Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Symmetry

Another one from the Radiolab.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

You guys are going to LA to shoot a spot!!!!!!!

Take a gander at this spot and see if anything strikes you as—oh, I don’t know—stupid or senseless or just plain sloppy. Watch it a couple times even if you've already seen it a hundred times on TV.

I personally think this “magic jingle” campaign is just plain terrible. The jack-asses in the car that gets hit by the buffalo, the den of slack that then gets filled with a hot tub, the LeBron one—just dreadful all around.

But this one stands out as somehow worse than the others. Lord knows what’s going through State Farm’s mind as they sign off on these*.

But let’s break this junior-team spot down, shall we?

We open on three stoned-out kids on the front lawn. For some reason there’s a concrete pipe on top of the car. Guess the kids were too ripped to hear the construction going on or the mighty crash of a ton of concrete onto a car.

Good rule of thumb here: either go really realistic (tree limb, light pole, hit and run) or go big (asteroid, space junk, one of those big fake dinosaurs they have out in the desert). Insightful or memorable, pick one. But a concrete pipe? It’s boring and raises too many obvious questions (i.e. why not just call the city or whoever dispatched the heavy equipment to the area and tell them to pay up! Problem solved without even affecting your premium.)

Alright, so the Jetta has been crushed. The kids stumble out to find it. The chick sings the jingle—poorly—and her agent shows up. Ok.

But then Puff and the Magic Dragon start dreaming up stuff to ask for. Naturally they go with a giant stuffed panda and Bob Barker (like he was a big part of their growing up, ya know).

But then the shit really hits the fan.

Bob Barker replaces the kinda decent Jetta with a fucking Geo Tracker! Or whatever that orange excuse for a car is. Meanwhile you’re thinking to yourself “well yeah, those kids may be higher than a fruit bat but they won’t go for that piece of crap.” Well hold onto your hat ‘cause they flip their shit for that 1990’s relic!

How high ARE these kids? Lord knows they shouldn’t be driving.

Did they miss the fact that a Geo Tracker is not even in the same automotive category! It’s not a sedan or an SUV or compact SUV—it’s a “rollover hazard!” Probably why they killed that brand in like 1993. It’s sure as hell no Jetta which is what I’d be expecting my new car to be.

Is that chick really all like “yeah, you know I had a VW but what I really wanted was one of those discontinued Geo’s. State Farm totally hooked me up. I’d have totally taken a Pontiac Aztec too.”

I’ve got more questions than you’ve got time but I’ve been really questioning how my premiums are being spent. If anyone worked on this or knows someone who worked on it I’d love to ask them some questions.

* It’s unlikely that State Farm really feels like the big revenue generators moving forward are 20 year olds who are perpetually high. The more likely thinking is that—like laundry detergent—once someone picks an insurance company they’re unlikely to change. So the goal is to get to them as soon as they leave the nest. These kids, however, seem like they’re not exactly what we like to call “out on their own.”

Friday, April 08, 2011

You wanna cut something?


Earlier this week I was watching the NCAA men’s basketball championship and for a solid 10 minutes before the game they did the whole “god praise the military” thing while Leann Rimes sang the national anthem in front of a gigantic flag while Jim Nantz went on and on about “honoring our brave men and women stationed around the world protecting our freedoms and liberty…” and some other buzzwords before finally they tacked a basketball game on to the end of it.

It’s a nice thought and all that and god bless the troops but man alive, do we really need that many goddamn people spread all over god’s creation?

So where’s the tea party railing against military spending? Why aren’t they screaming for cuts to something we could easily cut in half. Oh right, because it’s essentially one gigantic working welfare program. One that people from the forgotten parts of the country rely on pretty heavily.

Dropped out of school? Join the military! Didn’t go to college? Join the military! Failed out of college? Join the military! Can’t get a job at the plant because GE moved it to China? Join the military! Goldman Sachs sold out your city’s pension fund and your bonds are worthless now? Join the military!

We slash the crap out of every program under the sun and yet the military just keeps on hiring. It's like magic!

This is the point where I ask the obvious question: who are we fighting?

Granted we do have three wars going on right now but I wouldn’t say we’re exactly fighting dangerous countries there. Dangerous gangs, sure. But countries, no. I mean, these are places that don’t even have fully functioning electrical grids let alone the capacity to really hurt a major country like us.

