Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cannibalism and Self-Destruction Ads

I'm getting weirder in my older age and considering going back to complete vegetarianism. My subject today is not a new trend--it's been around for a long time--but it just really annoys me, and I notice a couple of ads circulating right now that especially get my goat. GOAT! Get it?

Saturday Night Live has, for ages, done various parodies of restaurants that specialize in selling meals such as, say, chicken, or rabbit, or pork, and they've made fake ads in which the persuasive ad "character" is the animal that is on the menu. Those are kind of funny in a disturbing way. But the real commercials that currently bother me are about a cereal family, a child in a play portraying a sandwich, a talking chicken, and a fish.

First, the cereal family. They are a brand of shredded wheat squares. The parents are large squares; the children are little squares. The ad depicts the cereal family at home, with a traditional dad in his easy chair after work and the little kid square putting on the dad's big shoes. The gist is that the kid square thinks he "has big shoes to fill" if he's going to be like his dad. But the dad tells junior that he need not get as big as his parental unit. In fact, kid square is just the right size to be eaten by human kids! Such cheery news! Here's a dad pimping out his own son for human consumption! This is just so . . . not right.

Second is the school play with the sandwich. Child is dressed in a sesame-seed bun as a sloppy joe, the contents of which come from a can. The purpose of the ad is to convince consumers that this brand of pre-made sloppy joe contains "a full serving of vegetables." The bun-portraying kid taunts other vegetables on stage, namely the corn, for being a grain and not a vegetable. Do give me a break. To add insult, the second scene of the ad shows the kid's family at the dinner table with the kid still in costume eating sloppy joes. So, the kid is eating herself for dinner. That's so . . . not right!

Third, the chicken--not a costume chicken, but a real chicken--is apparently lobbying her famous-name, mega-poultry-company CEO for unhealthy food. He talks about how all their chickens only get the best feed. Then he upbraids the hen, "And no candy, Gladys," and she clucks sadly, "Uh-oh." She stars in an ad for people to eat her. Darnit. This is what she has to look forward to, and she doesn't even get to indulge herself in a little candy? Not fair! Find the peanut M & Ms and pig out, Gladys. Go for it before the guillotine gets you!

Finally, the fish. it's one of those artificial taxidermied singing plaques.

. In everyday life, I have a morbid fascination for those awful fake singing fish. If I had a really obscure basement that hadn't been renovated into a nice walk-out suite, I might actually have such a plaque, because I get guilty and shameful pleasure out of the kind of kitsch that just makes you say, "Huh?" Or "That is SO TACKY!" It's morbid fascination for the hopelessly unwanted and non-artistic. This is why I own a bunch of silly animal figures that started with a white-elephant party when I was a child. My first idiotic animal was a ceramic dish in the form of a turtle rolling around on its back with a lid made of its plastron and a way too-long tail that curled up over its tummy and its insanely smiling head curling up to stare at the tail--it just looked WRONG, and so it was hilarious. I don't even tell people I enjoy these kitschy things; friends just sense it in me and give me embarrassing stupid animal gifts. My kitchen is filled with them. I even have a braless mermaid and a wooden trout hanging in the window. And then there's e-Claire, the cast-iron cow, whom I found in Deerfield, Massachusetts, and Cam the Ram, her cast-iron counterpart, whom I use to hold open cookbooks. And Curtis, my furry buffalo statue, a gift from my husband who knows I had a childhood fear of bison. One of my dear friends calls my unnatural interest "whimsy," and brought me a solid glass turtle paperweight from Finland whom she appropriately named "Finn." He greets people in the entry hall.

Anyway, as usual I digress beyond recognition. Back to our ad's scaly friend, the fish. He sings, "Give me that fillet of fish! Give me back that fish!" And he's singing about the contents of his own body, which has been put into a sandwich. Eeeewwwww! He's wagging his fish tale while the guys who bought him in a sandwich are eating him on camera! That's . . . not right!


Wednesday, March 03, 2010


Not of the congressional kind, but of the offspring kind. Demands. I have probably already written up on this here blog my Raggedy Ann Theory. Everyone in this family sees me as a tool, not a person. I'm Raggedy Ann sitting stupidly on a shelf until somebody needs me and throws me around, and I'd better be available 24/7 and never argue against their preposterous wants and better drop everything else to instantly and magically fly to meet their needs.

The week before Christmas, Thing #1, the Elder, who is going to conservatory next year (maybe, if hell freezes over), phones me from his first school (goes to two, long story), and gives me a LIST of things to do. I have 15 minutes to do them all and still drive to the school! Yeah, right!:

  • Bring $20 to the door of the school so he can order a slew more transcripts.
  • Be there at no later than 12:45.
  • Put money in his online lunch account because he ate everything up yesterday and just found out there's a zero balance.
  • Bring him a hot lunch because the cafeteria won't let him have anything right now.
  • Bring seven postage stamps of the postcard denomination for the transcript office.
  • Give him a ride to the other school in the city to make it on time for afternoon class.

RIGHT NOW! No "Please" or anything. Heaven forbid.

So like the idjit I am, I jump into Whirling Dervish mode, find $20, and replenish the lunch account while leftover pasta is sizzling in the microwave. Then I speed to the post office, because, wouldn't you know it, we have no postcard stamps and I am NOT going to give him seven precious Forever stamps for some dumbbell postcards.

I zap over to the post office, which is mobbed with people sending last-minute Christmas gifts, and stand in line biting my nails up to the elbows waiting for those postcard stamps. Then I run back across town to the school, with the "hot lunch" getting colder every minute.

