Friday, January 6, 2012

Turning it into a Positive Message: Appreciating the other Message

I’m a bit late to the party. Blame the holidays. The good news is I’ve had plenty of time to think through this tirade.
So, I have some things to say about the Lexus “December to Remember” campaign. You know the ones everyone under the sun was born to hate. Don’t worry, if you don’t recall, I can help.
Okay, so I get it. The jingle is so obnoxious, I’d rather chew on foil than have to listen to that song again. I’m also very aware of the recession. I’m reminded of it every time I talk to just about anyone or turn on the TV. Check and check. But beyond that, why the extreme hate? People have dedicated many blogs to the hatred of this commercial!

A list of sites from non-fans:
6 Obnoxious Ads that Don’t Even Try to Sell Their Products
“For this category, I'm going to call out the much-reviled Lexus December to Remember commercials, where some rich asshole surprises their rich asshole significant other with a Lexus for Christmas, while most of us are trying to figure out how to keep our houses.”

So let me get this straight. Folks are upset that a luxury car company uses the holiday as an opportunity to shamelessly promote their product. Did we forget what the holidays are about (no, don’t say Jesus, you and I both know it’s not true…my bank account proves that)? Has the recession created an unspoken law that luxury car brands have to hang out in the waiting room while the rest of us weep about being jobless and/or poor? If that’s the case…off with all the iPad commercials then, right?
I myself am light-years away from ever owning a home, paying off student debt, and becoming someone of importance where I work. So, I empathize with the slice of society that doesn’t get to indulge in the luxuries available to very few but I’m not going to pout, bitch and moan about it like an envious c-rag! If I spent my time complaining about how the entire cast of How I Met Your Mother somehow affords to live in the middle of New York even though they’re architects, reporters, and school teachers…I’d be depressed a lot. And, I’d have no television to watch.

People ask who the audience is in these commercials. New flash; it’s us—the coupon saving, camp-in-our-backyard-for-a-staycation, responsible, middle-class, Quicken obsessed, credit card freezing, club.  Lexus, BMW, Audi, they may not be “selling” their products to us; they’re selling an idea, a life, or a version of a life we might strive for.  They’re selling us a good feeling. Telling us that Lexus could be for us; when the time comes that we can afford such things, Lexus will be there waiting like old loyal friend with arms wide open. Sure, the top tier wealthy folks are obviously an audience as well but I mean, I’m pretty sure they don’t need a commercial to convince them to buy a luxury car (they likely don’t need to think twice and they certainly don’t need convincing. If they want it they buy it (usually)).

But I digress. My point is not to argue for the ads, or claim how honorable they really are. It’s more to highlight how progressive they actually are. In the midst complaining about Lexus’ insensitivity for the current economic crisis, we’ve forgotten to notice something pretty cool—a certain shout-out to women around the world. A touch of feminism, if you will.

Women Can Buy Really Expensive Things and Still Be Feminine Loving and Thoughtful
When was the last time you saw a commercial where a woman gifted a car (or anything over $600) to her significant other? I’m not a wild feminist but I know when to appreciate a brand that strives to break gender stereotypes. What sets it apart than other similar commercials is that the message is executed without emasculating men, or portraying them as half-brained, Peter Griffin clones. The message shines both genders in a positive light.  
What a win! It tells a greater message than the obvious “money buys happiness.” It says that women and men are more equal than they were last year or the year before last. It says that strong, independent women can also be caregivers, lovers, soft, feminine, and thoughtful—images rarely paired with the successful, wealthy, woman.

When I first saw the ad, it put a smile on my face and reminded that society, while it’s still a mostly broken machine, is taking important forward steps. So, this got me thinking, what other progressive ads are out there? I did some research and picked out favorites! Enjoy.