So why are we in Afghanistan? The only reason it’s being used by the Taliban is because no one goes there. And why does no one go there? Because it’s stuck in the 16th century and makes most of its GDP from selling drugs. It’s the same reason gangs set up shop on the south side of LA: they know they won’t be bothered. Lord only knows how much scratch the Pentagon has spent there or how many overpriced, space-aged, see-in-the-dark gadgets we’ve taken with us over the past 9 years. But hey, guess who’s winning that one. That’s right, the guys on horseback wearing robes.

How ‘bout Iraq? Shit, if having a crazy guy as your leader was the test for whether we should invade a country then we’ve got a long list of places to hit. The world is full of crazy people.

Which brings us to Libya…

Wait, the crazy guy in a robe with a mustache and perma-shades is crazy? Well shut my mouth! Again, are we gonna keep traipsing around the globe solving every problem that comes up for the rest of our lives?

Yes, we probably will. After all, it’d be real tough to stop now. Think about it—if, like me, you’re in your thirties you’ve essentially spent about a third of your life involved in some kind of war. Is that normal?

It is in America. After all, we’re the “peaceful” nation.

Somehow despite living through the most peaceful time in modern history (we’ve had some flare ups for sure, but not one major war since 1945) our defense spending has grown steadily for over four decades now. In fact, it’s roughly doubled since the 1970’s. For the record, Korea and Vietnam were well before the explosion in spending. Why is that?

It’s because the same people who are now railing against “government spending” are also the ones going back to their home districts and distributing government cash to military bases, military contractors, weapons manufacturers and the rest of the defense contractors that likely employ half the people in their districts.

Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Halliburton, KBR—where do you think those massive companies’ revenue comes from? That’s right. It comes from each and every one of us, every April 15th, every year.

That’s where.

And yet to even speak of cutting military spending or finding a better way to use young men and women in the prime of their lives is considered blasphemous. Oh, we’ll slash salaries or eliminate jobs for teachers, librarians, firefighters and policemen without so much as blinking an eye. But don’t even talk about touching our precious military.

But think about it, right now as you read this there are literally hundreds of thousands of young people sitting around the globe “defending our freedom” from imagined (or, more accurately, 20th century) threats. Made up threats from countries that (even more bizarrely) are now our allies and trade partners. That makes no sense whatsoever.

Oh right, we also have a fucking massive stack of nukes so we should be good in terms of keeping the oppressors at bay.

Meanwhile our infrastructure back home is literally falling apart. Think about all the things we could put those same young people to work doing here. They could be building stuff, repairing stuff, cleaning stuff, modernizing stuff—getting us prepared for the 21st century. I mean, a couple of years ago we had a bridge collapse for no other reason than it was old and we just hadn’t taken the time or had the money to upkeep it. There are thousands of those all over the country. Not to mention dams, levees, roads, rail lines, airports, and the stuff we say we can’t afford to build but are inevitably gonna need soon. Things like high-speed rail or some magic way to make cleaner energy. Or say, broadband internet. There are parts of the country right now still using DSL! DSL, people! In 2011!

So what if we took the men and women of our military and put them on a more visionary path? We could still celebrate them but we’d celebrate the fact they’re making our country a better place to live, not just one with higher walls and bigger guns to keep bad guys out. I think that’d be something to be proud of. Probably more than going off to some shithole country to do…hell, I don’t even know what we’re doing in half those countries.

It’s not that I hate the military. I don’t. I just don’t believe in a full-time military or one that so many people consider a viable career path. I don’t believe in a military that’s blindly celebrated and funded without question while at the same time other just as honorable pursuits are slandered as “discretionary”. I value their service but I think we could all value their service far more if they were back here in the States.

Friday, April 01, 2011

LCD Week: #1 “All my friends”

Ahhh, this one. Seven and a half minutes that I think kind of summed up the 2000’s for many of us.

The 90’s seemed to fly by like a hippy’s Frisbee. There was high school then college and then my first job. But lord knows where else those years went. It felt like I was 20 years old for the entire decade.

Then one day the world blows up outside your window and then you turn 30 and move around some more and the next thing you know you’re old. Not old-old, of course. Just older. And things changed. You still have a good time but you’ve fallen out of touch with friends and made new ones and now you’re getting married and quite frankly, sometimes you’re just tired and want to stay home. Partying all night is a young man’s game. And I was never very good at it anyway.

You know what they say though, sooner or later you gotta grow up.

You spent the first five years trying to get with the plan/
And the next five years trying to be with your friends again/
But I wouldn't trade one stupid decision/
For another five years of life.


So here we go. Like a sales force into the night.