Of course, were I ever to need tyres, these are the tyres I’d buy

At least the first one briefly flirts with highlighting some desirable quality of Kumho tyres in comparison to their competition.

These are, so far as I’m aware, the only adverts Kumho has ever run in the United States. They’re on fairly constantly on Fox Soccer Channel, and the second one–the one that’s currently in rotation–was on the main Fox network this weekend when they broadcast the Arsenal/Man United match.

I just find it fascinating how absolutely different they are. One is in a European urban centre; the other is on an isolated, apparently North American beach. One is about sophistication and refinement; the other is about youthful exuberance. One tells a story; the other is a snapshot. One looks like it was shot on low-budget videotape; the other looks like it was shot on film, slick and professional. One demands deliberately stylised artifice from its actors; the other goes for (and achieved) that candid, sort of found-footage effect that we’d often associate with a music video.

And yet they both have exactly the same emotional arc:

sexsexsexsexsexsexsexsexBUY OUR TYRES!


What really annoys me is that it’s just insulting

It’s always been true that advertisers are perfectly happy to try to shame you or peer pressure you into buying their product. That’s fine. It’s always going to happen.

It’s also always been true that advertisers are perfectly happy to try to tie something to their product that doesn’t really make sense, if they think that will broaden the product’s appeal. That’s fine. It’s always going to happen. Though sometimes it backfires.

So it don’t know if it’s that I’ve, for some reason, become particularly sensitive to it, or if it’s just that advertisers have suddenly become much more hamfisted at it. But man is it annoying the heck out of me lately.

For instance, anyone who doesn’t like American cars hates George Washington and pisses on the graves of the men who fought in the Continental Army. Seriously, what the hell? And as a corollary, I suppose, anyone who points out that it’s only true that America “got cars right” if “getting outperformed by Germany and Japan” still counts as getting something right hates George Washington and probably believes that it was Gottlieb Daimler who invented the automobile, not Henry Ford.

Remember the last time America had to worry about outperforming Germany and Japan? Does Dodge think we’d have been “getting it right” if Germany and Japan won then, too? Hey, everyone–Dodge thinks the Nazis should have won the Second World War!

(See what I did there?)

But far more annoying (probably because they’re far more common) are the ads for Miller Lite’s new campaign, wherein any man who doesn’t acknowledge that Miller Lite is the best light beer is as masculine as a eunuch. (And all the hot girls will know that you’re a eunuch.) Okay, first of all, if we’re going to measure masculinity by what beer you drink, any light beer at all makes you a woman. It’s one step removed from an appletini–a step to the side. Seriously, drink a Boddington’s.

Or maybe we should just let people drink whatever they want to drink. Maybe it’s a preference issue just like oysters and snails. In which case, I could murder an appletini right now.


The Scholar and the Concubine
Words yesterday: 2388
Words total: 9313

Time spent writing: 12.30-2pm; 8.30-10pm
Reason for stopping: End of chapter
Darling: I looked from him to Hypatius, whose smile and shining eyes made it clear I should consider this horrible, unthinkable news a great privilege.
Tyop: “What I have done to deserve this?”
New words today: unflappably, magistrate, avuncular

On Earth Day, one of my favourite adverts ever


Words last two days: 1831
Words total: 14,430

Time spent writing: 1pm-8pm.
Reason for stopping: Time for dinner with Lee
Darling: But his eyebrows were his most distinctive feature, sweeping diagonally up and out to give his face a distinct sense of the sinister.
Words that boggled Word: trenchcoat, steepling
New words today: landowners, clandestine


Boy was watching TV the other day when an ad for ordering Pillow Pets came on. As far as I know, it’s the first time he’d ever heard of the product. “Dad,” he said, “can I have a Pillow Pet?”


“Why not?”

“Because if it’s something we have to order off the TV, it’s probably too expensive.”

“Can I have it for my birthday?” (There has been no mention that he has a birthday coming up, since in three-year-old time, his birthday really isn’t anytime soon–it’s three months yet.)

“We’ll have to see.”

I left the room. A few moments later he came running after me, very excited. “Dad! Dad!”


“If you’re looking for a Pillow Pet for me, you can find them at Pillow Pets Dot Com!”

This has now turned into a desire to purchase anything whose advert ends with a phone number on a blue background. The other morning I fielded requests both for a novelty coat hanger and for an emery board for cats. When I was asked to justify my refusal on the latter, I said, “Because we don’t have cats.”

“Hmm.” He pondered this for a few moments, then his eyes brightened. “Mum’s friend!”

By whom he meant Lisa’s colleague Josephine. Whose cat(s?) he has met once. Six months ago.

But I do feel the need to stress that he didn’t come asking me if we could get this cat emery board for Josephine’s cat. He came asking if we could get it for us. Then when he was told no, he searched for a justification to buy it anyway, even if it meant we weren’t actually going to use it at all.


A post borne of insomnia

Apparently something in my blog set off Blogger’s automatic spam detection, and my blog got locked. I had to file an appeal and wait for a human being at Blogger to actually look at the blog. I’m not quite sure what must have set off their software; my best guess is this post.

(And, as I attempted to insert that link, I discover that now that I’ve had my access to the blog restored, Internet Explorer is refusing to load any page on It loads fine, then opens a popup box telling me IE cannot load the page, then gives me the “Internet Explorer Cannot Open the Webpage” window. So as I start up my virus scan, I’ve switched over to the copy of Safari that Apple insists on dropping onto my computer every time iTunes or Quicktime updates–it’s the only other browser we have on this computer.)

