Archive for March 2021

Progressive Motaur’s “New Shoes” Commercial…

March 30, 2021

In his previous outing, we saw Progressive’s “Motaur” suffer a blowout, and I’m sure that we all wonder how such a biomechanical being responds to such an incident; why, he goes to a tire shop, of course!  Where the rubber meets the road also incorporates elements of the old full-service shoe store, with Motaur trying on a new set of tires, and the older store employee, completely nonplussed by his appearance, offering helpful comments from his perspective to close the sale.  Those full-service shoe stores are hard to find these days; if you were a kid, they would actually measure your feet!  Earlier still, some shoe stores would have an X-ray machine on site so you could see how the shoes fit on your underlying anatomy.  It was kind of, “Hey kid, want a dose of radiation with those penny loafers?”  But I digress… 

When Motaur voices concerns that his new kicks might be too tight, the employee opines that he just might want to break them in a bit, because he sure doesn’t want tires to be too loose!  A disturbing thought here; can Motaur actually feel his inorganic parts, and if so, how?  Anyways, the employee is a helpful and good salesman, and we wind up with Motaur back on the road again, another satisfied customer.  Sure is good that he had Progressive’s 24/7 roadside assistance plan!  Long may he ride to his Culture Club tunes!  Are we in for a Boy George revival?

In future installments, perhaps we’ll learn if Motaur sees a doctor or a mechanic if he gets sick.  Does he change his own oil?  Inquiring minds want to know…

 

Progressive’s “Motaur: Interruptions” Commercial…

March 28, 2021

  

Biomechanical organisms can be both freaky and funny at the same time, and Terrence Terrell as Progressive’s Insurance “Motaur” is at it again, this time showing off his light side as he motors down a deserted country road, singing and bopping to Culture Club’s 1980’s hit, Karma Chameleon.  It was a catchy tune, and our Motaur seems to be enjoying himself thoroughly, even getting an arm dance thing going on.  One doubts that a Skynet creation would do this…

…but as fate would have it, Motaur’s free-spirited fun is over when his rear tire unexpectedly goes flat.  Fortunately, our boy has Progressive’s 24/7 roadside assistance plan, and will soon be on the road again.  This commercial is actually part one of a two part series, the second part called New Shoes, and set in a tire shop.

I just never expected the Motaur to be a Boy George fan, did you? And despite my fascination with cyborgs, I’m keeping all of my organic parts, thank you…

   

Liberty Mutual’s “Unique Business” Commercial…

March 20, 2021

 
Well, this certainly is a unique business, alrighty…one which in the Liberty Mutual commercial sells wet teddy bears.  It’s modeled on the cart hotdog vendor stands which you undoubtedly have seen almost everywhere, only this one isn’t selling hotdogs but rather, yep, wet teddy bears! 

Can you even imagine a demand for such?  The concept is both bizarre and somewhat horrifying.  What exactly does one do with a wet teddy bear?  The hotdog vendor stand setting suggests that in some fashion the teddy might be consumed, and that’s too horrible to entertain the notion.  People usually want to hug or seek comfort and security from a teddy bear, objectives which are diminished by the object being sopping wet.  Yet wet they certainly are, as the vendor demonstrates by pulling one from a bin on the cart, holding it aloft with tongs to demonstrate its wetness, and then plopping it with a flourish on a plate for a waiting customer, who thought he was buying a hotdog.  Well, it certainly wasn’t that guy’s day!  Get away from this vendor, guy, no, run away, and fast!  Something’s terribly wrong here…

The apparent theme of the commercial is that not everyone wants the same thing, and Liberty Mutual allows you to customize to get and pay for just what you want.  It’s hard to imagine any demand, however, for a wet teddy bear, which seems a perversion of their nature.  To each their own, however, while this concept certainly isn’t one for me.  This wet teddy bear stand seems headed for financial ruin, even if it is what its owner wants.  Perhaps a mobile psychotherapist might be more in order…

 

“The Proof Is Out There” On The History Channel…

March 19, 2021

If you’re like me, you have an approach/avoidance conflict regarding shows on the paranormal and the unexplained.  On the one hand, you love them and feel drawn to them, but on the other, such shows can vary greatly in quality, and leave you feeling unsatisfied.  There goes another hour of my life that I’ll never have back, you may feel afterwards.  Some such shows are so poorly produced and documented as to represent intellectual dishonesty, and be basically hack entertainment.  We are, however, living in a time when fringe conspiracy theories are surprisingly in vogue, so perhaps art is imitating life once again.

