Saturday, January 23, 2010

For the Modern Woman

Monday, January 18, 2010

Faux butter faux pas

When they named their product I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, Unilever pretty much spelled out the main product benefit.  It is not butter, and yet it tastes like butter.  This is fairly straightforward, and up until now their advertising has focused on this mirage.  You may remember the long-running campaign where someone lifts the lid of the tub and the tub says, "Butter."  It was simple and straight to the point.

Unfortunately, someone over at faux-butter headquarters decided that they could no longer depend on their namesake shock and awe campaign to bring in consumers.  Instead, they have jumped on the trans-fat bandwagon and somehow convinced Emmy award-winning actress Megan Mullally to come along for the ride.  The result is a contrived musical number outlining the nutritional benefits of laying off the butter, called Turn the Tub Around, that has only succeeded in getting me to turn the volume down every time it comes on.  In fact, lyrical idiocy aside, the video quality is so washed out (supposedly to imply a grocery store dream sequence) that I thought the commerical was shot in the late 80s and dragged out of the vault to save some money in these tight economic times.  It's so bad it's funny.  And I mean sad funny, not funny in that hip ironic way.

If you're looking for a way to entertain guests at your next house party while simultaneously educating them on the positive attributes of your favorite butter substitute, the good people at I Can't Believe It's Not Butter have also provided a karaoke version of the song.  I wish I were kidding.

They probably would have been better off just latching on the pop-culture status of their Asian counterpart...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Decisions, decisions

It's reassuring to know that sometimes even heroes have trouble deciding what to wear.  Personally, I think I would go for that sultry spring.  You can vote for this design to be made into a t-shirt at Split Reason.

Mario's Closet @
Mario's Closet design @ ©

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Cadillac of Guilty Pleasures

Anyone who knows me well will already know that I am a huge fan of Survivor.  I have watched every season since the very first.  When I was living in China my dad would tape the show every week and mail me a DVD once a month.  At this point I have pretty much subjected everyone I know to at least one episode, and even brought a few into the fold. 

Part of why I love the show so much is its ability to remove me completely from reality.  Ironic, I know, given that the show is credited for the birth of reality show popularity in America.  But, when you think about it, it really is the farthest you can get from reality.  When I picture "reality," I don't exactly imagine someone living in a lush tropical environment with an intentionally diverse group of people supplied with clean water and given prizes for completing contrived obstacle courses.  It may not be real, but it's remarkably entertaining.  Plus the presence of Jeff Probst is, in a way, an example of the American dream.  One day he's hosting Rock'n'Roll Jeopardy in a boring old studio set on VH1 and the next he's jetting around the world living in beach resorts as the host of Survivor.  Way to go, Probst.

So, the announcement of their 10-year anniversary show was met with much excitement in my house.  Instead of a traditional all-star game (as they've done previously), CBS recently unveiled the cast of Heroes vs. Villians.  They teamed up 10 of the meanest, slimiest players and 10 of the sweetest, morally pure players for an epic battle to the death.  Yes, please.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Glory of Infomercials

An insomniac since childhood, I have long been acquainted with what some consider the bane of late-night television: infomercials. However, unlike your average viewer, I happen to love paid programming. There is a strange sincerity in the overt enthusiasm of a tv salesman. Even though he may only be selling a mop, he is going to sell it as if it were the only product he would ever recommend to you. You cannot live without this mop. He wants you to own this mop because he cares about your health and the health of your family. He is amazed at the engineering breakthrough that this mop represents. He is confident that this mop is going to change the world, one sticky floor at a time.

Like the added bonus of a booklight or talking picture frame, weekend mornings give me an extra dose of those bizarre and unusual product pitches to watch and enjoy. Inevitably, I end up browsing the As Seen on TV website looking for more unique products that I never knew I couldn't live without. What never ceases to amaze me is the unbelievable quantity of products that are offered for sale. I'd like to share a few of my favorites among today's finds.

1. Mighty MendIt

Through the magic of Billy Mays (who will be greatly missed), I have learned that even professional skydivers are sometimes too lazy to actually sew a patch on a torn parachute. Luckily for them Mighty MendIt is made of some space-age polymer that, when combined with sloth and fabric, binds things back together using only as much energy as it takes to squeeze a tube. He reassures me that it is not glue (which is good, because I was worried) and that repairs made with Mighty MendIt can withstand even storm-force winds:

If the makers of Mighty MendIt believe in their product enough to build a wind tunnel testing center, and risk destroying an American flag, it must really be something special. All teasing aside, the bottom line is that more often than not I am also too lazy to sew torn clothing and I would glady welcome whatever space-age polymer is available to proliferate that laziness.

