Friday, October 27, 2006

A very Bushy Halloween

So on Monday President Bush will be coming to Statesboro. No shit. That’s funny in and of itself, but here’s some more.
1) A week ago the entire Faculty and Staff received an email saying that because the university was tax-exempt, it could not be seen as taking a stand on any candidacy. Therefore, political signs, stickers, etc. must not be seen.
2) About two days later we get an email saying that President Bush will be speaking on campus to advance the candidacy of Max Burns.
3) It’s right across the street from my office so not only is my parking lot being closed, but I’m sure chaos will reign supreme. Which leads me to my last point, which is:
4) I was pretty sure that President Bush couldn’t fuck up my life any worse than he already has, but the fact that he is actually taking the time to close my parking lot shows he is a lot more vindictive than I previously thought.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Follow-up to Chevy Ad

Hello all - just a follow-up to our previous post about the new Chevy pickup truck ad. This one's from Slate.com and I thought it was funny/insightful:

Can Rosa Parks Sell Pickup Trucks?Chevy's icky, exploitative new ad.
By Seth Stevenson Posted Monday, Oct. 9, 2006, at 7:40 AM ET

The spot: Singer John Mellencamp leans on the fender of a Chevy pickup, strumming an acoustic guitar. He sings, among other things, "This is our country." Meanwhile, a montage of American moments flies by: Rosa Parks on a bus. Martin Luther King preaching to a crowd. Soldiers in Vietnam. Richard Nixon waving from his helicopter. And then modern moments: New Orleans buried by Katrina floodwaters. The two towers of light commemorating 9/11. As a big, shiny pickup rolls through an open field of wheat and then slows to a carefully posed stop, the off-screen announcer says, "This is our country. This is our truck. The all-new Chevy Silverado."
This ad makes me—and, judging by my e-mail, some of you—very angry. It's not OK to use images of Rosa Parks, MLK, the Vietnam War, the Katrina disaster, and 9/11 to sell pickup trucks. It's wrong. These images demand a little reverence and quiet contemplation. They are not meant to be backed with a crappy music track and then mushed together in a glib swirl of emotion tied to a product launch. Please, Chevy, have a modicum of shame next time.
I should probably leave it at that (the poor ad is just trying to sell trucks, after all, in its own muddle-headed way). But this isn't your basic flag-waving car commercial. It mixes patriotic images with some heart-rending, shameful episodes from our past. And the ambiguity is furthered by the presence of John Mellencamp—a guy who, in a different incarnation, used to make semipolitical statements about the dark side of the American dream. A guy who wrote an open letter in 2003 arguing that the Iraq war was "solidifying our image as the globe's leading bully" and wondering why President Bush hadn't been "recalled" yet. Mellencamp once sang the line, "Ain't that America" with a decidedly bitter tinge. Now he sings the remarkably similar line, "This is our country," and it's hard not to wonder what he means by it.

Especially when Chevrolet adopts the phrase in a major ad campaign. Sure, you could dismiss those words, the way they're used in the ad, as meaningless, vaguely patriotic nonsense (and as a mild rip-off of Budweiser's "This Is Beer" slogan). But they're also a bold claim: Chevy's going to tell us what America is. And what exactly is America, in Chevy's view? Well, for one, of course, it's a light-duty, full-size pickup truck. But it's more than that, too. Listen to the chief creative officer at Chevy's ad agency, quoted in the press release: "We hope that 'Our Country. Our Truck.' [the title of the spot] will inspire people to think, 'Yeah. These are the bruises and scars that have shaped our nation, and we have rebuilt ourselves spiritually, emotionally and physically.' "
Ambitious stuff. Let's break down the ad piece by piece:
Mellencamp sings, "I can stand behind ideals I think are right" while we see Rosa Parks sitting on a bus. Fine, good, terrific. I think we can all stand behind the ideal of racial equality.
Next he sings, "And I can stand behind the idea to stand and fight," while we see soldiers in a field in Vietnam, helicopters chop-chopping above their heads. Wait, what? Is this a defense of the Vietnam War? A declaration that we pulled out too soon—should have been more willing to "stand and fight"? Is it a sly statement about our present Iraq dilemma? Is Chevy making the salted peanuts argument?
Next line: "I do believe there's a dream for everyone." Here we see MLK, dancing hippy freaks at Woodstock, and 1960s peace marchers. OK, so there's room in Chevy's worldview for some anti-violence memes, too. But are we meant to celebrate America both for getting into Vietnam and for getting out of it?
Here's where it gets introspective. Mellencamp sings, "This is our country" while we watch Richard Nixon, post-resignation, waving from the helicopter that will whisk him away from the White House in disgrace. That's our country? Shamed politicians? Drab, mid-'70s melancholia? Bummer, man.
But it gets worse. Mellencamp blah-blahs some empty lines like "from the East Coast, to the West Coast," while the ad shows footage of: 1) raging California brushfires, 2) Dale Earnhardt's stock car (presumably before he crashed it into a wall and killed himself), 3) Katrina floodwaters, 4) the 9/11 memorial. Yikes!
I realize the notion being pushed here is that we'll face these hardships together and—aided, perhaps, by the hauling and towing capacity of a 2007 Chevy Silverado—overcome them. That's why the Katrina and 9/11 shots are countered with scenes of firefighters and people rebuilding houses. But I still don't understand the purpose of including all this bleak stuff in the first place. (Other than to get some attention for pushing the envelope, which—for an established, down-to-earth product like a Chevy pickup—seems a misplaced goal.)
Maybe the red-state viewer, to whom the ad is likely directed (I assume that's the main target market for pickups), interprets the overall statement as an optimistic, can-do, morning-in-America kind of thing: We've come through the bad times and we're ready to kick some ass again. But to me, this spot feels more like the advertising equivalent of Jimmy Carter's "malaise" speech. It arrives at an awkward, unsettled moment in the American psyche (underscored by the 9/11 and Katrina imagery in the montage), and it almost seems the ad hopes to capture the essence and feeling of that moment. Dredging up all these depressing incidents in our recent past, and then saying, "This is our country," sure seems like an effort to address our "crisis of confidence."
I guess I'd ask Chevy: How'd that strategy work out for Carter?
Grade: D. Automotive blog Jalopnik reports that an early version of the ad included footage of a nuclear mushroom cloud. Well, that would have brightened things up. I wonder if they could squeeze in the Rodney King beating and the Abu Ghraib photos, too.

