't care how badly they disregard the Association or disrespect me; I don't wantonly go after their property (or potentially them, intimidatingly) with the intent of inflicting sharp-force trauma. Especially motorized sharp-force trauma.

Call me crazy that way.

Sat, Aug 1, 2020 at 3:47 PM, Sue wrote:
   I enjoyed all the comments about the commercials. You did not have to scold [the Pod People], someone already did. 


Lucki responds to Sue:
   Wow, so you recently read through the whole blog. All 5 pages.


  Sun, Aug 2, 2020 at 12:48 PM, Sue wrote:
   I noted the mistake in their ad before they changed it. I was delighted with the change. I guess about 3 or 4 months ago, I started seeing a commercial that first showed a black toddler reaching for a container with some forbidden object (Something he should not swallow.), then the scene switched to a white mother catching her daughter, as she was about to grab one of the pods. The company changed that, so that the first scene showed a black mother catching her son in action, and then the ad switched to the original scene with the white mother.
      Lucki responds to Sue:
   Good. Well, let me know in future if there's any other commercials you think I should rant about.

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Parental Payola

Many years ago, when Rey was a little schoolkid, I was picked - and of course paid - as a "target mother" to help an ad agency research the potential effectiveness of a trio of ads they had filmed and were planning to buy time for. Turned out I definitely was not the kind of mother they hoped to recruit. Or target.

If I remember correctly, they were trying to sell some kind of granola snack. A bar. But this was before most anyone was putting granola in bars, so it was a new concept. So without any advance word about what the product was, the researchers showed me the first ad. These two kids. Neatly but somewhat casually dressed. Obviously on a farm, 'cuz there was a tractor driving through a misty field in the background. But when, in the foreground, mom offered to give her progeny the product, I perceived it as about some kind of breakfast cluster-thingie.

The researchers asked why I didn't see the product as an after-school snack bar. Because it was obviously early morning in the ad, I responded. Why did I think that, they wanted to know. I said (A) the quality of the light was the first clue, (B) the tractor was driving through the kind of morning mist that rises with the sun, before the heat of day burns it off, and (C, and most notably) the kids were just too spiffy clean and crisp to have actually been doing anything yet.

With (I suspect) a silent sigh, the researchers ran the second commersh. By now I knew what the product was. A touted "natural" snack, I should be so pleased. The advert started with this pleasant nature scene, centering around a seemingly lazy bee visiting a colorful flower. With calm music. It went on, serenely, for quite a while. Then the announcer started the tout. I frowned. And the researchers jumped on that expression like, I dunno, giant fleas. Why did I frown so, was the first question. Because having the jarring voice suddenly and boisterously intrude on that tranquil scene was annoying. Even jarring. It irritated me, which of course adversely reflected on the product being touted.

Again, the researchers seemed to sigh. Then ran the last ad. This one wasn't so much introducing the new concept and product as explaining why I would want it. The tagline was a doozy: "Nature's answer to candy!" So what did I think of that, they inquired. My answer: "Nature's answer? What's the question?" They asked me to elucidate. "Okay. I don't need any nature's answer to candy. 'Cuz I rarely give my kid candy. And when I do so, it's 'cuz I chose to, not 'cuz I slide into it as an effortless alternative for, like, naturally nutrious FOOD. I offer candy as a rare treat. I don't offer it as an easy bribe, 'cuz I don't need to."

Another (I suspect) silent sigh. And I never did get called back to do any more research for them. I wasn't the kind of mom they wanted. You know, one who doesn't think.

I don't remember for sure about those ads eventually running. Probably. I think two did, the middle one didn't. I know that slogan popped up elsewhere. Everywhere from raisns (yeah, I'll buy that; I love raisins for themselves, not as poor substitutes for something else) to that (in)famous baseball player/manager's energy bar (of which the first ingredient was corn syrup, so for Pete's sake it WAS candy)French Fries.

Not that anything's really changed these days. Not on the kid-bribing front.

= Like the dad who potato-pays his pugnatiously pouting, repeatedly plate-shoving daughter with three fat French fries per small floret of broccholi eaten.

Mac & Cheese= Like the mom who can't catch her running-away, refusenik daughter to feed her just one more bite of something (at least approaching) healthy. So she has a brainstorm and smilingly goes and makes something else for her feisty little girl (and the kid's suddenly NOT "not hungry"): a bowl of pseudo-nutritious, all-carbs-n-fat mac and cheese. More of it than there is of any/everything else on her side-dish saucer of veggies.

Rimmomg Water Drop= Like the annimated team of fruits who decide the way to creatively root for a droopy student is to catapult her some water with fruit "flavoring" and sugar in it. In a plastic bottle, no less. What, she can't find the drinking fountain? 'Cuz nothing - but NOTHING - quenches thirst like cold water. (In fact, in my opinion the existence of ice water when I'm thristy is absolute proof of the existence of God ... and a loving One at that.)

(And what's with it always seeming to be girl children?)

What Rey eats now is his responsibility. Ditto my #grandMya. But when they were kids in my house, what they ate was my resopnsibility. And I took it seriously. As best I could, anyway. With loving firmness, not facile bribery. (Though maybe someday I'll tell you about Rey's school-sandwich swapping confession a decade or two ago.)

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If the Phone Fits

Okay, so the two roommates or buddies or boyfriends or whatevers are heading out. Perhaps out on the town ... if that makes sense in broad daylight. And the tight - and I do mean TIGHT - jeans on Guy #2 elicit a look from Guy #1. You know, that kind of look. Followed by an exclamation. Followed by a query as to Guy #2's readiness to sally forth on whatever adventure it is they're sallying forth on.

Dude in awfully tight jeansGuy #2 is, yeah, ready. Well, almost. He just has to stuff his wallet into his jeans. Into his front left pocket. Which doesn't make a lot of sense, 'cuz later in the ad, we infer that he's right-handed. But never mind.