Nike Girl Running Commercial: Never Stop Running
Here a woman runs because she wants to. The audience becomes part of the adventure. Her passion remains unfettered despite all environmental influences. Recognize that she’s doesn’t ignore the people in her life, they, like us, become part of her adventure. Like the aforementioned commercial, “Never Stop Running,” erases the idea that a woman has to be one thing or another (strong, determined, self-loving vs. maternal, caregiving, daughter, girlfriend etc). It’s stating a woman can be all those things and more.

Citi Thank You Card Commercial
I love this commercial!! The female in this one not only embraces her femininity (girls like to accessorize, “what girl wouldn’t need new shoes”), but also demonstrates her adventurous, spontaneous, wild side, without portraying her as unrefined, or like a tomboy. 


The following is a list of brands with ads that have taken on a more progressive approach to advertising. Whether it’s through the representation of same sex couples, homosexual undertones, or simply  through social commentary, these brands, even though I don’t normally stand behind some of ‘em, have taken a honorable and risky step forward to deliver an important message.  

McDonald’s Come as You Are commercial (France) 2010

Levi’s 2007

Pepsi Max (2009)

K-Y Brand Intense (2011)

Nissan Leaf (2011)

I realize I’ve turned an extremely complex issue into something simple and there are so many counterarguments and layers upon layers of other shit to consider but these are just my two cents. Let’s look for the positive in all the bullshit, shall we? 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Spells of Danger (i.e. my life is NOT exciting enough)

It keeps happening. These gosh darn, let’s get dangerous episodes. It’s as if I’m not clumsy enough as it is. Like my existing medical bill is feeling a little lonely sitting there on my desk…all by itself, asking me to get dangerous. I hear it whispering, “live a little.”

Garbage Disposal:
I turned on my garbage disposal and without thinking…there was my hand, in the sink, moving the leftover scraps of cucumber closer to the “black hole of danger finger death.” Before I realized it, the growls and gurgles of the disposal reminds me that I do, indeed, love my hands and would like to keep them. My face gets flushed and I take a step back, and caress my man hands. Left is telling Right, “it’s okay buddy…it’s not that bad. I’m here for you. Let’s deal with this together…you’re not as manly looking as you think.” My body tingles. It’s the adrenaline.

My Swivel Chair Doubles as a Step Ladder:
Swivel chair. I use it for step ladder purposes and it’s the most dangerous object in my apartment. Swivel chair is like Winona Ryder’s character, Susanna, in Girl Interrupted. Everyone’s (the rest of my furniture) jealous of it, it’s unstable, and can seriously cause harm to others near on or around it. When I realized how rewarding it was to grab my sweatpants from the tippy top of my closet using swivel chair, it was like crack and I was some bum in 1st and Pike St..

I might make cupcakes tonight so I’m going to need to grab that cupcake to-go tray that’s hidden on the top shelf above my fridge. I’m going to need that chair.

I ran out of clean glasses…I’m going to need those Kerr jars that are hiding above my stove for water. Swivel chair to the rescue!

The swivel chair is probably from 1991 and the wheels fall off of it all the time, especially when applying a ton of weight on linoleum surface. To this day, I’ve fallen from the chair twice. It pains me to admit that I have bruised my forearms, elbows (yes, you can bruise those bad boys), and butt from using the chair in my kitchen. But the idea of being able to balance, whilst grabbing a much needed object on the most unstable piece of (shit) furniture ever…is like…a high. Is my life this boring, really?

Fire Alarm:

I’m sitting in a bar. Writing. Yes, I’m announcing what I’m doing in real time. I’m sitting next to this fire alarm thing and thinking,

If I could just pull that lever. Just a quick tug. Like accidentally. ITWOULDBESOFUN.

But I mean it wouldn’t be that fun. It’d be like…fun in my mind, until I realized what I’d just done and then the firemen, police, and annoyed patrons having to leave their drinks and evacuate from the bar for half an hour, gave me murderous faces.
This is what I have to keep reminding myself about when the urge to grasp the lever overcomes me so badly that I have to think about ugly people to distract myself.