Kid takes the $20 and the stamps. Comes back to the car with the entire book of stamps and stuffs them in the door handle. I give him a "what the . . . ?" look. I hand him the lunch and fork and napkin, and he says, "Turns out they let me have a lunch." That's when it hits me: my car is small, and my arm is LONG and strong . . .

He is a teenage piggert, so he decides to inhale the pasta anyway. We get stuck in lunch-hour traffic on the way into the city, and he's cussing because I am going to make him late! You see where the BLAME lies? It's my fault!

When I drop him at the door of the Academy, he has forgotten his ID badge which opens the security door, and he has left the stamps sitting in the car-door handle.

I drive off.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


St. Lucy, Martyr

This post will, ultimately, be about song lyrics and a saint, however off-kilter the rambling intro might be. And, this is not the kind of "Eh?" people refer to as Canadian, speaking of the recent Vancouver Olympics, which I am heartily glad are over. I have no use for ice fornicating (Robin Williams calls it something else) or maybe I should call it ice pornicating, but I love speed skating, half-pipe, and skiing. Other than that, I can't stand it. I mean, girls, cover up your waggy little fannies with real clothing and quit dragging your ponytails on the rink [you're too old for a ponytail, by the way!] and quit simulating orgasms in public [perhaps I should have dropped the L and said "in pubic"?] , and quit crying the disgusting glitter off your eyes like a baby if you don't get a gold! Wash out the industrial-strength hairspray and have real hair! JEEZ!

Which digression randomly brings me full circle to my thesis: my "Eh?" is the Old Person kind of "Eh?" The kind old people used to say when they couldn't understand what they thought they heard, or perhaps they heard nothing because they were too stubborn to wear a hearing aid. It's the kind my great-grandfather used to say at the Sunday dinner table, peppered alternately with, "Suuuuurrre." "Suuuuurre" always meant that he sure hadn't caught what we'd said and could he have another slice of rhubarb pie please, Gramma Flo.

As I get older, I admit that as my body diminishes I grow less tolerant of general foolishness: bad driving, buckwild crazy parents allowing their children to run like bulls at Pamplona in large public places such as warehouse discount stores, "journalists" working for such esteemed publications as the WSJ who cannot distinguish between the words "gads" and "scads" when context says they clearly mean "scads" (and by the way why are such colloquialisms showing up in the WSJ? I will tell you why--they have almost certainly fired all my colleagues, the copy editors, and no longer even have dedicated beat reporters but use random remote quickie stringers who have no clue about their location, audience, OR content.)

Retreating now from the rant about my beloved newspaper industry, I also have no tolerance for women in really noisy
clicky high heels; I want to stick my leg out and trip them. In addition, I can't stand people who whistle aimlessly and improvisationally and cannot carry a tune to save their lives; this holds for people at home as well as those in public. And the people at home know who they are and are regularly admonished to STOP IT! I want to smack my hand over their lips and take them down. That is just the beginning. Clearly, there's not room on the entire Internet for my list of peeves and grievances.

Lately, what really gets my goat is not being able to understand the lyrics of the music my younger son, the champion swimmer, likes. I hope with all the maximum iPodding his ears don't wind up looking like Michael Phelps's, although he is eating almost an actual pig in a blanket and three gallons of--coffee--ice cream--every day. (See Saturday Night Live on Hulu episode with Michael Phelps--v. funny to a swim mom.) Also, regularly, he says, "Mom, listen to this awesome song!" And I listen, but I don't hear and comprehend anything. I don't understand the lyrics AT ALL. I might hear and understand, in my own way, the words of the lyrics, but I don't know what they mean in the context of the songs.

He listens to more and more pop and rap and I just don't get it. I ask him to translate. And I still wind up saying,
"Eh?" Recently, he started playing a pop, not rap song that he and I really like. Not terribly new. Very dancy. It's called "Replay." The artist is Iyaz, and the music is poppy/Caribbean. It opens with, "Shorty's like a melody in my head." Tyke was streaming the song from Rhapsody way across the open family room, and I was trying to listen, but all I could pay attention to was what I could NOT understand. So I said, "Wait, Tyke, did he just say '/Like my eyeballs stuck on a plate?'" My son nearly sprayed his ginger ale all over the monitor. "Mom, you are an R-tard!" And I was laughing, too, because just when I said it I did realize that not only was I an R-tard in his eyes, but also that I had made a completely subliminal reference to artistic representations of Saint Lucy, and my son did not get it because he knows nothing about saints or art history, and I thought that was hilarious right back at him. I was laughing more because he did not understand my allusion than because I hadn't understood the lyrics.

I guess this may be a generational thing, but so be it. So I asked him to play the song again, and he said, "Mom, it's 'like my iPod's stuck on REPLAY! Not 'my eyeballs stuck on a plate!'" In truth, these are the lyrics:

"Shorty's like a melody in my head/that I can't keep out, I be singin' like/
Na-na-na-na every day/Like my iPod's stuck on REPLAY [echo replay]"

I stood corrected, but now every time he plays the song we deliberately sing it "Like my eyeballs stuck on a plate!"

But my mishearing doesn't stop there. Another line from the song I did not understand sounded to me like, "I'm afraid of a pork chop." So, again I said, "Tyke, tell me he did not just say 'I'm afraid of a pork chop'!" And he said, "Mom, what is WRONG WITH YOU?"

"That girl--like somethin' on a poster . . ./some other line/That girl she's the gun to my holster . . ."

It may be neither here nor there, but furthermore I take umbrage at the metaphor of the girl being the "gun to the holster." Because, I think if you consider the image you will concur that the boy is probably the gun to the girl's holster, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.