Problem is, wallet won't fit. No way, no how. He can't even fit any fingers into that pocket. When he tries to force the wallet in from the top, it simply pops out of his hands and hits the floor. And since Guy #2 can't even bend at his knees, and hardly at his waist, he ends up trying to reach for his fallen wallet while arched over on toe- and fingertips.

Cue Guy #3. Who slides (with his office desk and chair) into frame. Literally slides. Across the floor. Of somebody else's living room. Without a by-your-leave.

But, hey, I'm not sure I want to do business with any big corp whose employees can, and feel entitled to, sashay uninvited into my home like that. Desk, chair, and all.

But anyway, Guy #3 starts touting the bank product that allows you to handle everyday financial transactions without needing to carry a wallet. You just have to be smartphone savvy. Way cool, right? Easy peasy.

By time said spokesguy is finished with his spiel, tight-jeans guy is stuck on the floor in a front split. With both hands on the floor outside his front leg. (Credit where credit is due: Andrew Bushell CAN pull that off without a stunt double.) He can't get up. And rather than help him, his roommate / buddy / boyfriend pulls out his own phone to take pix. Maybe hoping to post an OMG meme that goes viral?

Well, our not-quite-spandex-clad hero is okay with that. Gives a thumbs up. Is either humble enough to laugh at himself and let others join in. Or has an ego the size of Texas, so he doesn't care what you post about him as long as you post about him. And spell his name right.

But I've got one question: How the blazes is he gonna fit that phone into his impenetrable pocket, either?

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Price Less

So, the old-school insurance company is touting its seniorized life insurance program (you do realize it's actually death insurance, right?). And in a "cute" take on real estate's dictum re desireability - "Location. Location. Location." - America's most-trusted spokeshost tells you this company's dictum re desireability.

"Price. Price. Price."

But wait, he's not finished. He goes on to list the three different price components that allow the company to make that claim. To wit:Scrabble rack with "Insurance" plus 3 "P" tiles

1, A price you can afford.
Sounds good.

2. A price that can't increase.
Sounds even better.

3. A price that fits your budget.
Sounds...wait. What? Isn't that just
another way of restating point 1?

Yep. Sounds repetitive. Sounds anticlimactic.

So the company and its ad agency could really only come up with TWO positive price points? Thus, you should pardon the pun, jeopardizing its clout with potential customers who actually stop to think about what they just heard? No wonder the "sentiment" analytics on the commercial are, despite that highly esteemed spokeshost, only 55% positive.

Well, they can count me in the 45% who are not impressed. What about you?

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In Short

It's been quite a longish time since I last shared a collection of short rifs and rants. So, for the 80th Adding Insult, here goes.

Badly wrinkled clothesHe says she looks amazing. She says he looks "amazingly comfortable" in that V-neck that's stretched into a U-neck 'cuz he washes it wrong. 'Scuse me, but I just don't believe that young man would dress that badly on a first date. But if he did, then he'd have enough chutzpah not to act embarrassed.

Speaking of looking bad, do the tax-prep people really expect us to think all scam artists are unremittingly smarmy? You know, with their trips to the islands and falling off the boat and adopting a vegetative alias and shredding documents and all? 'Cuz the successful ones surely aren't; and those are the ones we need to be looking out for.

There also is the guy who wants to thank everyone for supporting him when he was unable to work and was forced to elsewise depend on insurance that doesn't pay for everyday everythings. He thanks his wife. He thanks his mother. He thanks the duck. And we hear the tears in his voice. So does the guy sitting next to the spokesduck. Which guy starts to act all condescending. Rolling his eyes. Shaking his head. Right there in front of the customer ... and his own quackly coworker or, possibly, boss(?).

Sneering tigerIt takes a good actor to purposely act really badly. (I know from experience. Like, I was certainly challenged portraying badly enough the overly vampy Mrs. Pencil role-within-a-role in Alice Gerstenberg's "The Pot Boiler".) So kudos to Tanner Novian for pulling off that ham-up while pretty. But should I trust the statuesque (or any) insurance company that, albeit in jest, can't find an ad agency good enough to hire a director good enough to work with an actor good enough to at least get the company name right? I mean, what else can't the company get right?

And it was bad enough when the guy whom I was supposed to trust about car decisions started food-teasing the lordly lion. At least lions have evolved to expect that someone else (namely, their lionesses) will provide their food. But now this other guy with the cough syrup I'm supposed to trust him about is sneaking up, slab of raw meat in hand, on a sleeping tiger?! A big, long-clawed, keen-eared, primal-nosed, solitary hunter? Like, didn't the guy get a clue from the feline's being named after the mighty thunder-god king of Olympus? Yeah, sure, that's exactly the kind of cogitative excellence I want to emulate. NOT!

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By Its Cover

They say that you can't judge a book by its cover. Okay, maybe not. But there are things you definitely can judge by their cover. I'm taking a different tack today to share my response to one of those things ... something that has nothing to do with commercials but does have to do with falsely implying that something is important. To wit....

Have you ever noticed how, the more in-your-face print there is all over an envelope, the more useless its contents will likely turn out to be. "What's inside me is massively important to YOU!!!" the envelope screams. "There will be all kinds of negative consequences if you don't open me right now!!!" it threatens. "I'm OFFICIAL!!!" it demands you recognize. Etc. Here are two examples of what I'm talking about.

The first one jumps up and down about how timely and important it is.

Junk Mail Envelope 1

Wow, note all those checkmarks.

= Express? Like you spent extra money to get it to me fast? Yeah, right.
= Confidential? You mean nobody's supposed to open it but me? You're expecting someone else to get it?
= Response requested? Oh, I'm sure you do want one. Don't hold your breath.

On top of which, where do you get off instructimg the Post Office to do something they do anyway without your pushy demand?

The second one gets even more strident.

