April 25, 2005

Does stupid sell?

Normally, we don't watch commercials. We fast forward through them. But sometimes there is one standout commercial that is so special that we watch it, rewind and watch it again and again.

This entry is about one such 30 second gem, that was so mind boggling that I took time to write this post about it. You will probably want to read the rest of this story so that you can watch the commercial for yourself.

Okay... so I watch Attack of the Show (used to be called Screensavers) on G4 (used to be TechTV). I am not particularly proud of this fact, but I enjoy it. Even Nanc has grown to like this show. --- Ha ha, your dirty secret is out now!

The show is about basic geek stuff, such as computers, videogames, and technology.

Obviously, this show attracts a certain type of commercials (you know, the ads that run at 2 in the morning on a cable channel). The one that I would like to talk about today is for a correspondence school. The commercial proposes the following view; "If you like to play videogames, I bet you'd like to make videogames." Oh yeah, right. I like to eat food. Maybe I could work at McDonalds!

So here's the deal... let's talk about the commercial, then click play at the bottom for streaming video goodness. Let's start with the script. my comments are in italics.

[Setting: an office, with two buds hanging out and playing videogames. ]
Boys with Toys
Greatest American Hero: Awwww, hurry up man... boss is comin'in.
Jock Guy: duuude...I almost got it.

{Dude, where's my acting career?... Oh, I know... it's in the Westwood Correspondence commercial.}

That mean ol' boss!
Lady Boss: Hey guys, finished testing that game yet? I've got another one I need designed.

{Upon close examination of the video, it appears as though GAH and JG are playing a Playstation game. If these guys are testing a Playstation video game, what are they going to design next? Something for NES or Atari??}

JG: We just finished level 3 and need to tighten up the graphics a little bit.

{Dude, tighter graphics. Sweet}

LB: Great. [smiles and turns away]

JG: Hey. I can't believe we got jobs doin' this.

{Maybe if we're really lucky, the bong factory will call us about the tester job}

GAH: I know. and my mom said I'd never get *anywhere* with these games.

{It sounds as though GAH has repressed anger towards dear old mom. Of course it was pretty obvious, after he created titles such as "Super Mario I hate my mom Sunshine" and "Doom 3: My Mom"}

Blah Blah Voiceover Guy: Blah Blah voiceover.

Okay, so that's it. Here's the thing that I still can't figure out. This is a commercial with a basic level of production quality. There were many different people involved in this commercial. Actors, directors, lighting, sound, makeup, probably even craft services. Didn't anybody notice how much money they just spent on a heaping, steaming pile of poo? I digress. watch the commercial below.

Okay, now watch the commercial a few more times... Once you think... "hey, they paid somebody to walk in the background behind the Lady Boss", then you're done.

Posted by Matty at 11:02 PM | Comments (12)

April 15, 2005

Upgrade/Downgrade: Darth M&Ms

Taking my cue (okay - actually stealing the idea) from Best Week Ever, I'm going to start regularly posting 'Upgrade/Downgrade' reviews every Friday. These will totally be of my own, not-so-humble opinions perhaps with a little help from my friends.

The premier issue? Dark chocolate M&Ms

M&Ms/Mars® finally came out with dark chocolate M&Ms after much of my quiet pleading for this product. Okay so I probably had little to nothing to do with it, but it can't just be a coincidence, right?

This candy's introduction into our world rides on the v. clever coattails of another great product: Star Wars®. (® specifically placed so I don't get attacked by Ewoks or lawyers.) I can't imagine the number of marketing folks that had to lose their souls to come up with this bit of genius. And I mean genius! Darth Chocolates. The Chocolate Mpire!? It's pure marketing gold, um... well, chocolate, which is sometimes better than gold.

More than just good advertising, this is a wondrous merger of brands. Oh, sure - it reeks of ET® and Reeses Pieces. (Was Lucas jealous of Stevie's candy exploits? Hmmm?) But it's better planned and really quite brilliant. (And I'm certain that it was quite a bit pricier for Mars than Hershey's deal in '82.)

Not only does this marketing agenda (Oh, yes - this IS an agenda. Don't be fooled.) give attention to the new candy-coated sweet, but it incorporates and rejuvenates the milk chocolate morsels, too. Each flavor is produced in new and exciting colors: Jedi colors are light and earthy (although I'm not certain what 'Chewbaca Tan' is?), while the Sith colors are dark and moody (the names, like Maul, Dooku, and Grievous, may make you rethink putting them in your mouth).