This isn’t a danger to me. Just my plant, Atticus. I haven’t fed  him for 2 weeks. I’m an asshole. So I fed him today and he was so excited he had an accident.

Oh Atticus....

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My First Post of Year 26

Happy Birthday to me. These are a list of things running through my head tonight on my first post of my 26th year.

If you could be a public bathroom where would you be located?

As I stand in my bathroom ready to jump into my shower, I notice I haven’t changed much. Or, maybe I have, and there are certain parts of me that haven’t. Like I’m still trying to figure out how to remove rust stains from the bobby-pins I’ve left sitting in my shower for upwards of three weeks. Four total.

Little Girls Make Good Lawyers

Recently, I became a running coach to girls aged 8-11. I, along with three other coaches, am supposed to help them realize how awesome and empowered they are, while teaching them how to pace themselves and be prepared for their big 5k in December.

It’s been a month and I already feel like I’ll never be ready to be a good parent. It doesn’t help that I’m a pushover but all I can say is that these girls can argue and negotiate with the best of them. One minute I’m telling a girl she can’t have another bag of fruit snacks and the next I’m spitting out the wrapper after having opened the bag with my teeth and helping her make piles of four, just because. I mean I used to think my heart wasn’t made for kids but now every time they pretty much say anything, I’m either laughing or on the brink of tears because I feel so moved.

I missed a practice because I was sick a couple of weeks ago and on Wednesday one of them came up to me and said, “Why weren’t you here on Monday coach Joey? We missed you!” I responded that I had some stomach issues and she grabbed my arms and draped herself on me while proclaiming in the most adorably dramatic way, “You poor thing!!” I nearly fainted.

The moral of this story is that I’m pretty sure I’m just useless as a coach and they are the ones teaching me an important lesson in life. Don’t become a mom until you’re ready to see passed the theatrics, ridiculously adorable but manipulative pleas, and the innocent doe eyes that just want you to believe they are not little devils waiting to destroy the very essence of your being.

Facebook makes me do bad things

Like waste my time. Before I changed my profile to look like the new Timeline, I scrolled through my wall from Oct. 1 2011 all the way back to April 2004, when I first got Facebook. It took me just over two hours and all I got was a comment from an ex saying something about my cuteness being X and something else being Y. Honestly I didn’t even care what the comment was…my heart was too busy being shattered that Facebook didn’t in fact, record my first status. This then prompted me to change my profile to the Timeline in hopes that maybe then it would show…nope. It just says that I joined Facebook April 28th 2004 and that the first comment ever is from someone who is not me. I will die knowing that and that makes me sad.

Trader Joes is Making Me Grotesque

Ever since I got a car I’ve dreamt of driving to Trader Joes and buying frozen food. What is wrong with me? Just because it says, “Trader Jose’s” on the label DOES NOT mean it’s healthy. It’s like I walk in with the hopes of finding raspberries and heads of lettuce on sale and my plan is completely thwarted when I remember the delicious taste of that lite macaroni and cheese. While I’m there in the frozen food section (yep…I’m disgusting), I go ahead and pick up some Gyoza (because the bag in my fridge just isn’t enough), some veggie burritos, tamales, the whole frozen section really… and by the time my basket is too full to carry, I forget the real reason I came in to shop and go to the wine section and pick up a Chuck. Someone stop the madness. Someone tell me that they steal food from starving children in the Amazon…wait no…make it worse than that. I’m not sure I could pass up mac and cheese for that. I mean, I wear Nikes for godssake.

Tamales anyone?

Have I mentioned I've done really awesome things lately??...

Hiked Lake Serene with Michael

Blue Angels

Trip to Portland

...Met this guy...he's okay too :).

Friday, August 20, 2010

Ad-ing it Up!

I’m in love with ads. My love affair is only a third grader though, still young, kind of in the honeymoon stage and definitely plans on evolving. But for now, my justification is the following.