“I Want To Believe,” declared a poster on the walls of Fox Mulder of The X-Files series, and this sentiment captured the yearning that many of us feel, but as intelligent skeptics we want to be convinced by proof, hopefully that which can stand up to scientific scrutiny.  Each classic X-Files episode included the legend, The Truth Is Out There.  Playing on this, a new series on The History Channel is titled, The Proof Is Out There.  Hosted by Emmy Award winning Tony Harris, the series is captivating and fast-paced, and it covers several unrelated features, all in the time of half an hour.  The oddball phenomena covered tend to be labeled as credible, not credible, or unexplained.

An episode sampled (S1, Ep5) included segments on the Skunk Ape, whispering sounds heard in a tomb investigation in Egypt, unexplained apparent structures and lines on the lunar surface, and a light phenomena in Texas.  The Skunk Ape segment examined a paw print found on a car window as well as a video supposedly of the creature.  Neither was found to be credible, but the series added that such doesn’t rule out the existence of the creature, but only that the evidence examined did not factually represent its existence.   The “tomb whispers” from Egypt were examined by both a soundscape ecologist and an Egyptologist, but were ruled to be unexplained.  Supposed dome-shaped structures on the moon were found to be consistent with the formation of impact craters, whereas lunar tracks were thought to be from an earlier Soviet rover.  Lastly, blue light found crossing a woman’s kitchen was regarded as unexplained.

With episodes running half an hour, there’s not a lot of inflation, wasted time, or “puffing” of content on the show, which can be so notable on similar features.  There’s economy here rather than padding. There is no unity or theme between the individual segments of it, which can be seen as a strength or weakness.  Overall, the series shows good production values, is intelligently done, thought-provoking if not earthshaking, and generally worthy of your time.  I rather think that Fox Mulder would have approved of this series… 

Nature’s Own “Goldilocks” Commercial…

March 16, 2021

 

When you come right down to it, Goldilocks was at best an unwanted guest or moocher, and at worst a parasite or even home invader.  I mean, going uninvited into the house of inoffensive bears, and eating their food, even sleeping in their beds?!  Humans carry diseases and stuff…who could blame the three bears if they were to invoke the Castle Doctrine, and clean Goldie’s clock but good?

In a spin on the Goldilocks and the Three Bears tale, our Nature’s Own commercial shows us a pristine forest through which strolls to fairy-tale themed music an angelic-looking, golden-haired girl. She approaches and then enters a charming cabin in which there’s a rustic table holding three sandwiches.  Goldie samples them in turn, pronouncing each one “just right!”  But wait…Momma Bear enters the house, sees Goldilocks, and is not pleased!  We are then shown Papa and Baby Bear, who are fixing sandwiches for Goldie, and are shocked at being discovered by Momma.  

“You know, if you keep feeding her, she’s NEVER going to leave!,” intones Momma with displeasure.  You see, Papa and Baby Bear have apparently been keeping and feeding Goldilocks as kind of a pet, like a stray cat, perhaps. Soon they’ll be saddled with her care and feeding permanently, until she turns 18 or perhaps 21. Goldilocks appears satisfied with this arrangement, and there’s none of the “too hot/too cold” fussiness by this Goldie over her food; just keep the grub on good bread coming, bears…

So enjoy some Nature’s Own bread, but don’t feed it to stray humans.  Once you feed them, they’re yours, and you’ll never get rid of ’em!  Let us learn from the Bear’s mistake, or we’ll suffer a long-term liability and burden.  It’s hard enough feeding our own, right, and if you kick the young humans out, they’ll learn to fend for themselves. Feeding a human is fostering dependency, and that’s really not kindness to them…or so, conservatives would have us think…  🐺

“The Masked Singer” Season 5 Premier…

March 15, 2021

The Masked Singer has to date been a series friendly to furries, and the new season’s premier did not disappoint in this respect, featuring a raccoon, a cybernetic porcupine, and a couple of mollusks.  Snail (above) was like something one might experience during a bad trip with a recreational drug, featuring a shell adorned with a top hat, eye stalks, and a mouth with teeth.  Something to creep out almost everyone, together with a degree of strange cuteness!  Things got weirder when the Snail was voted off at the end of the episode, revealing the hidden celebrity within to be…Kermit the frog!  I guess that this counts as a double disguise of sorts as a puppeteer was operating Kermit who in turn was supposed to be operating the snail…quite surreal, and exceedingly strange.

More to my liking was Raccoon, who had western stylings and performed a version of Wild Thing by The Troggs.  This was a crowd-pleaser, and Raccoon when leaving the stage foraged through garbage cans that were part of the performance stage setting. It was completely in character, and I give Raccoon added points for that.

Robopine was kind of a cybernetic porcupine with implants on the right side of his body. In addition, he had prominent quills which together with the artificial parts made Robopine a rather formidable figure. He’d fit well into either the Steampunk Universe or the Borg Collective.

