Monday, November 27, 2006

Mutating Commercials

Are you an avid TV watcher?
Do you watch the same commercial over and over (especially on the Discovery, History and National Geographic channels)?
Do you have a choice?
And when you have these delectable morsels of art and culture memorized, do you notice slight differences in the retelling?
Are you slowly going nuts? Is TV really the brainwasher we've all been brainwashed to believe?
Well, fret no more, my televisual freund, you are not going crazy. The commercials have been edited.
Want some examples? I thought you would...

The AXA Equitable commercial

This is the commerical starring a couple in their 50's and a 500 pound silverback alpha male mountain gorilla with the power of speech and an uncanny knowledge of retirement investment options. In these spots (and there are two of them) the couple pretends to ignore the gorilla while, with the help of his trusty laptop, which does nothing more than show the AXA logo, he chastises the couple for not using AXA to get their retirement annuities started. Then he closes with "But what do I know? I'm just the 500 pound gorilla in the room."
In the first spot, the couple is having breakfast. In the second one, they are trying to sleep for the evening. In the first spot I remember the gorilla saying this "I couldn't sleep at night knowing that you didn't save, heck, invest in an AXA mutual fund or annuity." Now he says the same thing, but replaces 'heck' with 'even'. Why? Did heck offend somebody? Was it too lowbrow for the highbrows? They then add a line while the gorilla is off-camera: "Give AXA a call." I can understand this addition as AXA probably felt they weren't making it clear that it would be AXA and not the gorilla that would help people invest.
In the second spot, he finishes his spiel and leaves the bedroom. He used to say, "Good night." and then he turns off the lightswitch. But in the new edited version the gorilla concludes with "Give them a call... for me." So, if you noticed any differences in the new spots, you're not crazy, you're just attentive...maybe too much so (myself included, obviously).

The Tractor Supply commercial
Talk about cheap-ass! No actors. No suits. No animation. No computer graphics. Just a bunch of stationary, motionless, handpainted wooden dolls. I suppose someone thought that this would appeal to the rural crowd, (what farmer or hunter can say no to crafted wood?) but I think it's a stretch. Anyway, in their Christmas spot, the two wives of the two farmer protagonists are decorating a Christmas tree in one of their homes. The camera flashes back and forth between the two female dolls so we know who is talking because with motionless dolls we have to have that. The short-haired one comments on how she had the boys help out at the mall for Christmas. Then we are shown the two men in a nativity scene dressed as shepherds. On a close up of one of them (presumably the husband of the short-haired doll), he says, "Sweet Molly in a manger." Fin.
I didn't think it was funny, but then again, I don't find any of the Tractor Supply commercials very funny. But the edited version is strangely brief. In the first version, after the short-haired wife makes her comment, the camera shows the other wife (a blonde I think) who says, "Well, that was nice of them to do that." The new version cuts that retort out completely. And instead of "Sweet Molly in a manger" he get "Hmmmm..."
Same lack of humor. Different package.
Why did they even bother? What was the point of this edit? Again, someone probably found "Sweet Molly in a manger" discomforting or even sacriligious, after all, it was Sweet Mary that was in the manger. And why should she be Sweet? Was the sedentary, wooden farmer lusting after her? I dunno. This whole commercial is a waste of time. Almost as bad any Verizon commercial. If I see that Buddy Holly lookin' asshole and his cadre of Verizon employees one more time on TV, I'm gonna vomit! But there was one good one: the one where the company is having a meeting about using their laptops anwhere in the US, and each of the members mentions a place and the salesman/IT guy says "No problem". The look on the blonde guy while he is going through his "Vegas, baby! Yeah!" and discovers that his boss is right behind him is priceless humor. But that's me.

The Travelocity commercials

What is it with immobile, wooden dolls? It's cheap-ass, that's what!
But I must admit that I kinda liked their commercials. I mean, seeing the gnome get run over by a clothes rack, knock over people's drinks while floating on a lawnchair with helium balloons and finally getting electrocuted in the klieglights of a football stadium. I got a chuckle.
But the latest one, about the Bermuda Triangle, was simple ho-hum fare. Except recently...
I was watching NGC (that's National Geographic Channel, not New Galactic Catalogue for those astronomers out there), and noticed that the gnome was replaced! They now have a dumb-looking fat guy wearing a pointy red hat and liederhosen mouthing the same words, verbatim, that the garden gnome used to say. It was the same commercial -- just a different gnome. I kept waiting for a follow-up commercial to explain it, but nothing. That was weird...
Eventually, an explanatory commercial did show. Some dumb bitch named Mary O'Hara posing as an investigative reporter is on the trail for the roaming gnome. Her lame report is on Please do not visit this website despite my link. It's like your kid going to so he can find Twister McGee for the Cheetos Cheetah. I mean, I went there and got retarded by exposure.
And why is Mary O'Hara latino??
On the other hand why is Brian Perez whiter than Wonder Bread?
The World May Never Know...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Well, There Went October

Not a single blog for October. What gives? I dunno. Had nothing to say I guess. Or I was too damn lazy to do what I am doing now (i.e. typing a blog entry).
My job is going well. I still make mountains out of molehills so I can never achieve a balanced and content state of mind. That is my new conundrum: how to still the ever worrying mind.
Therefore I am studying Buddhism in an effort to know myself better and hopefully to quell these disparate and bothersome thoughts that pervade my everyday life.
Today, however was a good day. Tomorrow... who knows?