Boring to Awesome: TV ads, and for the most part print advertising, have taken a new leap into “intelligent” humor. The kind of humor that asks the consumer to think for 3 seconds and say, “ohhh pfffttt….I get it!” and feel like not only are they “in on it” but like they’ve accomplished something . A vital step for businesses, because there is silky thin fine line between snobby were-better-than-you “intelligent” humor (read, The Onion, Adbusters, The New Yorker), and “yo…faux genius…while you absorb all those waves why not engage your mind a smidge, it’s fun, we promise!” I think you get my point here.

Because a grander part of the TV watching population TiVos and DVRs shows, meaning fast forwarding past the commercials, advertising has had to do something revolutionary, taking the “Dear strong businessman, buy this car and not only will you own your customers, but you’ll own the road” to “hey there Mr. Handsome Suit Guy between the ages of 30-52, buy this car and you’ll get home quicker than your wife, in time to catch kick off for Monday Night Football, before she steals the TV to watch Gossip Girl.” It’s added an extra layer to power and money—humor, fun, dare I say…community, family. I think the new ads answer the question, “can there be both humor and relatable satisfaction in money and power?” with a big fat, “YEP.”

Obnoxious to Viral: But advertisements also realized that they need to please people instead of annoy them. A consumer would much rather watch a 20 second ad with a rich corporate guy driving a car, rushing home getting in Green Bay Packers garb to watch MNF, than watch a 20 second ad of some random douche bag, driving in an open highway with NO ONE else around wearing sunglasses in the dark saying something douchey like, “my car is awesome…what do you drive, sweetie?” It needs to be relatable, but slightly out of reach so people feel like they have something to work for, while not getting depressed that middle class is the only class and the economy sucks and…well anything related to real life. Magical but not unattainable.

Ads now need to make something good enough for the few people without TiVo or DVR to see an ad and say, “I’m going to post this on YouTube/facebook/twitter, because it’s badass and awesome, and I want my friends to know I have a sense of humor and I’m up to date with the cool shit.” Not only does it obviously increase sales (duh), but this saves money as it’s basically free advertising. Consumers are suckers, but at least this makes them pretty frigg’n cool suckers. I’ve never worked for an ad agency, but I imagine part of their mission would be, “make it awesome enough to become a viral video in a week, die out in three weeks and then come back to life six months from now in some random conversation and relive the cycle again (see, Old Spice commercial).”

Anatomy of Commercials in our Modern Era: Pithy, spunky, and maybe even emotional. Everyone with a mother knows that Hallmark commercials have owned the emotional side of advertisements since the dawn of commercials. But that’s outdated…people don’t want their emotions to be whored out to every hallmark or feed the children ad on television. I imagine the conversation between the Human and the Emotion is… “Whoa there cowboy…simmer down. It’s just Hallmark Mother’s Day commercial, don’t be so easy, you whore…get a hold of yourself and change your panties.” People want to work for their emotion; they want it to creep up on them like a mosquito at night. For example, I was watching the new iPhone 4 commercial that is meant to showcase the video calling feature. Actually, wait, let me preface this with, I don’t really cry…unless you’re breaking my heart, but those are usually not tears of sadness as much as they are anger. Anyway, so okay…so the scene is the girl not wanting to open her mouth and person on the other line is her father and he keeps trying to make her smile and then she finally smiles revealing a mouth full of metal…here’s the video:
When I first watched this video I was sitting on my couch eating Pop Chips and drinking wine—experiencing a moment of solitude after a long week of being overly social… and I bawled. It wasn’t like a loud cry, or angry or anything, it was like the floodgates of uncontrollable tears reserved from months and months of refusing to cry, were opened and there little to no end in sight.
I compare it to the moment in Ratatouille when Anton Ego takes a bite from Linguini’s “ratatouille” dish, and he’s taken far back to a comforting humble place—home, as a child. Yes, it was like that.