In addition to the performers mentioned, there was as a Russian Doll of the nested type most of us are familiar with, and Seashell, festooned with shells and probably a mollusk herself. The costumes alone are worth checking out this series for…

Does Pepe Le Pew Stink?

March 10, 2021

(Warning:  some adult themes in the following post, albeit about a cartoon character…)

Striped skunk Pepe Le Pew has been kicking around as a Warner Bros. character since 1945, but to some this skunk is a male chauvinist pig and sexual predator.  With some saying that the amorous skunk normalizes rape culture, Pepe has been dropped from the sequel to Space Jam, and won’t be appearing in further Warner Bros. productions for the foreseeable future – – Sacre bleu!

Now this skunk was a one-trick pony, so to speak,  portrayed as a french character complete with accent who fancies himself highly desirable, whereas his skunk scent and unwanted advances made him in reality abhorrent to the object of his affections, usually one Penelope Pussycat, who was originally nameless.  In his classic routines, Pepe would be easily deceived into thinking that the black and white feline was another skunk once she wound up with a streak of white paint down her back.  Penelope would vigorously resist the skunk’s unwanted advances and attempt to flee from him, but Pepe could easily keep pace with her with a kind of bouncing hop classic to himself; he was truly “high on a feeling.” There were variations to this formula, but Pepe seldom abandoned his arguably predatory pursuit.

 

Herein lies the rub, and Pepe’s conflict with contemporary societal norms.  To the skunk, no never meant no, but resistance was all part of the game, and represented normal behavior.  It was alright for Pepe in his own mindset to persist in his unwanted aggressive physical advances, because the female was simply playing “hard to get,”  and her resistance was adorable, appealingly cute, and even amusing.  Hence, the accusations that Pepe was normalizing rape culture.  He simply grabbed poor Penelope, and tried to foist himself on her.  Fortunately, we never saw any skunk/kitty domination porn out of it, although in some dark corners of the internet you could probably find it.  Trust me on this; I’m a furry…

There was a bit more to the character as well, playing upon the stereotype that all Frenchmen were great lovers, whether they actually were or not.  Pepe certainly thought that he was, and his narcissism lent a bit of comic irony, which was part of the running shtick of the character.  He was also a skunk, and they don’t smell like roses!  Whether blinded by love or lust, Pepe in most of his cartoon outings failed to recognize that Penelope was of a different species entirely, so you had that comic misidentification  going on, a “love is blind” kinda thing.  Pepe was at core sexually frustrated in spite of his personal perspective that he was at least potentially some kind of love god, a hot item “on the make.”  He never prevailed, but he was certainly persistent, to a flaw. This is no longer considered a virtue as it once perhaps was, but now is rather a red flag of inappropriate behavior.  Pepe might today face charges for his conduct were Penelope of a litigious mind; watch out for a kitten who isn’t smitten!  Perhaps Foghorn Leghorn could defend Pepe in court…“The boy, I say, the boy was just doin’ what comes naturally, and after all, he’s French…”  

This unwanted persistence of male suitors played well generations ago at the general time of his origin, and Pepe Le Pew was certainly not the only character guilty of it.  For example, Dean Martin’s seasonal song, “Baby It’s Cold Outside” has also been largely dropped from favored Xmas song playlists for just the same reason as kind of an anthem of date rape. There’s a fine line between seductively sexy and creepy these days, and what was once constituted as “boys being boys” doesn’t fly well any more; just ask any number of disgraced pervy politicians, although charges stick much better to some than others, ahem! 

I’m kind of glad that Warner Bros. is dropping Pepe Le Pew rather than trying to reform him; it just wouldn’t be the same, and our skunk is after all incorrigible, a self-deceived romantic rogue whose essence would be destroyed by being sanitized.  While Pepe was a product of his time and that time is now past, I’m going to miss the lovestruck rascal even if he is politically incorrect by today’s standards…this skunk was such a dog, if you’ll pardon the mixed metaphor, a slick if clueless anachronism and stereotype, the “locksmith of love” in love with love and himself.  The path of true love, so they say, seldom runs smooth, although hope springs eternal even while the “game of love” may for some have a baffling rule book.  As Pepe might say, “You know, it is possible to be too attractive.”  He may have been delusional, but he didn’t suffer from self-concept problems…

 


Nature’s Own Commercial, “Goodness:  Three Little Pigs”

March 6, 2021


It’s a charming commercial, with a bit of old world flavor.  The Three Little Pigs of fairy tale fame are busy in their kitchen, making breakfast…and Lordy, they’re making French toast with Nature’s Own bread!  I love French toast, and this looks more than good enough to eat, so gimme, gimme, gimme!  Pleasant low-key European-style dining music is playing in the background.  I’d be on board for this…