Junk Mail Envelope 2

Granted, that hyphen above the window does tell the truth, in that it doesn't say the enclosed document itself is important - which, of course, it isn't - but simply that it's important to know a document is enclosed. Hey, you thought I'd assume there wouldn't be a document enclosed in your envelope? Nevertheless:

= The stampy thing contains an unnecessary but officious graphic.

= The giant print under it informs me that I'm an idiot too oblivious to know there are Medicare changes this year, as if I've been blind to every news note and government bulletin to date.

= And the big box warns me the contents are so important that, if anyone steals this piece of mail or keeps me from getting it, they're going down big time. Which is, of course, also true if they instead purloin one of my brithday cards or a thank-you note or, for that matter, an empty envelope mailed to me.

Well, at least I get something out of it. I could just recycle the whole mess unopened. But my take on "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" goes more like this:

Reduce twice as much as you Reuse.
Reuse twice as much as you Repurpose.
Repurpose twice as much as you Recycle.
Recycle twice as much as you Relegate
to the dump.

REDUCE:  So the first thing I do is try to get shut of receiving junk mail in the first place.

REUSE:  Of what hits my mailbox anyway, I cut up everything that's at least palm-sized and blank on both sides into scratch paper, use some for myself, and put the rest in a notepaper container at my local Alano Club for members (especially newcomers) to share phone numbers, e-addresses, and other info.

REUSE 2.0:  If it's not blank, but has any pix I think the kids at Baha'i Children's Classes might use in their art projects, I cut them out and save them to give to a friend who teaches there.

REPURPOSE:  Then I run some of what's left - what's not too thick, too flimsy, too gummy, etc. - through my shredder and use it in the kitty litter.

RECYCLE:  After which, the rest of it goes in the recycle bin.

RELEGATE:  If I've been eco-conciencious and taken my time, there's nothing to relegate to the dump. (Well, except eventually that used kitty litter. But at least that biodegrades relatively PDQ; and no one had to mine, pelletize, sterilize, add chemicals to, package, ship, and sell it to me.)

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Missing in Action

I've been working hard not to be too cynical about all the commercials with biracial and/or gay families popping up lately. Or at least popping up in metro areas like Chi Town. It all seems a little overly "strategic marketing" to me. And I don't know whether or not advertisers are self-censoring such ads in markets where they'd expect concerted blowback.

But sometimes there's something more egregious, more in-your-face to rant about in such commercials.

See, there's this father who feels there's been something missing from his daughter's life. Him. So he takes this Crohn's/colitis drug, You know, so he can BE THERE for her. And what's the result?

Well, apparently feeling much better, he goes to pick up his child after school. And he parks across the street from where she's waiting in front of the building. Okay, that can happen. Directionality, traffic patterns, one-way streets, no-parking signs, whatever. But he doesn't then go to get her. He doesn't cross at the zebra crossing next to where he parked. He simply stands on his side of the street - IN the street - and watches her.

An after-school cupcake for daughterAn after-school ice cream for fatherWhen she notices him, she happily runs to him. Across the street (granted, at the zebra crossing). Where he's waiting for her. IN the zebra crossing. And where he kneels down to hug her. Still IN the zebra crossing. Then he puts her in the back of the car. Using the driver-side door in the street, not the passenger-side door by the sidewalk.

And where do they go? To an after-school activity? To the playground? Home to help her with her homework? Something like that? No, he takes her (and himself) out for a couple of sugar-laden snacks. Before supper.

Is it just me, or is he still missing something? Like a little more parental common sense.

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Closer to Grosser

Talk about cringe-worthy. I mean, since the purpose of the product is to combat grossness, its commercial obviously has to refer to the grossness it's made to combat. Talk sorta tastefully, of course, but talk about it nonetheless. I don't mind that. I mind them wasting my time and grossity-tolerance on selling folks a product you really don't need. An after-the-fact product. Too little too late.Water splashing up

So, the pitch is that every time you flush your toilet, some of its contents fly outwards and land on all your soft surfaces. (Including, BTW, yourself; but they don't show or mention that.) They're right. When the flushing mechanism is working properly, the initial jet aerosolizes some of the water and other contents and sprays it up and out as much as six feet. So yeah, undetectable droplets are gonna land on your bath mat. On your shower curtain. On your towels. On your toothbrush. On you. (Also, of course, on all your hard surfaces, but that apparently doesn't bother them.) And then they promise you that if you use their misty air freshener, it'll neutralize the odors emanating from all those soft surfaces. Apparently including you. Not the crud itself, notice; just the odor.

Talk about a day late and a dollar short. Duh. I prefer to not have all that aerosolized crud getting out in the first place! Which, come ON, that's what the toilet seat lid is for. Just put the frikkin' lid down, flush, let the contained flush carry the contaminants and their odor away, then open the lid and maybe, if the thought of leaning against it next time also grosses you out a bit, wipe down the underside with, like, a quarter of a paper towel to wick up any residue.

And in a side note for those who realize that most public toilets don't have lids, at least if you turn away as you flush, the aerosolized spray won't hit your face. Me, I figure it's a lot easier to wash my clothes and even my hair than to try washing out my lungs. Just sayin' ... common sense.

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Candy Candor

Author, reader, and sometimes guest blogger Tom Ligon and I talked in 2013 about commercialized cannibalism, here and here. And it looks like we definitely have more fuel to reignite that convo. Not just any ol' fuel, either. High-powered, kick-ass, blow-up-the-launchpad rocket fuel. I mean, sheesh!

Reminding you of what I said back in 2013 about "that big ol' red melt-in-your-mouth candy...being eaten 'alive' even as we listen to him. To say nothing of the fact that his chocolate femme fatale actually hooked him up and sent him off to be chomped on" by that sexy, red-headed lady. Also reminding you again of how, creepy as it was, that wasn't really cannibalism because the redhead was human and the candy was not.

Well, I guess the candy company had to correct their mistake. Actually, I think they also tried to correct their correction. Which desperately needed it. Too bad they didn't succeed. Because both versions of their newest commercial are absolutely bonkers.