Brilliant though right? The ad is brilliant! It unexpectedly strikes all the right chords, because when you think iPhone, you don’t think “family. sweet. adorable.” You think, “Badass, now I can be like every other rich schmuck on the bus playing Angry Birds or Scrabble on my iPhone.” But yes, people want to be reminded that things that seem cold, technological, and a sign of wealth, are not those things necessarily, or at least not only those things, but so much more, they can remind you of home, or a moment in time when your dad was supportive of that mushroom haircut in the 6th grade and still said you were the most beautiful girl in the world. And not only can they remind you of home, but they can literally take you to that place…like magic. Well done Apple. Well done.

So…be it intelligently humorous, intelligently emotional, fully tactful and incredibly viral and fun and innovative. Ads have drawn me in…and right, I don’t have TiVo or DVR…so I’m one of those people who sit through commercials and ponder for days.

And while my love affair might end soon as I evolve and as they possible devolve…I will always remember the days of:
Sheer Laughter

Tactful hotness

And, just plain intelligence without the quantum physics crap

...Also, i realize i haven't really said anything revolutionary here...but i'm not trying to revolutionize thought, just trying to get mine out there.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Maryanne: sweet somethings.

There’s nothing scarier than blank space, Maryanne thought. The freedom is offered was unbearable almost suffocating. Everything can go wrong with blank space. Everything can go perfectly with blank space. It was the not knowing what could happen, and the all encompassing finiteness of possibilities.

She just wasn’t used to it. Her life was the opposite of blank space. In fact it was a lot like one of those crazy paintings, what is that artist’s name again? Pollock, she said out loud, smiling at herself with oozing pride.
It was the third of the month which, to most, merely means it’s two days after the first of the month. Probably the day that the rent check goes through and a third of your paycheck goes to shit. To Maryanne it meant that it was her official scotch tasting day. Scotch was banned in her town because of some stupid event years ago involving Molotov cocktails, prostitutes, and a church. It was all so unclear, and this upset Maryanne because she didn’t like limitations caused by other people’s stupidities. In fact, before the ban Maryanne had never even tried scotch. Macallan was merely a charming Scottish last name. But once she got word of the stupid ban she went straight to a town just two miles north and tried her very first scotch. “I’ll haaaavvvve the second best Scotch you have.” The bartender quizzically looked at her, “on a tight budget I see.” “Nope! I just don’t want to be disappointed when I try the best and don’t like it.” “Umm…okay! Would you like it in a shot glass?” “Shot. Definitely a shot glass. Please. Did I say that at first? I meant to. Anyway, how about that scotch?” The shot glass appeared suddenly and she stood in a showdown with scotch. I’ll either love you or hate you, $20 shot. And with that thought the liquor was sliding down her throat burning it and making the stubbly hair on her shaven arm stand on end. She loved it. She loved the burn, the chills, and the way it made her eyeballs want to secrete fluids.

After looking at the blank space for a while Maryanne decided it would be less scary if she had her scotch tasting first. She went to her cupboard and opened up a whole new bottle of Laphroaig 10 Year Islay Malt, poured a three finger drink into her crystal tumbler; as she brought the glass to her mouth she sneezed right into it. Deeming the drink useless she poured its contents in into Ben, her new fern. “Drink up, Ben…this is your lucky day.” On her second try Maryanne sipped ever so slowly as she realized this scotch whiskey might change her life. The oaky taste made her feel like she was taking a bite out of the forest. She smiled as she poured just a smidge more. She walked to her living room, sat down on a herd of dust bunnies and stared at the blank space--a concrete urban looking wall rife with nothingness. Pollock she said to herself. Perfect.

Rusty lay next to her riding out the buzz he acquired from Ben's alcoholic soil.

She smiled as she envisioned chaos staring right back at her.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Maryanne revisited: Just Enough for a Blink.