Some of it is a bit irksome. On their website, you're asked to choose between the Sith (dark chocolate) side and the Jedi (milk chocolate) side. Now is this mere chocolate preference or morality? If I go out and maim someone, can I claim temporary insanity from eating Sith chocolates? Will children (and some mentally challenged adults) get confused and learn poor values from liking dark chocolate? Troubling, no?

And then there's the issue of "dark" chocolate. (And no, it doesn't always gotta be a "dark" thing, but this time it is.) Apparently Mars® and most Americans consider semi-sweet to be dark chocolate, where as Europeans (and many dark chocolate lovers I know) prefer bittersweet as their dark chocolate fodder.

What am I bitching about? Nothing, really. Only that the plain dark chocolate M&Ms taste like candy-coated chocolate chips. Which is okay (yeah, I still gobbled 'em up like a greedy bastard), but it's no 'dark chocolate' in my book. The more alert of you will have noticed that I was pretty specific right there: the plain M&Ms taste "eh", but the peanut dark chocolate M&Ms? - Yum.Me!

"So blah, blah, blah. What's my verdict?" you ask? Well, instead of getting snippy with me you could've gone out and bought a bag already, Mr. or Ms. SnarkyPants! Sheesh. My thoughts on Dark/Darth Chocolate M&Ms:


the Force is strong with that one

Bonus comments:
When you start promoting the dark side, things may start going wrong. Evil begets evil; sith begets sith. See that freakish "M" in the pic? That's just not natural. Who was working quality control that day, Jar Jar?!

Posted by Nanc at 01:49 PM | Comments (9)

April 14, 2005

More Cozy Music

Yes, there is knitting content - finally! Does anyone else feel like all knitting projects are going in slow motion while the rest of your life is speeding up?

'scuse me - you've got a little somethin' on your foot

As a favor for Bonez (a kiss up, er .. favor to his boss), I knit this Rio cozy in boss' preference: UNC Tarheels. No, I don't know (or wanna know) what or why they are the tarheels. I just knit what I'm told* and go on.

* No, I don't really do what I'm told, knitting or otherwise. And Matt was v. humble when asking if I would knit this for his boss-man. It's a quick knit and I had the right colored yarn, so it wasn't a big deal. But hopefully it'll make Mr. Boss happy, and in turn make a happy Bonez. That would be good.

cozying up to our CDs

The specs for this project are as follows:

  • It's for the Rio Karma, which measures 3" x 2.7" x .9"
  • Univ. of North Carolina's colors are sky blue and white, with navy and gray accents
  • I used Katia Diana in denim blue (dark color) and baby blue for the body of the cozy (same used for these baby sweaters)
  • The duplicate-stitch foot was made with Da Vimar Merino's Dodici in gray and outlined this with navy embroidery floss
  • a relaxing soak
  • All the yarn used was left-overs from previous projects or already in my stash
  • The pattern was made up in my own head, and because I didn't plan it out well it was much harder to actually work than necessary
  • But it looks good!
  • I used Velcro for the closure
  • I blocked it on a mini book, which was still a bit too big
  • The Music for Gracious Living CD is Bonez's (couldn't you guess), and is one of the funnier CDs, both music-wise and for the cover

that'll get your attention!

That's about it. Matty takes it into to work today, so I'll get boss feedback tonight when I get home from my full and fun day: haircut, grocery shopping, and then dinner and knittin' with my gal pals. (Yay!)

Posted by Nanc at 10:20 AM | Comments (5)

April 12, 2005

(Spidey)Baby Got Back

I like big butts (and I cannot lie), but this is ridiculous

Besides the cute bunnies in our back yard, this vision accosted us last weekend.

a side view confirms my guess

Frightening, no? What's more scary is that I was able to quickly recognize that it was the derriere of spandex-clad Pete. (Sshh - his identity is a secret.)

And no. It didn't make my spidey senses tingle, or anything else for that matter. (Of course, it might have been a different story had we got a chance to romp around in this play set.)

Posted by Nanc at 09:31 AM | Comments (3)

April 10, 2005

Calamari Cupcakes

To celebrate the upcoming arrival of our dear Purling Pirate's squid, we had a shower!

Now, to some of you that sentence made absolutely no sense, so I will now try to explain:
P-lala, the pirate of Purling P's fame, is "with child." This wonderful bundle of human goodness, however, picked up the nickname of the Squid. (Sometimes, it's best NOT to know why.) Ergo, the Pirate's Squid Shower!