But wait…the Big Bad Wolf is also in the background, with a mighty exhalation of his classic breath!  Is he about to “blow the piggies” house down, and feast on the diners therein?!  Nah, not to worry…the wolf is blowing out celebratory candles on a giant stack of french toast thoughtfully prepared by the three piggies for some special occasion.  They all applaud the wolf’s efforts, and then everyone is sitting down around the rustic table to eat hearty.  All appears harmonious and well, but…

Hey, got any bacon?, asks the wolf.  This is followed by silence and blank stares by the pigs, and you can almost hear the crickets.  “Just kidding!,” the wolf then reassures his company.  He was only having fun with the piggies, you see, even if the joke was in questionable taste.  All is well here with the predator/prey breakfast repast, despite wolves having a bad rep.  Don’t kill the cook, I always say…

Nature’s OwnGoodness is in their nature.  It’s “goodness that brings everyone together.”  And even a wolf can be capable of peaceful coexistence, apparently.  It’s the wolves who pretend not to be one that you have to watch out for…

 

“Godzilla vs. Kong” Arriving…

March 4, 2021


In these times of a deadly global pandemic and an insurrectionist attack on the U.S. Capitol, you probably figured that a Godzilla vs. Kong movie was inevitable.  We may even be jaded to it, kind of like “Yeah, it figures, whatever!”  But after years in the planning and multiple delays in 2020, Godzilla vs. Kong is at last set to open in late March.  

Described as a “massive monster brawl,” this latest installment in the MonsterVerse unites in mortal combat the iconic franchise figures of King Kong, who has appeared in a dozen films, and Godzilla, the veteran of three dozen flicks.  Both franchises began cinematic renewal and revitalization programs beginning in 2014, with Godzilla establishing himself as “King of the Titans,” and mankind in this universe being in fearful coexistence with them.  King Kong, for his part, has done well in his domain on Skull Island, and has demonstrated his ability to dominate in battle large reptilian creatures, including three T-Rexes at once.  This makes him a serious contender in any monster match, even if he is essentially a giant ape…

 

Now in the current crossover matchup, Godzilla has become seriously ticked off, and is rampaging around the planet, prompting mankind to recruit King Kong as a defensive agent.  Kong has the advantage of superior intelligence and agility, whereas Godzilla is elemental and practically indestructible, plus he has that radioactive breath thing going on.  You have to choose sides in this combat, and I confess to being a Godzilla loyalist.  He is just magnificent emerging from the sea, an unfathomable, breathtaking, and unstoppable force of nature!  Kong may be King, but Godzilla is…well, a god.  The Internet is having a field day over the upcoming battle royal, and we are at least promised by the producer that one of the combatants will win.  There’s nothing we monster movie fans hate more than ambiguous endings, which are all too common and very unsatisfying.  If I wanted a “write your own ending” conclusion, I wouldn’t be bankrolling someone else to write the script.

Regardless of who emerges victorious in the epic fray, we are promised more MonsterVerse films to come…and there is the revelation that some thing manifested as seismic activity within the hollow Earth may be instigating the fracas to begin with, like a cosmic conspiracy theorist. Perhaps there is a common, real enemy. All is probably not as it appears, with plenty of hooks to hang future movies on.  Producers do, after all, want your interest piqued, and your movie dollars supporting their efforts…Rawrr!  

 

 

Dr. Seuss Books in Racist Row…

March 3, 2021


Six Dr. Seuss books will no longer be published owing to racist images and references within them, specifically in regards to black and Asian people.  Not to excuse or condone such things, but they were common stereotypes of the time, and I did grow up with them while never becoming a white supremacist.  I far preferred the surreal iconoclasm of Dr. Seuss to the exclusive vanilla wholesomeness of the Dick and Jane readers, plus he drew awesome anthropomorphic animals!

Objectionable racist portrayals in kiddie lit and entertainment of the time were not by any means restricted to Dr. Seuss.  Consider Elmer Fudd as a ludicrous Native American in Hiawatha’s Rabbit Hunt.  Remember Disney’s Song of the South.  Visit the 1961 Dick Tracy cartoon series for stereotyped crime fighters Joe Jitsu and Go Go Gomez.  These are but a few examples, to be sure.

The discontinued Dr. Seuss titles are but a few books among many that do not have objectionable content, and generally are among his lesser-known works.  Dr. Seuss got a lot of kids reading, and eagerly so.  His art had furry roots, and could be quite thematic while wildly entertaining.   It largely holds up well today.  While Theodor Geisel was a product of his times as are we all, he was a pretty cool dude whose legacy remains a good one.

And all I know is that I’m keeping and cherishing my Fox in Socks book forever, even if the fox does appear to have some kind of strange unknown disease or genetic affliction…