2. Paperoni

First of all, the name is fantastic. Just say it out loud a few times: Paperoni. While sitting in a room full of paper tubes that vaguely resemble neon Slim Jims the inventors of this children's craft decided not to play it safe. They didn't go with something simple like "Paper Fun Time" or "Totally Tubular," instead choosing a name that sounded like a cross between dog treats and truck-stop snacks.

More important than the name is the fact that you are essentially paying money to receive a bundle of rolled-up paper, some sticky paper, and a device that cuts paper. I suspect that you already own everything you need to create your own knock-off Paperoni from scratch, although if you are like me you lack the motivation to actually do it. Plus, ordering directly from the source means that you get a series of templates and 3-D animals molds. Without the molds, you would never know the joy of watching your child construct this slightly disturbing looking monkey:
3. Big Top Cupcake

Last, but in no way least, I present to you the Big Top Cupcake. Honestly, there is no way that I can do this commercial justice. The designers of this product invented a need and filled that need. Then, they filled that filled need with pudding. Genius.

Friday, January 8, 2010

How Dunkin Donuts won my heart (for now)

Dunkin Donuts is currently running a commercial with a man hocking counterfeit breakfast items from a fold-out box in front of an office building. It's another ad that I want to hate, but somehow it makes me laugh every time I see it and I forget about my reservations. I want to hate it because its main message declares the Dunkin breakfast options to be "real" food. I am pretty sick and tired of the "real" angle used more subtly by McDonald's and much less subtly by Wendy's. Dear lord, if I hear that awful Wendy's jingle one more time I might actually vomit.

I understand that the fast food giants want to reassure us about how their menu items are freshly and lovingly prepared because that makes us feel almost comfortable about eating at their restaurants. However, the bottom line is that their food is processed. It is mass-produced. It is scientifically engineered. It is also delicious. Personally, I think they should just own up to their shortcomings and embrace the taste factor. Remind me how happy I feel when I cram McNuggets into my cheeks like a hibernating squirrel and I might be inclined to forget about my diet for a day.

All this being said, I still love this Dunkin Donuts ad for one simple reason. Actually, it's one simple word: "breakfastsis." I wish I could find a video of the ad for your viewing pleasure, but it is mysteriously absent on the web.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Happy as a... seal?

If you are in withdrawal from the delightful antics of the so-called "crasher squirrel," then have no fear. There is a new photo-crashing animal in town, and he is one cool customer. Meet "crasher seal," the latest candid camera moment to emerge from the world of nature photography.

I seriously want to pinch his cheeks, he is so adorable. In a strange way, it reminds me a little of the thought behind one of my favorite Far Side comics, "The Holsteins Visit the Grand Canyon." There is something about animals mimicking human pranksters that really tickles my funny bone. I'd share a copy of the comic, but then Gary Larson will sue me. So, I guess that just means more love for the seal.

Friday, January 1, 2010

arise, my soul; and sing

This is the time of year when I inevitably find myself awash in cliches of fitness and organization and self-discovery. I'm sure that for some people it is reassuring to embrace the "new me" fresh start that a new year can offer, but I see things just a little differently. This year my resolution (for lack of a more appropriate and less cliche term) is to reclaim the old me. I am determined to remember what drives me, what lights the creative spark that used to consume me. I used to write volumes and volumes, late into the night until my fingers cramped and my eyes went blurry. Poetry was an elixir that brought me to life, and I'm hoping it can work its magic at least one more time. For me, 2010 is the year of the pen.

now does our world descend

now does our world descend
the path to nothingness
(cruel now cancels kind;
friends turn to enemies)
therefore lament,my dream
and don a doer's doom

create is now contrive;
imagined,merely know
(freedom:what makes a slave)
therefore,my life,lie down
and more by most endure
all that you never were

hide,poor dishonoured mind
who thought yourself so wise;
and much could understand
concerning no and yes:
if they've become the same
it's time you unbecame

where climbing was and bright
is darkness and to fall
(now wrong's the only right
since brave are cowards all)
therefore despair,my heart
and die into the dirt

but from this endless end
of briefer each our bliss--
where seeing eyes go blind
(where lips forget to kiss)
where everything's nothing
--arise,my soul;and sing
(e.e. cummings)
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