See, the company is introducing a new flavor. With a new spokescandy joining the mix. The MC announces the newbie. The curtain is raised. And mostly all that can be seen on the revealed pedestal are a pair of white shoes and a pair of white gloves. Then the camera pans to the line of six other assembled spokescandies. Five of whom have mouths and gloves covered with smears of chocolate. (Can't tell for sure about the sixth. Brown is chocolate-colored anyway. Maybe she's looking that snarky 'cuz she warned the others not to do it, having gotten flak from viewers back in 2013. Maybe 'cuz she's the only one whose guilt doesn't immediately stand out like a sore, um, mouth. Maybe she's the one who egged them on in the first place. Who knows?) But here, the two versions diverge. Don't know why they did even one, never mind two. And don't know which is worse.

Multicolored Spokespersons"What did you do?" the MC asks in one. "We ate him!" the tallest, yellow culprit proudly answers.

"What?! You ate the new spokescandy?" she asks in the other. "Not all of him," Yellow answers, referring to the few minuscule scraps of chocolate left with the white wearware on the pedestal.

In either case, candy eating candy - especially the same brand of candy - can't really be seen as anything other than candybalism. No wonder Orange is trying to sidle off into the wings. I wanted to leave just as badly. I think this is the company's biggest public gaff since they threw the adorable E.T. straight into their competitor's lap. What do you think?

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Butter Plant?

Noodles and butterMeet Cammie. She's a charming, if somewhat opinionated, 5-year-old. And buttered noodles is the only thing she actually eats. So whoops, sorry about this, but she must be dead ... 'cuz she sure couldn't have made it on only buttered noodles for the last three to four years (depending on when she was weaned).

But no, Zambie - uh, I mean, Cammie - is still mobile and chowing down. On noodles. Wheat, egg, water, salt. With, let's don't forget, butter. Only now, apparently after four or three years of letting Cammie have her way, Mom has decided to give her healthier food. Good for Mom.

So, let's see now ... Something other than noodles. No way. OK then, like, at least meat sauce on her noodles? No. Cheese and tuna in her noodles? Nope.

So forget the additives. How about coodles (carrot), poodles (parsnip), swoodles (sweet potato), toodles (turnips), zoodles (zucchini), or any of the myriad other veggies you can turn into noodles? (With butter.) Seems not.

At least a simple gluten change-up using chickpea noodles, quinoa noodles, rice noodles, shirataki noodles, soba noodles, or even multigrain noodles? Not even. (Wait, forget the shirataki; those have no calories or nutrients. But they're good for contributing fiber to other foods. Rats, Cammie doesn't eat other foods. Only noodles. *Sigh* Bye, Cammie.)

No, what Mom decides to change for the better is the butter. To, of all things, "plant-based butter". (Excuse me, but isn't all butter originally plant-based? I mean, aren't plants what the butter plant - AKA cow - uses to "manufacture" butter fat?)

Never mind that. Plant-based butter. OK. The company makes three kinds: with almond oil, with avocado oil, and with olive oil. Get that "with"? That does not mean "of".

Because in every case, the tasty oil touted on the label is actually the last oil in a string of oils used. (Remember, by law the ingredients must be listed in descending order by amount.) Plus, in two of the cases, the first oil used is palm kernal oil. And in the third case, it's the second in the list of oils used. Palm kernal oil ... which is 85% saturated fat. Oh, yeah, that's healthy for Cammie. I mean, come on, butter itself is only 63% saturated fat!

Furthermore, at least butter has some animal protein in it. A little. Well, the company apparently thought of that. A plant-based protein is added to each flavor. So much added protein that it comes after salt on the ingredient list. (Remember, by law the ingredients....) Really? This "healthier" butter has more salt added than protein? Sheesh.

Like I said, chowing-down Cammie must be dead. Zombified. Hey, maybe Zambie's noodles are actually boodles. You know, made out of somebody's brains.

Sun, Nov 10, 2019 at 8:50 AM, Brit wrote:
  Somebody's brains like Mom's because she plainly isn't using them.
  Lucki responds to Brit:
  Good one, Brit. You may be on to something there.

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Playin' Percentages

Sarah seems to be a good mother. Or at least trying to be. Rather than leave her children home alone ('cuz even if they're maybe latchkey kids, she doesn't want them alone at night), she's taking them both to the pharmacy with her. To get the medicine her son needs.

She also seems a working-class mother. Probably earning minimum wage. Her uniform implies that. As does her name tag with only her first name on it. So does the fact that, exhausted as she seems, she obviously couldn't leave the kids with a babysitter or evening daycare. Or, say, a husband who perhaps works nights. Plus which, she's going late at night. Maybe, 'cuz that's when she gets home, just before closing. Very dark and empty-looking parking lot. Only one other shopper in sight, pushing his cart away on the sidewalk. None in the pharmacy. And while Sarah does have insurance, she's worried that it's not very good. Shades of Medicaid?

So she asks the pharmacist how much this drug her son needs will cost. And even with the insurance assistance (if any), it's a pretty hefty price/copay. She can't afford it. Discouraged, she turns away.

And the pharmacist stops her. Tells her about this smartphone app that might help reduce her prescription cost by up to 80%. Thoughtful. (Although, of course, you can't use that kind of coupon with your insurance.)

[ASIDE] Sarah has her phone in her hand. I wonder why. I also wonder: If the pharmacist didn't see a phone, would she still assume Mom has one? And a smart one, at that? Act like the poor woman ought to have one? Does she think that people who can't afford the prices can all nevertheless afford smartphones? [/ASIDE]

So Sarah signs up on the spot. And, by golly, the app helps her find the necessary coupon to drastically reduce her prescription cost by up to the promised 80%. How nice. She's so happy. Feel-goodies all around. (Well, maybe not the kids. They're tired and bored and antsy. But Mom and pharmacist and viewer.)