So what's new?
I had a very good time with an old friend from way back. We will just call her D. I haven't seen her in twenty years and after finding each other while conversing about a twenty year reunion that neither of us attended, we decided to exchange e-mails and phone calls. It felt good to finally hear from her again. She was the first girl I had a serious crush on in High School and you know what they say about first crushes...
So this past weekend (Halloween weekend, unbeknownst to me) D and I meet at a nice restaurant in Sacramento. I told her I would be half an hour late in getting there, but my foot protested and I ended up in Sacramento on schedule. D, however, was, how shall I put this, SUPER-LATE, but it gave me the opportunity to nurse a Cosmopolitan and watch the World Series and have bartenders and waitresses comment on my lonely state. In fact, D was trying desperately to call me and tell me she was going to be SUPER-LATE, but my phone as most of my friends already know is usually out of juice and sitting in some isolated dimension not far from Limbo, that is to say, my car. So I never got the message. Think of the film 'Immortal Beloved' or 'An Affair to Remember' except nobody composes a master symphony or gets hit by a car.
Finally, she arrives and we hug. Awwwwww. We eat appetizers. Pizzettas w/mushrooms. Yum. Mr. Cosmo meet Miss Cabernet Sauvignon. Yum. We motate. Now, D coined this illustrious verb and I am still wondering if it is some amalgam of mutate and motivate which means, I suppose, that we should be morphing uncontrollably while simultaneously moving toward a common destination. Oddly enough, it was we who remained static and everyone else was mutated... but I'm getting ahead of myself...
This next chapter I have entitled: Gimme Fiction sans Spoon or Gimme Chopsticks or maybe Gimme a goddamn glass of cold water....PLEASE for the LOVE of GOD!
Yes, my friends, we motated toward a sushi bar. I forget the name of it and D did too, but she knew the proprietors and the waiters here (come to think of it, she knew everyone at every place we went...hmmmm). Some dude with a red nose and a shirt that had emblazoned upon it the single word: CLOWN, seated us. And a petite, asian girl who D called by the singular name of 'slut', gave us our menus. The sushi was excellent. I mean excellent. And also fucking HOT! One of these bozo sushi chefs was jealous of my date with D and laced my shrimp in Hell Sauce. We had no water so I was forced to wash it down with cold Saki. Jeezus Christ! Don't ever do that. I also remember some lovely conversation which went from fifteen decibels to about two-hundred by the time we left. It was like some Conversational Bolero. And like Bolero it ends in a deflating crash as I down my fourth glass of Saki. Now, it should be known that Saki and I have a history...not a good one I might add.
Long ago, at the height of my Party Phase, I was at a person's house in Sacramento and it was a Halloween shinding come to think of it! And he had this Saki in a pot and under a flame. I drank it. I continued to drink it. End of Brian as a socially acute, intelligent, sentient being. When you drink this shit you are either Buddha or a slug. There is no Middle Way with Saki. As you might already be guessing, I tend toward the latter.
Anyway, I have four sakis in me. Note that. We then travel (we quit motating I think at this point) to the Bonn Lair which is a favourite haunt of Britons and Scots. We met the bartender and his wife and a man named Lou. This guy had me splitting my sides. His acerbic wit and British accent had me rolling. D was also in a fit of laughter as we both tried to stop laughing in front of this lass dressed as Wonder Woman (remember it's Halloween weekend) because... nevermind. Some things are not meant to be written. All I remember is the word 'Growler'. Which is unfortunate because I named a race of dog-men Growler in one of my novels. Looks like a name change is afoot. Not long after, a mob of costumed Dionysian revelers broke into the joint and I downed a couple Guinesses. (Cosmo+Red Wine+Saki+Guinesses)
Oh Damn! I almost forgot. We went to Tapa the World before the Bonn Lair. But there's not much to tell at that establishment, I'm afraid. I drank a beer with Satan and listened to a Flamenco guitarist, and had some more spirited conversation with D. That was all. D begged to leave that place, so I obliged her.
Back to the Bonn Lair... So we were witnessing a Bacchanalia with these wine-drunk revelers and D decided to take them to another place in her SUV. So we ferried these lost souls to the next and final stop in our Itinerary of Debauchery - a place whose name eludes me. Perhaps it's just as well. Maybe it was Hell. I'll never tell. Muhahahahaha.
Now this place was more my style: Pool table, shuffleboard, darts, dirty and rough. These are places I grew up with. It was only fitting that I end my night here. D is handing me MGD after MGD as I play a game of billiards with two mullet-headed individuals, one of which told me in no uncertain terms that Halloween was only an excuse for women to dress as sluts. Whatever. The Book of Drunken Etiquette demands I say "Hell, yeah!" and give him a high five, which of course I did. After the game, I remember a girl dressed in a Twister game mat and spinner (I almost spun it) and meeting a saint, who got a little pissed at me when I said I was a former seminarian. Then I went into the bathroom and did a comedy routine which lasted about five minutes (It's hard to tell duration when you're tanked).
Time to go home.
I wonder if anyone told the bartender that since the clock changed, we should get an extra hour of drunken fun. Nope. No one did.
D can't drive, and neither can I so she calls her brother. O Brother, Where Art Thou? He finally shows up and they drop me off at my car on J street. They leave.
Guess what I'm doing.
One New Years Party long ago, I lied to my aunt and said I would stay at her house rather than me driving drunk back home. I swore to her later that I would never do such a thing again. Not the lying part, but the drunk driving thing. So, my superego, which never leaves me even in this drunken stupor, demanded I sleep in the car. So I did. At 5 o'clock I wake up and drive home. It was a painful drive.
A week later I realize that my red tie is missing. You see, I wore a red tie with my grey microfibre shirt and I removed it before we hit the sushi joint. It was in her SUV. She e-mails me and says she would like to mail it to me.
I understand now.
My behavior was so raucous, so asinine, so immature even at my near-forty age that she didn't want to see me anymore. The old 'leave the tie behind' trick failed me. I have no excuse now to go see her again. She has seen through my deceit and will mail back my tie via UPS. Screw red, what can BROWN do for you?