27 March 2006

Who thought of that?

Commercials have vastly improved since the advent of commercials. Conversely, they’ve also gotten worse. I wonder each day how some marketing ideas get past the brainstorming stage. Someone actually thought they had a good idea and convinced someone else it was good AND to pay for it. How do I get that job?

A few examples:
The creepy Burger King “King”…many people have a fear of masks, or clowns so hey I know! Let’s put one in a commercial. What a *great* idea! And Burger King should definitely fire their advertising agents at this point; the horrifyingly bad Super Bowl commercial is proof positive of that. No one knows who Busby Berkley is anymore.

And what Rocket Scientist came up with the latest Kotex ads and packaging? Anything remotely related to a woman’s hygiene product should NOT…let me say that again…NOT NOT NOT include any red spots, splotches or splashes. What the hell were they thinking? That it’s beautiful? Ummm no. That we’re supposed to look at the mess like Rohrsach tests? Oh Hell No.

I’m not sure what Cat People did to insult the advertising community, but they sure have pissed someone off. There’s no other rational explanation for any number of the cat food commercials. I’ve even heard romantic music in the background…to borrow a line from the movie The Truth About Cats & Dogs… “It’s okay to love your pets but it’s not okay to LOVE your pets.”

Are cars or mattresses ever NOT on sale? And can we turn the volume down? Just a little?

The one that made me yell at the television the most recently is a lotion ad. Something about Freedom is not having dry skin. Um, really? Let’s talk to someone from a Third World country and see if they agree with that thought.

Also, I have noticed that every few years there is a new neurosis that is to be sold to the American people. Right now it’s sleep related: sleeping pills, special mattresses. Last year it was teeth-whitening products. The ongoing hair struggle is always changing. There’s always something to worry about when it’s your hair. I even saw a commercial for darkening a man’s beard, not his hair. His beard. Because that will make all the difference, I’m sure.

However, the use of songs has improved commercials, if only to catch people’s attention. The new Nike ad with Back in Black by AC/DC…I’m not sure of the correlation of the song and the product, but I don’t care. It’s a rocking song. The new Old Navy jingle is fun and happy.

One of the Dodge ads feature a song with the lyric “Now you’re messing with a son-of-a-bitch” Of course, they’ve left that out but anyone who knows the song, hears it. It’s a great little inside joke.

Use of popular music can also go horribly wrong. “Crumbelievable” is an abomination.
One of the commercials uses the song Ina Godda Davida. It’s about retirement funds, I think. How’s that for a gut check? Feeling old now? And what the hell does the song have to do with retirement funds?

I do feel badly for people who are my parents age. The advertisers are marketing to our generation (The X one) and it must be horrifying to the older generations. I’m sure the mute button is the most used button on the remote in homes of the over 70 generation.

Not all commercials are stupid. Some of my faves:
The Geico ads are fabulous. The Gecko is cute, especially the newest version with the Australian accent. The Neanderthals are one of my favorites ever. How they made them look so indignant, a complicated emotion (or so we thought) for a Neanderthal is beyond me. The irony of him ordering the roast duck with the mango salsa, a rather sophisticated dining choice for oh, a Neanderthal makes me giggle as well.

The latest T-Mobile ads make me giggle too. We’ve all known people like the realtor or the little cheerleader. We all know, or ARE, the people cell phone addiction.

Ooh, and one of my new favorites is CareerBuilder.com. It’s a little play off of The Office but with actual monkeys.

One of the local ads that I hope are used elsewhere are for the Credit Union Association. It has a fun little jingle that one finds themselves singing along to.

Another ad we've noticed is an insurance bureau ad with little clay, toy soldier-style people. It begins with a woman coming out from her house while others join her, creating a network. The funny thing about this is that she has what the Mad Genius calls Impressive Cleavage.
It seems like it’s a little inside joke from the creators of this ad who may not have been totally satisfied with it.