Prescription cost before app = $67.00Prescription cost with app = $8.90So far, so good, you say? Ah, but then there's the cash-register visuals. See, the original prescription cost is $67.00. Then we apply the clearly, specifically stated "up to 80%" discount. And the resulting cost is $8.90. Wow. Great difference. Also impossible. Because if the highest possible discount is 80%, that means the lowest possible remaining cost is 20%. Mom simply cannot pay less than 20% of the original price.

And excuse me, but 20% of $67.00 is $13.40. Yep, $13.40 is the lowest Sarah could possibly pay even if she found the coupon(s) for a full 80% discount. So that $8.90 is a cooked figure to make us think the app does better than it really does. Like, a third better than it really does ... which is a lot of fudge.

[ASIDE] Actually, there's an even lower cooked figure, $8.45, at the top of the dummied-up app page. (Yeah, it's not real. The med listed doesn't exist ... yet, if ever.) One that Sarah bypasses. But maybe that store (which is a real chain) is located somewhere Mom and kids can't get to now, if ever. Or maybe, like me, she chooses not to support that particular, and particularly ruinous, big-box store. Especially not for a mere 45 cents. Gotta wonder, though, if that big-box store paid for product placement at the top like that. [/ASIDE]

If I can't trust the advertiser to give me correct/honest figures in the commersh, how can I trust them to give me correct/honest results in RL? And did they really think no one would be able to see how wonky that pricing was? 'Cuz it didn't need a calculator or anything to get suspicious. I saw the impossibility right away and ran the simple equation in my head. And I'm sure a lot of other viewers did, too. Probably including you.

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Dog Whistle

Assumption 1: We all know what a dog whistle is for dogs.

Assumption 2: We also all know what a dog whistle is for humans. To quote The contemporary sense of dog whistle, however, is firmly established in 1995 when a Canadian newspaper described language like "special interest" as a "dog-whistle that those fed up with feminists, minorities, the undeserving poor hear loud and clear." Note that the paper itself dog-whistled, especially by including the descriptor "undeserving" without putting it in (air)quotes.

This kind of thing is essentially the same phenomenon as what I described in Balto & Company exactly two years ago today, when I called out "another type of false advertising. The subliminal kind that indoctrinates us. That bombards us below the threshold of consciousness. That affects/infects our minds with hideous, insidious memes without our being aware of it. By telling us certain things are universally true that just plain aren't."

Well, if you have, or are curious about, Crohn's disease, you've been targeted by just such a dog whistle lately. The advert features three characters who apparently suffer from the condition. And what ails them follows them around in print. In blackish all-caps:

= First, we're shown that one character has CROHN'S DISEASE, wordily dogging his footsteps on the ground.
= Next, we see a new character with ABDOMINAL PAIN, the words following behind at eye level on the wall.
= Then, we have a third character whose symptomology - FLARE-UP - scuttles along the wall overhead.
= Finally, we're back to the first character with his condition noted in front of his feet.

Okay, let's parse that symbology:

Standing dog looking at the floorCROHN'S DISEASE
A medical condition. Genetic in nature. Triggered by common, ubiquitous bacteria. Mental image of someone who suffers through no fault of their own. Suffers bravely even. 'Cuz the character, when he realizes he can't outrun his ailment, turns and stands his ground. With determination.

Dog lying on tummyABDOMINAL PAIN
Well, that's a nice polysyllabic symptom. We all know the shorthand for that, right? Cramps. Of course, not everyone is always sympathetic with someone who has cramps, are they? Especially abdominal cramps.

Snarling dog headshotFLARE-UP
Oh my, that doesn't sound good. I mean, ya know, fires flare up. Tempers flare up. Hostilities flare up. Just feels kind of scary. Starts to sound maybe, I dunno, downright dangerous, doesn't it? Certainly don't want any of that.

So, now that we've identified common analogic images, let's also look at the commercial's optics.

= The first character - the brave, blameless ground-stander - is a white male.
= The second character - the one that just has, ya know, cramps - is a white female.
= The third character - the one that, oh dear, may bode danger - is a black male.

Got it, yes? I needn't say any more to, you know, trigger a flare-up of your ire against the (whether intended or not) sexism and racism, right? (Or am I just whistling Dixie?)

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Puttin' on Airs

So, Armstrong lands the lunar module. A moment later ('cuz this isn't a 6-hour commercial), he exits the LLM, slowly descends the ladder, and takes that one small step for a man. Only he never touches the lunar surface. 'Cuz he's grown these fidgety little wings on his back (outside his spacesuit, no less). He's followed closely ('cuz this isn't even a 19-minute commersh) by Aldrin bearing the American flag, sprouting the same set of wings, and also incapable of reaching the ground...even though he has enough downward wing-force leverage to implant the flagstaff in the lunar regolith, go figure.

Uh, Houston, we have a problem.

Houston responds with a mild exclamation about the energy drink our two intrepid heroes just drank, whence came the wings. Guess the pair of astronauts will just have to extract the flag, reenter the module, come back to Earth, and shoot the whole thing in a studio (twisted-into-a-pretzel conspiracy theory, anyone?).

Amenadiel Firstborn with wings unfurledReally? 'Cuz the most ludicrous bit of the whole ludicrosity is that if you could grow wings of the size and strength of Amenadiel Firstborn's --->, you still couldn't fly in the Sea of Tranquility. 'Cuz the moon has no air for your wings to lift or maneuver against. It has only 55,000 pounds of atmosphere (technically, exosphere) covering the whole planet. That's ex-ter-ree-eem-ely thin (in both height and density). Hence the spacesuits.

Just too much ridiculousness to even want to suspend disbelief long enough to trust anything the commercial says about the product. Plus I cringed at even the comic credence given to the far-out fringe who thunk the mission was all a lie.

P.S. - I watched the Apollo landing live, with Number One Son Rey. I watched Armstrong exit the LLM and slowly climb down. I heard him say that (in)famous first line. And yes, the transmission was a little glitchy and staticky. But I always thought he was telling the truth when he said he didn't screw up the line, the transmission did. Yeah, it did, and so did the people who made a big thing out of it. What, were they so jealous of him that they had to find a fault whether there was one or not? Because what I heard was more like "One small step f'ruh man...."