I really love this commercial, but I have a genuine question: do its target demographic actually get the joke? I mean, do high school kids still watch The Breakfast Club?  For all I know, they very well might–I’m asking out of honest curiosity.

There appear to be two versions of the thirty-second version that’s actually airing on TV, but the only difference I can spot between them is that in one, the girl in the pink dress is included in the group running around the school halls, and in the other she isn’t.  This automatically makes the first version superior, since for me that actress steals the whole ad.


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Also part of the deal: Volkswagens park free at home games

DC United strips with VW logoDC United have signed a shirt sponsorship deal with Volkswagen, though all parties involved have assiduously avoided the term shirt sponsors in favour of referring to Volkswagen as United’s “presenting partners” (a piece of terminological inexactitude doubtless borne of the same part of the American psyche that demands that we can’t buy plain-flavoured snackfoods in the United States, only “original” flavour, even though several other flavours are generally introduced at the same time as “original”). Personally I like the new shirts–the VW logo works well with DC’s traditional all-black home strip, I think–though I also think it’s a shame that United have had to abandon the three horizontal Adidas stripes across the chest.

DC United players make the VW gang signThe new deal has the local media quite enthused; as we were told during every news cycle on the day the deal was announced, “United will now wear a corproate logo on their chests, just like a European team!” You could almost hear them having to correct themselves from saying, “Just like a real soccer team!”

Americans can be so cute sometimes.


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Now no longer crap!

Sparknotes: The HobbitAt work the other day we got in a couple of different Sparknotes. We got in the Sparknotes for The Hobbit and for Hamlet.

In both cases, the cover had a red starburst in its upper right corner with the words “NOW Updated!” in big, friendly letters.

Have there been recent changes in the body of Tolkien’s or Shakespeare’s works that I’m unaware of? Did Tolkien recently rise from the dead and say, “Oh, sorry, actually that should be habit. For Bilbo, living in a hole was a habit.“? What is there to say about Shakespeare’s plays that couldn’t have been said when Sparknotes first came out five or ten years ago? Or couldn’t have been said in 1719, for that matter?

Apart from trying to attract the morons who think that anything that’s new must be good, surely the major audience the “Now Updated” blurb is trying to attract would be people who already paid money for the (apparently substandard) Sparknotes first editions. But if I was part of that audience, I’d have a very tough time reading “Now Updated” as anything other than “Now no longer contains lies!”


The Second Murderer
Words yesterday: 1061
Words total: 4674

Time spent writing: Three hours (3-4pm, 10pm-midnight)
Reason for stopping: Quota
Food: Actually I was intensely ill yesterday, so the only thing I had was toast.
Words that boggled Word: trenchcoat, which is apparently two words
NaNoWriMo: So when I decided I was ready to sit down and start writing The Second Murderer now, without waiting for NaNoWriMo, I thought that meant I just wouldn’t do NaNoWriMo this year. But now, as the end of what I already know about the book comes (very, very early) into sight, I’m not so sure. Maybe I would benefit from the enforced deadline of NaNoWriMo. Maybe I’ll have to think about pulling out the Zokutou Clause.

Technorati tags: Sparknotes, new and improved, NaNoWriMo, Zokutou clause

I don’t need a hand, thanks

I would expect most of you have seen the adverts for Office Depot’s new ad campaign, where customers carry a small box around with them, out of which a disembodied hand pops (strongly reminiscent of Thing in The Addams Family) and points out the merchandise they should buy. Over this plays a rather hoky jingle that’s trying hard to be catchy but simply isn’t, informing us, “Whoa-oh Office Depot–we’re here to lend you a hand.”

Every time I watch these adverts, I get the distinct impression that the Office Depot executive who came up with the idea and insisted that the ad agency he hired use it, really thought that this was an idea that could be done with a straight face; but that everyone involved with the advert’s production–the director, the actors whose beaming smiles at the freaky hand demanding they put a filing cabinet in their shopping cart are just a little too exuberant, and the composers of that godawful jingle–was well aware of just how cheesy and ineffective the idea was, and were just trying to turn in a product that they could slip by that Office Depot executive without him noticing what a pillock they all think he is.

I do understand Office Depot’s need to come up with a campaign to counter Staples’s enormously effective Easy Button, but this ain’t it.


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Note to

No, I do not want an order of buffalo wings with my order. That’s why I didn’t click on the sides menu, then select buffalo wings.

No, I do not want to add a subscription to Entertainment Weekly or Sports Illustrated to my order. Good Lord.

No, I do not want to add a trial membership with Blockbuster Video’s new order-em-on-the-Internet-or-get-em-at-the-store service thingy to my order.

Who in the heck comes up these things?


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A dream come true

I’m pleased to report that, on the strength of two visits, Sonic would appear to be everything we had hoped. When we showed up at my sister-in-law’s condo for dinner on Wednesday night, we apologised for being late and told her we’d got lost on the way. Really, we’d been “lost” in the Sonic car park for half an hour.

That night, since we were supposed to be having dinner once we got to Julia’s, I got a raspberry-banada smoothie, and Lisa and I split a kids’ chicken strips. Today on the way out to Tampa to buy Gator championship gear, my dad and I stopped there again for lunch, where I got a Supersonic breakfast burrito and, perhaps somewhat predictably, another raspberry-banana smoothie.

Delicious, both times! This just makes me all the more resentful of that damn Sonic advertising exec.


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A Traitor's Loyalty Cover

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