Some friendly advice to the Advertising community from my humble self: Entertain us, catch our attention, and make it fun to watch. Don’t patronize or insult us. We’re smarter than that. This is not the generation of dancing aspirins and Queen for a Day.
Think Super Bowl ads (the successful ones, by the way) without the million dollar budgets. You don't have to spend a million dollars to make a good commercial.

Keepsakes, Memories or Betrayal?

We were just watching an episode of Everyone Loves Raymond. This sitcom often mimics my life, which is a little disconcerting. Ray is sarcastic & witty like my husband; his brother is much like my brother-in-law, whom also lives next door. His parents are a terrifying mixture of my parents and his parents. My in-laws too will soon be living next door.

The episode discusses the meaning behind keeping keepsakes from former flames. In this case, Raymond kept a casette tape with his girlfriends voice on it. As the show unfolds, we find that Debra had placed keepsakes throughout the house. This is where I trip a little bit. Sure, I have keepsakes but they are tucked away securely in a tote in a closet, not displayed in our home. I think that is kind of a, I don't know if betrayal is the right word here...a sin of omission, perhaps.

So, just to check myself I looked around our home and took inventory. I have nothing beyond books from my past life, which includes a marriage. If anything, we still have a few items that were my husband's ex-wife. (A set of canisters that I love!)

I can't imagine having something around that reminded me of someone like that. In fact, Debra even has a picture frame - a rather benign item - but it is in their bedroom. I can't imagine that.

Keepsakes that I have kept are scrapbook kind of things. Things that make me smile or remind me of that time or person. I keep it for my own personal enjoyment (makes it sound like an adult toy! oh my!) I would never think of having it where my husband would see it. Not because I have anything to hide but because why would I put in his face like that?

I made two boxes when I was moving out of our first apartment and into our first house. I called them the icky boxes. I put in anything that my husband had that reminded him, or that he kept, of his ex-wife. I put in anything that was related to my ex-husband. It is up in the closet in case one of us ever gets nostalgic and wishes to visit or past. I am sure some day we will get rid of it entirely. I bet if I mentioned that I had it, my husband would ask to see it and then most likely throw at least half of it away.

Debra, for instance, even kept a leaky ice chest. Why? I mean, I get why but she has married now. Raymond used that! Used it with his kids. It just seems unfaithful.
Secondly what posessed her to TELL him about it in the first place? I can't imagine being that mean to the Mad Genius, even at my bitchiness.

By the way, I understand fully that it is a sitcom. I haven't had a break with reality. This sitcom just so closely resembles my life and I think it resembles many couples’ lives at one point.
I just found it interesting because it is something I would never consider. I just could never let them enter the current version of myself or my relationship. It just seems audacious.

Keepsakes are indeed important. They show you where you have been and who you were or hoped to become.

21 March 2006

Last American Virgin

My lifelong friend C has posed some very interesting thoughts to consider recently.
She emailed me not too long ago, asking me to break out my yearbook and answer some questions that had arisen regarding different people and pictures.
It was fun to leaf through and laugh, mostly, at how things had changed. Friends have moved on, some friends have stayed. What we once thought of as lifelong love has way moved on and what was important then surely isn't important now.
(Also, enough time has passed that our generation now qualifies for a dress-up day during Homecoming or Halloween. That is a shock to the psyche.)

But I digress. This so isn't my point.

We talked about past relationships and conquests, for lack of a better word.
We grew up in the excess of the eighties, pre-AIDS. There was a lot of focus on sex at the time. Sex was becoming more prominent in television and music. It was the age when music ratings first became a topic of discussion, for good reason.
There was Prince, need I say more, and the Brat Pack movies, which focused a lot on sex.

However, C and I were abnormal at the time, it seems, as we held onto our virginity until we were 18-ish while our other friends had experienced much more than us., much sooner than us.
It’s not to say that we were unattractive. We weren’t. It’s not to say that we didn’t date much. We did. Both of us tended to gravitate toward older guys. We weren’t religious. But we still didn’t give it up until later in our senior year. Our circle of friends was a mixed group. Some of us had sex with each other. Some of us were virgins. It wasn’t like we did what our friends were doing.