That's right. As far as I could tell in the moment, which I didn't need to second-guess later, he elided the words "for a" into single syllable: "f'ruh". He didn't forget the word "a"; it was in there...just clad in casual clothes. What he "left out", if anything, was the "o" in "for".

Big whoop. I've done that myself dozens, hundreds, thousands of times. You have too. Eliding that first vowel like that is a common habit among all English (as a first language) speakers...with the possible exception of Mister Data. Elisions are a normal speech phenomenon that come naturally and frequently to native speakers of any language that has elisions. And eliding a word-internal unstressed vowel like that "o" is so common, it has its own term: syncope.

Just sayin'.

Fri, Jul 26, 2019 at 11:16 PM, Lann wrote:
  I watched many of the Lunarversary programs, as you called it in your serious blog. Most were new to me. When I heard "one small step" in them, I didn't hear the A either.
  Lucki responds to Lann:
  To be honest, I mostly didn't, too, this time around. Of course, some of the material I saw was, like, docudramas; and they went with the prevailing (rather than horse's-mouth) wisdom. But in the case of the actual recordings, what we hear nowadays has been copied and scrubbed and remastered so many times that we're not hearing anything like the original any more. Trust me, none of the programs had it sounding as glitchy as I remember it sounding live 50 years ago.
  And when people work on such copies and cleanups and remasters and have to make decisions, they're liable to naturally (even if subconsciously) err in the direction of what they think they should be - or everyone else claims to be - hearing. (You can get plenty of proof of that if you watch closed captioning as much as I do.) Plus which, discrete-samples digital has never been able to capture the nuances of continuous-wave analog recording/playback, which is why so many true afficionados still prefer vinyl to bytes.
  Armstrong maintained he was sure he said the word, and NASA backed him up. Tthough they both seemed to finally let it drop when it became all too obvious that the naysayers were way more interested in the gotcha than in the truth. And some more recent research also backed him up, such as that cited in this WINK News article, to wit: "In 2006, a computer analysis of sound waves found evidence that Armstrong said what he said he said. NASA has also stood by the moonwalker." So have I.
Fri, Aug 2, 2019 at 10:14 PM, Tom wrote:
Lucki and Shea,
  Consider yourselves introduced.
  Shea, I've told you a little about Lucki and showed you her main EarthStarWorks website. You probably have not had much time to explore it. Might I recommend the Lucki Stars section, which includes the Abiding Blog, various sections on matters spiritual, and a very funny set of short articles poking fun at bad commercials called Adding Insult (several of which are my fault)....
  I think you two will quickly become good friends.
Tom Ligon
Knight Ranger and Knight Cutter of the Order of Shea
Tom Ligon's Order of Shea medals
  Lucki responds to Shea (CC Tom):
  Hi, Shea. Nice to meet you. Tom had a spate of exuding about you, & I was interested...I can see your public FB page; but I'm not on FB, so I can't post any comments there. I did enjoy the articles he highlighted, tho. Now he's sent me some links to other sites, so I'm going to take a look when I have enough time available to give the attention deserved. I was also intrigued by his photo of his Order of Shea medals.

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Photo Bomb?

Sat on this one for a while 'cuz I couldn't for the life of me remember which particular brand of product was being offered. Which certainly wouldn't have made the advertisers happy, that their commersh didn't make the product name memorable. But c'est la vie. I finally bothered to track it down. Guess it was easier to remember something about the first day of school as we were dealing with the last day of school. So, albeit a day late and a dollar short, here goes.

See, there's the proud mom. Apparently she just got a cool new phone. With a cool new camera. And here it is, her daughter's first day of school. So naturally, at least after a hug and kiss, she snaps a photo of her backpack-toting cute-as-a-button offspring getting ready to board the school bus. (Though I never really thought of buttons as being cute. But hey, what do I know?)

Then she imagines the happy results of taking and having that there photo.

Camera cellphoneDoes she imagine framing that photo to put on her wall or desk or nightstand?

Does she picture herself looking at it in a photo album some cold winter's eve to come?

Does she foresee a photo-fed nostalgia trip with her daughter before she sends her off to college?

Does she dream of sharing that photo with her grandchildren as they prepare to start school themselves?

Does she do anything that would indicate she thinks her memories of her daughter are the truly important part?

What she imagines is posting the photo and reaping a bunch of likes and hearts and "Cutes" and shares. ('Cuz, you know, if you're not constantly being validated by other people on social media, it's like you don't exist, right?)

Which strikes me as being way more about her than her daughter. But hey, what do I know?

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It's Campy, Alright

Learn something new every day. Did you know that the collective noun for a group of chameleons is a camp? But I digress. On to another car commercial. For another car. By another manufacturer.

Okay, first of all, no hamsters! (Not that they floated my boat all that much anyway.) Unless they're actually inside those three cars. Pedal to the metal. Groovin' to Jason Slack's "Traction Control". Driving through that colorful landscape. Up hill. Down dale. Paralleling peaks. Past a crater. Wait. What? The crater moved?!

Chameleon changing color to match sunglassesWell, will you look at that. It's not a landscape. It's a, um, chameleonscape. A humongous chameleon. A veritable super-gigantosaur of chameleonity. (Either that, or those cars are the size of fleas.)

Color-change washes along the scaly road. Independent, mobile eye moves. Long, lightning-fast tongue slurps. The driving (in both senses of the word) song terminates practically in mid-note. So, it looks like to me, do the cars. With the drivers.

And the super-duper cryptid of a chameleon looks quite pleased with itself.

Chameleons dote on insects and arachnids. Crunchy on the outside. Soft on the inside. Just like those cars. And drivers. Some chameleons will also take a stab at small/young lizards, birds, and the odd rodent or three. Hamsters, anyone?