Maryanne's toes pointed straight up to the ceiling above her, back slightly arched and if there was a connect-the-dot line between her slopey nose and the skylight above her it would be absolutely bend whatsoever. Her eyes, a certain green that made everyone think of frogs when they looked at them, were bloodshot and tearing as she timed the seconds she could count the stars (without blinking) out of her skylight. At about two and a half minutes, record time for this star counting veteran, her obscenely large phone buzzed like a defective vibrator—on-off-on-off. She ignored the first set of rings expecting a voicemail, but it only encouraged them to call again. Maryanne blinked. Too teared up to see who was calling, she blindly answered. It was no one. Or rather it was someone, but she pretended it was no one. She answered speaking some twisted form of Mandarin.
“Maryanne, is that you?” But she’d only respond in jibberish with the occasional "hello" in Mandarin...
“Hello? Is this…Maryanne I think you’re cutting out. If this is you, I need to tell you that I’m back in town and I’d like to see you, Rusty too if you want. I’ll even…well, I’ll even hang out at your apartment. Just this time…well, nevermind, just call me back.” A tear rolled down her cheek from burning blind eyes, and she hung up the phone. She lay back down and Rusty came around the corner having just awoken from his slumber he was ready for some attention. He licked her face as she lay there gazing…restarting her star counting.
He licked her forehead, but this would not distract her enough to blink. Bored to pieces he spitefully licked her nose.
Stale Cheerios.
She smiled. Counted star number 50 and blinked.
“Perhaps tomorrow it’ll be clearer.”

(Credit to Devin Lai for this gem!)


I told myself I’d never be one of them. Those gosh darned prodigal bloggers! But promises are for the committed and clearly that’s something I’m not good at. The rules are simple…don’t get attached, expect little, be excited when you get better than “little.” Follow those rules, and I guarantee I’ll make you happy. That there is probably why I’m single as stag sock.

Wherever have you been dearest Green Fuzz contributor!?
-Well, between writing wretched fiction, breaking an ankle, getting really fat off of Trisquits (thank you, Nabisco) and the usual, warding off all attractive men in Seattle (and just about everywhere else I go) with my lack of charm, sophistication and apparently stlye , I’ve been working! Yep, that’s right, amidst all the ridiculousness in my life I somehow was able to not only acquire a job, but LOVE it.

Well…have you been writing?
-Funny you should ask. Yes, I have been writing. In fact, not only have I been writing but I get paid to do it as well! That’s right, I thank everything that is holy that I somehow landed a writing job as a content writer at a board game company. The distraction from my personal writing isn’t necessarily a bad one, but I do miss just writing about nothing.

What do you write at work? Did you write Monopoly?
-What? Really? Monopoly? You mean the game that was created back in 1934, which is by the way, before my grandmother was born? No I didn’t write Monopoly, in fact nothing I’ve written has been produced yet…most of the stuff will be in stores in early Fall. I write card content; ad copy for packaging, catalogs, sales packets; I write rules, and do a shit ton of research. As we all know…these days nothing is for sure, few things last…who knows how long I’ll have this job, but it’s writing, it’s my career and I’ll relish it for what it is as long as I can.

So…you’ve left the blogging world?...
-Actually, no! I haven’t…more of a hiatus because I got intimidated by all the awesome blogs I follow. I kept thinking my stuff was crap compared to everyone else’s and that I wasn’t going to post unless I felt like it was worth posting. I’m doing this new thing that involves having a little more a filter. In fact I’ve been practicing in notebooks..outlining. I’m also going to be writing a new blog for work. You will all have to follow that…it’s snarky meets stupid meet professional meets…ahh fuck it’s none of that…how bout I just kindly ask you to check it out and you can see whether or not I suck at life?

Anyway, now that I got the crap out of the way…how about you start posting some stuff with substance?
-I will. I’m working on it. I promise. Maryanne is coming back. There’s also a boy named Harold who I’m going to make you hate and love. There’s also me…there’s always me.

Also...check out this new triumph of mine. They're still blacklisted, least i finally owned that sucker! Grapefruit: 1 Joey: 2. word.