At the time, neither of us could see the point of having sex for the sake of having sex. Neither could we understand our friends who were heartbroken when they slept with random guys whom never called again. Perhaps we were more mature than most, but that’s hard to believe.

So, a couple of things to ponder:
Was our high school experience with sex a cultural thing? Was it because it was the 80’s?
Was it because we attended a small, dare I say, redneck school?
Was it because it was more acceptable at the time? Or perhaps less acceptable, thus more importance placed up on it?

Maybe it was because of all of the above.
We did go to a small school, our class graduated probably just under 200. I did hear the statement "Well, there’s nothing else to do here." We didn’t have sex ed classes, per se. Condoms were more for decorating cars and blowing balloons than for actual use.
I guess, maybe, there was a degree of coolness if we knew the couples stayed together. Conversely, there was definitely a degree of sluttiness of the girls who were with random guys.

I remember watching Fast Times at Ridgemont High and not quite understanding it. Now I know it’s because I didn’t give it up at an early age. It wasn’t part of my reality yet. Now I totally see the point of the movie. It’s more of a grown-up movie than a teen movie, really. Watch it again, if you get the chance, you’ll see what I’m saying.
I also watched "Can’t Hardly Wait" the other day. (there was nothing else on. It caught my attention because it has all the new actors before they were stars.)
Anyway, it’s a story about how after high school, every thing changes. Again, like Fast Times, it is a story for grown-ups more so than teens. It shows couples breaking up; it shows people discovering each other beyond image. It shows the cool kid that he is not so cool. It should be required viewing for exiting high school seniors, not that they’ll get it.

Another conclusion we came to is that losing our virginity was a momentous time but it wasn’t all wine and roses like the media would have girls believe. I don’t think we are the abnormal either.
For the most part, I think there is a lot of backseat, prom night drunkenness, parent’s basements, episodes. Surely, there are the stories where it was right time and the right place and the right person. But mostly, I think it wasn’t for most people. Maybe I’m wrong.

And, as I write this, this is SO not a conversation that would have ever occurred while I was in high school. While sex was prominent, we didn’t actually talk about it unless it was gossip (and then it was in generalities) or sharing with your best friend.
I’m sure part of the reason this is being discussed now is because we don’t have to look at each other while we’re "talking" about it. (:-D hahaha.

So, again, I have no point. I just found the whole thing interesting. This is just one of the topics that I have found my viewpoint changing with age.

Sam and Ella

Sam and Ella are not welcome in my house, any any more. And they can take the f@#$ing orange juice with them. Rude! *hair toss*

I had the distinct displeasure of food poisoning on Sunday night. The only thing we cant think of is Orange Juice. It's the only thing that I had differently than the Mad Genius.

I have neber been so sick in my life. Had the MG walked in with a handgun, I would have gladly used it.
I will hopefully never visit with them again.

What horrible houseguests! I'm glad they're gone.

But I did get a day off of work from them, so maybe it evens out.

Ummm. NO.

16 March 2006


First Graders are right: Boys have cooties. They have boy germs.

As grown-ups our perception of cooties is different. You might not think about cooties but they don’t go away just because we grew up. We just forget.

When we were little, cooties were often just a ruse in which to play with the boys. It wasn’t a negative thing at all, just a ploy to get their attention.

Now, we still are susceptible to cooties. It just comes in different forms.

Cooties come from:

Former boyfriends…fond – or not so fond – memories, brought on by a song, a scent, even a taste.

Random strangers…Flirting with the repairman or a client or a guy in the coffee shop. We still vye for boys attention, even as grown-ups.

Those of us who are star struck. "I'll never wash my hand again" when you shake a stars hand.

That creepy salesman. You *immediately* want/need to wash your hands.

Our sons. Slobbery little boy kisses.