[ASIDE] For some reason, I went to YouTube to look at that advert again. And guess what I found? The commercial posted by the car manufacturer, with their blurb that says: "We created three distinct new species of the 2020 [make and model], each perfectly built to adapt to unique surroundings. But what happens when they take on a new environment unlike any seen before?" [/ASIDE]

Well, so, let's see: Buy our car. Take a drive on the wild side. And may your soul enjoy heaven, 'cuz the rest of you is going down the tubes. Really?

Uh, not that I own a car. Or drive, for that matter. Nevertheless, no thanks. If you own one of those, please don't offer me a ride.

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Protection Racket

Talk about advertisers generally being in a rut. The statuesque insurance company is the latest in a long line of advertisers who think we should be impressed by and follow the lead of people too stupid to walk and chew gum at the same time. Without getting said gum stuck on the soles of their shoes. As, for instance, they stick their foot in their mouth. Or even if they don't.

Witness Protection witnessYou know, like the bumbling burglars with the sofa. Or the sorry losers with the candy. Or the foolhardy feeder with the lions. Or Tom Ligon's guest entry on the glassy gastronomes with the phones.

The dude's on deck at the water's edge. Facing the camera with shadowed face, distorted voice. He can't tell you who he is. Or what he witnessed. But he can tell you about his insurance. At least, until someone with a flash snaps a photo, illuminating his face. At which point, he turns, runs for the rim, leaps over the railing, and dives in. Splash.

Witness Protection reporterHe's just blown his cover? In public? Disclosing his status and locale and all? Freely? At a spot guaranteed to be crawling with photo-taking tourists? To talk about his customized car insurance? Too bad it was for his wheels instead of his health or his life. Maybe he or his widow coulda eventually collected on that. But no, while his car may still be well insured, one would suspect that the only vital insurance he had - being in the Witness Protection Program - just got cancelled. In spades.

And by the way, if that intrusive reporter from another statuesque advert returns to the scene to report on its being the last place said witness was seen alive, maybe this time before she exits out of frame on her left, she'll remember to pick up the purse she dropped on her right. Assuming nobody's already swooped by and snatched it.

Yeah, I'm really gonna trust any advice from those two.

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What's He Doing?

Pair of turkeysGot two real turkeys to talk about this time. (Sorry, got bit by the alliteration bug. Twice.)

The first is the critter (not a spokescritter 'cuz it never says nothing, though it does gasp once) who's trying to quit smoking. Cold turkey. No, slo-o-ow turkey. So it starts using this withdrawal drug that has all these withdrawal-like side effects. Which is not the point I'm going to talk about here. 'Cuz I already have. Both as it comes to quitting smoking and to meds in general. No, I'm going to talk about what the turkey is doing, not what the product is doing.

Now, mostly the advert is silly fun. The slow turkey:

1.   Dips its toe in the pool and recoils at the cold. (There's its only line: that gasp.)
2.   Floats high and dry on its inflated raft.
3.   Uses its beak to gently turn the page of the book it's reading. (Now that's a trick worth learning.)
4.   Snuffs out its half-smoked cigarette.
5.   Dumps it, ashtray and all, into the (fortunately empty) trash can.
6.   Waters its flowers with a garden hose.
7.    Mows the lawn. (With a hand mower. Good eco-conscious turkey.)
8.    Swings its leafblower along the garden path. (Smart turkey. Wearing something to protect its ears.)
9.    Fills its wildbird feeder.
10.  Hangs the bird feeder on a branch. (Seems to have a bit of trouble there, but no biggie.)
11.  Strolls into the garage.
12.  And happily kicks up its heels as the garage door closes.

All in all, that's sorta cute. Very active turkey. Doesn't matter that he's slow. Knows how to get stuff done and how to relax. A lesson we can all learn.

Turkey near the sidewalkOnly one misstep. Let's go back to step 8 up there. 'Cuz first of all, I think leafblowers are one of the worst inventions ever. (So are leaf vacuums, but at least they do collect the leaves for disposal. Stupidly wastefully, though.) Using all that fuel and emitting all that pollution and all those decibels to blow leaves off the sidewalk. Not even to collect them. Just to blow them away until the wind either blows them back or dumps them on your neighbor's sidewalk. How frikkin' lazy can you get? What happened to its eco-consciousness? Hey, jerkwad, stop being such a bozo, get out your broom or rake, and actually clean those loose leaves (or maybe grass clippings) up yourself! You could probably use the exercise. (Okay, admittedly raking leaves and shoveling snow are two of my favorite exercises. So maybe I'm prejudiced. But come on.)

But the real misstep is that there are no leaves (or grass clippings) on the turkey's paved path. Not a one in front of it. And no little piles blown onto the lawn behind it. None that I can see. Nada. Zero. Zip. Zilch. After all, the trees are still green. What was the director thinking? Too expensive to animate a few leaves (or a mat or two of clippings)? After animating the whole turkey? Gimme a break.

The second "turkey" is an actor I'm in no way, shape, or form enamored of anyway. Never have been. So when I have to endure one of his car commercials, I really am not motivated to suspend my disbelief nor brook any nonsense. And there's weird nonsense in all of them. Which, since he's also one of the producers, may make sense.

But this one is more than weird. It's seriously crazy weird. And it's offputting. At least to me.

Pool balls, rack, cues, and chalkActor and eight friends around a table eating and talking. Then everyone gets up to leave. Pretty abrupt, but whatever. Nor was I quite sure whose home it was, 'cuz even the actor left while someone else was still in the house. But on the way to the door, he encounters - like, from his frozen deer-in-the-headlights reaction, unexpectedly ... and irresistibly - a pool table with an unfinished game. Really? Who leaves a pool game unfinished? Obviously not him. 'Cuz he wanders over in a daze. Revs up for a vertical-cue, curving trick shot. Evades all obstacles, including the eight ball. And sinks the ball perched at the edge of the pocket. Without dropping the cueball. To the amazement of the friends watching from the door. Then he wanders out to his car and drives away. 'Cuz, you know, the car handles as amazingly as that cueball did. (Of course, if the car had to spin like that ball did, I wouldn't want to be in it.)