Cardinal's choke

If I were Dennis Green, I'd go ahead and just hang myself... I bet it'd be a lot easier than trying to explain how you're team blew a 20 point lead with a little over a quarter left.

The funny thing is that I was going to write about this weekends Florida Auburn game. Where incidentally Florida got jobbed like no other piss-poor refereeing call I've ever seen. But I'm not sure what's worse. I'm not even a Cardinal fan, but all you had to do... for one quarter... is not turn the ball over for a touchdown, TWICE, and not allow a punt to be returned for a touchdown... oh yeah, and not miss a field goal from some thirty yards out. In fact, if I'm not mistaken Rex Grossman may have even thrown an interception or three in for you during said quarter. WOW... that's all I can say. I don't think I've ever seen a team try harder to lose a game than the Cardinals did tonight.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Blue Hippo

How is it that the company Blue Hippo is even still in business? I'm guessing it has nothing to do with bulk computer orders from fortune 500 companies. A more likely bet is people who don't have enough money to buy a computer outright who will shell out forty dollars a week (yes you heard me right... forty dollars a week) to buy a low-end computer with outdated software.

I am astonished that there would be anyone out there who would even consider this scam. Don't get me wrong, I have pretty solid liberaterian views and believe in the motto "a fool and his money are soon parted", but how is this predatory practice even legal?

Part of me genuinely feels sorry for people who are such a financial mess that they would have to resort to this and then a bigger part of me thinks... it's bad decisions like ordering from Blue Hippo that put you in that mess to begin with.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Departed

Trust me. You will agree with them. It could quite possibly be the best movie I've ever seen.

The wife and I are trying to cram in as many movies as we can before our little one arrives... I think this summer broke a record of some sorts (The Da Vinci Code, Talladega Nights, Miami Vice, X-Men 3, etc...). Anyway, we had a chance to catch either The Departed or Employee of the Month. We chose (or more specifically I chose) The Departed and ended up leaving the theater just astounded. It's one of those really rare movies that is just epic from top to bottom. From the story, to the dialogue, the acting to the music... everything was just incredibly well done.

The music was especially incredible. Try finding another movie that could use songs as varied as the Dropkick Murphys "I'm Shipping Up To Boston" and Van Morrison and Roger Waters "Comfortably Numb". I wouldn't normally take an interest in a movie being recognized, but I hope at Oscar time, The Departed is well heaped with little statues.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Why cats are smarter than dogs

Look at this lil' guy. Next thing you know he'll be landing other cats on the moon and finding a cure for cancer.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

I feel so... just unpatriotic

Everyone who knows Romeo knows he's as patriotic and American as apple pie and baseball. In fact just to get under his mother's skin (a liberal woman who hates Sean Hannity) instead of telling her that he loves her, he tells her she is a "Great American". But good lord this commercial is just too much. Chevrolet has really just gone off the deep end with the montage of America... good and bad (I guess). For God's sake Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr.?! Woodstock?! What does this tell me about your truck? Nothing really... just that if I don't get one, I might as well drive a North Korean car made by Al Qaeda Motors.

I'm all for a good commercial that tugs on your patriotic heartstrings, but Chevy has just gone too far with this one. I even read somewhere that a clip of the testing of an atomic bomb was removed.

Having said all that I'd just like to point out that right now I'm listening to Montgomery Gentry's "Something To Be Proud Of".

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