Our husbands…our rings or other jewelry that we wear daily and again, memories. In this case, cooties are terminal, permanent. All going well, cooties are chronic when you are married and like any chronic illness, some days it is manageable and others it is inflamed.

So, you see it's the same as when we were first graders. Adults just seem to build up a resistance and not notice the symptoms.

Cooties: an oft unspoken, untreated epidemic.

13 March 2006

The Joy of Cell

I used to think cell phones were pretentious. In the early days of cell phones, only the well-to-do and important people had cell phones. It was also about image. Now, everyone – including children – have them. They have become a basic need.
One wonders what we did before them. I’ll tell you what we did…we forgot milk, we missed appointments, we didn’t talk to our spouses, friends or family nearly as much.

Now cell phones are a lifeline. I can’t imagine being without it and I am not even that obsessive about it as some people. (*ahem* the mad genius *cough* ) Now, a person doesn’t leave the house without one. I will turn around and get it if I have forgotten and, Oh My God, the panic that ensues if we misplace our phones.

But it truly has become my lifeline. If I have a bad day, my husband or friends are a button push away. If I miss my mom, I can call her even though I am shopping or driving. I have a long-ish, rural commute, which involves a mountain pass. Now I don’t even think twice about my drive. It used to be I would call the Mad Genius before I left to let him know I was coming so he would know if something happened. Now I call him to see if he wants take-out for dinner…which I can call and order with my cell phone.

I do think the cell phone is one of the best inventions in history. I know they are annoying sometimes and it is important to “unplug” once in awhile. But I truly think I would have withdrawals without it. I think my marriage would be different without it.

And I haven’t even mentioned Texting! It is a whole other language and communication system. It is a conversation without the commitment. This is a wonderful thing as well.
My husband and I use it usually when we want to communicate but it is not “important” enough for an actual call. I have one text (in jest) that I’ve saved that says “F&*#ing HELLO!?!?!?!?” from the Mad Genius after I failed to answer any of my missed calls on a busy day. It just makes me giggle.
And it would only make me giggle. If someone found or borrowed my phone, they would probably be horrified.

Cell phones have also become our Little Black Books. I have numbers saved on there that although benign, Randy has no idea who they are; as I am sure, he does too. The movie “Little Black Book” addresses that (pun intended, btw) issue in a very clear way. How many affairs have been discovered by a “snooping” spouse who has found texts or numbers? Another good use of cell phones, by the way.

So, as evil as they can be…they’re here and I’m glad of it. They're a New-Age communication tool. They're a life-saver, literally. They're convenient. They're a babysitter. (not in a Jude Law sort of way...or maybe?)

Ahhh, the joy of Cell.

Seasoning Salt

My parents and my in-laws are considering death.

No, they’re not suicidal; it is not a cult-thing, just aging; which I guess is rather cult-like.

My parents are long-retired and my in-laws are semi-retired. I’ve noticed that the older they get, the more they talk about it. As a young person (don’t laugh, I’m young by some standards) this is disconcerting.

So, my parents have their final wishes all taken care of. I am pleased that they have planned ahead so we don’t have to deal with all the of the details when the time comes. I am also pleased that they are still here to hear our comments on their wishes.

My mom wants to be cremated and “You get to take me on an airplane ride” she announces a little proudly. It turns out that she wants to be scattered over the mountain that she sees every day from her front windows.
As the executor of the will and the youngest, I’m sure that I am the automatic loser (literally) of the upcoming Paper-Rock-Scissors game that I’ll play with my brothers to determine who’s going up in said airplane.

Now, my dad is a whole other story, as he usually is. He is going to be Lowery’s Seasoning Salt of the Earth. He is going about five different places. It is a clever idea really, just a logistical nightmare.
He was a construction worker and built many of the bridges where we live. He would like to be scattered off of each bridge that he worked on, encompassing three counties.
As my husband said, “Wow, you’re going to have a long day.”
My brother-in-law commented about not doing it and I said that my dad was difficult enough to live with in real life, I can’t imagine in afterlife. To which, my husband the mad genius quipped “Remember how happy we were BEFORE your dad lived with us?”
Funny, funny stuff about an unfunny topic.