Turkey in full (narcissistic) displayThe editing, especially of the shorter cut (which I saw first), left me a little confused. Almost made it seem, at first, that he'd hit the cueball and then butted it again. I finally figured that out, anyway. (Though ya gotta like Steve Markle. The pro who actually pulled off that masse for the actor.) And we never know if the actor really just set all that up ahead of time to impress his friends, in which case I suppose one could opine maybe that masse was a blood test and he did pass it.

Anyway, for all the - well, introspective is a nicer word than narcissistic - flavor of this commercial series, I think this one takes the cake. And I really don't think the actor is playing a character. I think he's playing himself.

'Nuff said.

Tue, Apr 02, 2019 at 2:42 PM, Kim wrote:
Hey, Lucki
  Of the two turkeys - I didn't understand what you were saying, much less the point you were making, about the second turkey. The first one, I was right there with you on the leaf blower!
  Lucki responds to Kim:
  Perhaps you haven't seen the car commercial at all, as most of Fiji's cars are imported from Japan and South Korea, not the US (which accounts for well less than $1 million a year in Fiji car imports). Cars manufactured in North America simply can't compete with Asia and Australia given the shippping distances involved.

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Whose Is What?

So the guy is sitting with the gal on her sofa. His arm around her shoulder. And they want to get kissy. Don't know where or how far it's really headed; but okay, let's let them enjoy the moment as she shuts off the TV and they lean in

Only one problem. She has a chaperone.

Her dog. Her big dog. Her big, agile, over-friendly, insistent, attention-demanding dog.


= Emits a single, sharp bark.
= Bounds over the back of the sofa to get between them.
= Wriggles around half-upsidedown against their chests.

(Understand: dog's big enough that, even though the couple are no longer touching each other at all, it can sprawl across both of them and still have it's head, neck, shoulders, forepaws, and tail on the couch pillows.)

= Runs across their legs and along the couch from end to end.
= Plants itself in the guy's lap with its hindquarters tucked firmly in between him and his gal.

Dog doing bone math on a chalkboardThat's one smart pet she's got there, don't you think?

Well, once he gets out from under the dog, the guy does what any guy would do. He goes shopping. For, you know, just the thing.

And he comes back with just the thing. Just the thingS. Plural. Gal and dog greet him at the door. He flourishes the thingS. Gal says "Aww." Dog says "Arff." They obviously love his thoughtful thingS.

Only one problem. Because of how they're all standing in the doorway, he's presenting the dog with a big multi-color bouquet. And the gal with a big chew-toy bone.

(And yes, of course I realize that was a double entendre. Intended or un. Either way, chalk it up to the director, right?)

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Whose Idea?

This guy is a head honcho. Maybe the CEO who has to report to his Board. Or maybe he's lower on the totem pole. We don't really know. But we do know he has a quick chat with someone downline of him. Let's call her a department head. And the (possibly) CEO tells her the company must economize on something. Obviously he doesn't know on what, or he'd tell her on what. Guess he's hoping for inspiration from his staff.

So the (possibly) department head has a quick chat with someone downline of her. Let's call him a frontline manager. And she tells him the company must economize on something. Obviously she doesn't know on what, or she'd tell him on what. Guess she's hoping for inspiration from someone.

And the (possibly) frontline manager has a quick chat with someone downline of him. An intern. Just about as far downline as you can get and still be there at all. And he tells the intern that the company must economize on something. Obviously he doesn't know on what, or he'd say on what. Guess he's hoping for inspiration from somewhere.

Well, the intern tells him about a simple way to save. A good way. Really? Yes. Wow, what an idea!

So he promptly runs to the (maybe) department head and tells her about this simple way to save. Never mentioning the intern.

And she promptly runs to the (maybe) CEO and tells him about this simple way to save. Never mentioning the frontline manager.

Stealing an idea from a subordinateAnd the CEO is ecstatic. A simple way to save. He's glad he thought of it.

The question is: Do I really want to trust or purchase anything from a business that thinks stealing other people's ideas and claiming them as your own, just to make points with your boss(es), is humorous? Or should ever be touted as part of anyone's corporate culture? I mean, what does that say about their corporate culture?

The Bahá'í Writings talk about this kind of thing. While in Paris, 'Abdul-Bahá was asked, "Should Prayer take the form of action?" He responded, "Yes: In the Bahá'í Cause arts, sciences and all crafts are (counted as) worship. The man who makes a piece of notepaper to the best of his ability, conscientiously, concentrating all his forces on perfecting it, is giving praise to God. Briefly, all effort and exertion put forth by man from the fullness of his  heart is worship, if it is prompted by the highest motives and the will to do service to humanity. This is worship: to serve mankind and to minister to the needs of the people. Service is prayer."

He based his answer on things his father, Bahá'u'lláh, said. Like "It is made incumbent on every one of you to engage in some occupation, such as arts, trades, and the like. We have made this -- your occupation -- identical with the worship of God, the True One." 'Abdul-Bahá also once wrote that "...each child must be taught a profession, art, or trade, so that every member of the community will be enabled to earn his own livelihood. Work done in the spirit of service is the highest form of worship."

Shoghi Effendi also wrote that one of the principles of the Bahá'í Faith was "the exaltation of work, performed in the spirit of service, to the rank of worship" and, to ensure Bahá'í communities would keep this in mind, reminded our National Spiritual Assembly here that "work, specially when performed in the spirit of service, is according to Bahá'u'lláh a form of worship."

Can't be much clearer than that. But in the ad, their credit-stealing at work wasn't worship. It wasn't high motives. It wasn't true service. It was stealing. No one even ever said thank you. And if they're okay with treating each other that way, what are they doing to us customers? Just askin'.

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