Now that we're all caught up. To lend a hand in the celebration, I made, well what else? CUPCAKES! But not just any cupcakes...


Read on, my curious friends. Read on.

look at all those happy, helpless squids!

I baked three different flavors of cupcake and made two types of frosting. And I have to say that they were all winners! My quest for the perfect from-scratch, basic cupcake and frosting may be ending.

For the "meat" of these treats, as it were, I baked my Budget Gold cupcakes (from here), the Dark Chocolate Cupcakes from Cooks Illustrated:April 2005, and a Cherry Chip Cake found on All Recipes. The Dark Chocolate cupcakes were really fantastic - great flavor, moist, and gobble-lisious ta' boot! I am always so impressed with recipes from Cooks Illustrated. I'm eager to try the yellow cupcake recipe from their sister publication, Cooks Country.

keeping the squids on ice

The Cherry Chip recipe was for a moist, dense cake. The cupcakes came out fine, despite the trouble I had with filling the mini cupcake pan. (The batter was thin, yet chunky with the bits of cherries and chocolate chips. It became quite the mess.) I doubt I'd make this recipe again, mostly because Matty is not a fan of the cherry or its flavor.

But really the best - for me - was the frostings. Dark, fudgy chocolate like silk and my mom's buttercream. Yum!

Mmmm... tasty treats from the deep

The chocolate frosting recipe is the Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Frosting (which has been one of my favorites for years). I was out of Hershey's cocoa, so substituted Saco premium cocoa, which is a blend of natural and Dutched cocoa. (What's dutched cocoa? Find out here!) What an awesome discovery. The Saco cocoa took the tasty Hershey's recipe to a whole different level! It was like my taste buds were on crack: the flavors were so intensified! Here's this recipe:

  1. Melt 1 stick of butter in a saucepan over low heat.
  2. Stir in 2/3 c. Saco premium cocoa and remove from heat.
  3. In a mixer, combine the butter and cocoa with 3 c. confectioner's sugar, 1/3 c. milk, and 1 tsp. vanilla.
  4. Mix until well blended.

The other frosting I used, both for icing some cupcakes and the squids, was my mother's recipe for buttercream. I'm sure I've mentioned in a previous article that my mom used to bake... a lot. For a while now, I've been avoiding her recipe despite the compliments and exclamations anytime anyone tastes it. But I couldn't refrain from it any longer - I knew it was good, and I wasn't finding anything even close in my searches. Mom was kind enough to send me a postcard from FL with the recipe (which is a great idea for recipe cards). Since the USPS got a peek at this recipe, I feel that it's only fair if I share it with you.

Buttercream Decorator's Icing

  • 1 c. Crisco (or 1/2 c. butter) [Crisco will give bright, white frosting]
  • 1 lb. confectioner's sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • (optional 1/2 tsp. almond flavor
  • 4 Tbl. milk * (more or less, depending on the consistency you desire)
  • food coloring, if desired
  1. Beat shortening until smooth.
  2. Alternately add sugar and milk, add flavoring.
  3. Beat with an electric mixer for 7 minutes.
  4. Stir in food coloring.

* When you desire a spreadable frosting to ice a cake, a little more milk may be required. Use a bit less milk when making decorations, such as flowers... or squids.

Posted by Nanc at 11:01 AM | Comments (4)

April 09, 2005

Bunny love

Okay, so I don't know if it's really love, lust, or just friends, but we have bunnies in our back yard!

We saw a bunny the first night we looked at this house for rent, and I took it as a good sign. I mean, if it's good enough for a bunny to hang around... Every once and a while we'll see a bunny out front, usually at dusk or later, and every time I feel happy.

So it was a bonus when the bunny started to visit our backyard. The cats enjoyed watching, too. Well just the other day, bunny brought a friend. (Mouse over the pic to spot the 2nd bunny.)

It was a cold, blustery day (well, as 'cold and blustery' we can get for Texas in April), and the bunnies were snuggled down out of the wind and munching on our crop of weeds (dandelions). Too cute not to snap some pictures.

Any ideas for what to do when we plant an actual garden? I don't mind bunny visiting, but I'd rather not feed the bunny armies. (What? Didn't you know about the underground militia of bunnies and squirrels?) I've thought about growing a few tasty morsels outside the planned garden just for bunnies; kind of like a tribute. But the only cutie I want to share my garden bounty with is Bonez.

Posted by Nanc at 07:47 PM | Comments (3)