Oh, and I forgot to mention, his individual baggies each have “funny” sayings on them to be read as we scatter. I can only imagine what they may be.

So, now the heart-touching part. The Hallmark Moment.

My in-laws will be living with us during their retirement. They won’t actually be living WITH us but on our property in a small camper/RV/camper thing. It’s not as redneck as it sounds. But I digress as usual.

In the meantime, they have been fixing up our houses. (my brother-in-law lives next door, we’re just one happy family…just don’t drink the Kool-Aid)
They’re working in our yards, building fences, etc. My father-in-law is going to have the biggest backyard ever when they move here. They're very excited.

They bought us our first Christmas tree for the Malibu Barbie Dream House. It is a live tree and it has since been planted in our yard. Well, as it comes about, they would like to be either scattered or buried underneath our tree when they pass. They are also going to buy a tree for the b-i-l. These instructions were given to my husband in a very loving and tearful speech by my father-in-law during the holidays. My husband can barely re-tell the story without welling.

So, sort of in my dad’s tradition, they are going to be scattered about our properties as well. One big, happy family in life as well as death.

So, they are very creative, the lot of them. Each adding a little of themselves to our world as they did in life and each of them in their own personal way.

Walking on Sunshine

I have been listening to Sirius radio a lot recently. I mainly stay on the 80’s channel. It is my generational music, a veritable soundtrack to my teenage years. I can attach a year, an instance, and/or a person with most songs. I am sure that most people have that capability. Music is an easy timeline for many people. I found myself in a good mood while listening, I was more productive and happy.

Upon retrospective, I have noticed is that the 80’s music is upbeat, for the most part. Sure there is the Chicago “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” and anything Air Supply…aptly titled the Band that can Make a Happy Man Cry by a childhood friend.
For the most part, however, it’s happy music. Walking on Sunshine, Girls just Wanna have Fun. Anything Hair band!
(They have their own channel on Sirius, which is fun if you need an adrenaline rush)

So, to take it further, I thought about music and generations. I wonder if music and the happenings of any one generation are correlated? The sixties were very tumultuous and toward the end of the decade, the music reflected it.

The 80’s were about excess and the music reflected it. The 90’s were the crash of the boom of the 80’s and the angst-filled music reflects it.

The fifties, the baby boomer generation, is filled with fun and upbeat music. It is the decade of rock and roll.

The “Roaring Twenties” is another good example of music reflective of the time. Even music about prohibition is was up-tempo.

The 40's was a war generation, recovering from the Depression and the first World War only to enter into another World War. I think, with my limited knowledge of that generation, that the music does reflect the generation. Lots of songs like "I'll Be Seeing You."

Another thing to consider is, perhaps, the music of the 80’s is upbeat to me specifically because that is my personal soundtrack. For someone that came of age in the 60’s, their perspective might be different.

And yet another thing: Music is also so much more diverse now.
It used to be four categories: Rock & Roll – or Pop be it as it may, Country, Jazz and Classical. Now there are so many categories that a person can’t possibly list one single favorite. Just look at the list of station Sirius offers. There are four different types, too many to list actually, of Country, Pop, Rock, Classical, New Age, World.

Now there is a whole different category specific to the current generation: Hip Hop.
Nothing makes me feel older than hip-hop. I feel like I've become my parents, I just don’t get it. Sure, there are songs that I like but for the most part, no thanks. Is it just because I don’t understand it? Would I like it if I were 16 years old right now? (unlikely, I was a hair-band fan in the late 80’s) Will I like it in the future as it grows and progresses? Who knows?

So, is the music of the 80’s more upbeat or is it my perspective? Is music truly reflective of the times? Isn’t it funny how music is a polarization of generations? So many things to think of!