Archive for November, 2011

November 28, 2011

#32) Four life lessons from one commercial

It’s not even the Super Bowl yet, and I’ve seen a commercial that I can’t get out of my head.  I speak of the recent Audi commercial featuring former Lakers coach Phil Jackson.

For those of you unfamiliar with it, here’s the basic set-up: An angry chef threatens to fire one of his employees after he makes a mistake.  Jackson, known for the “zen” philosophies he used in his coaching, strolls by calmly and says to the chef, “I’ve found that anger is the enemy of instruction.” (Lesson one – as a music teacher, I’ve already gotten a lot of mileage from this one.)  The chef says, “You don’t know the egos I have to deal with.”  (Lesson two: no matter how bad your problems may seem, someone else has it worse and is dealing with it.)  Jackson knowingly says, “You’re probably right.”  (Three: never enter a battle of wits with someone who’s unarmed).  As he makes his exit, the chef says, “Thank you…whoever you are.” (Four: you never know when Phil Jackson might enter your restaurant, so act as if it could happen at any time.)

Now, was the commercial successful in its ultimate goal of selling me a car and not just imparting life lessons?  Well, as a music teacher, it’s unlikely I’ll be buying an Audi any time in the near future, but should this or any of my other blogs take off and make me rich, I just might swing by the local dealership for a test drive.

No matter what happens, this commercial still beats the hell out of that annoying one for Lexus.

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November 19, 2011

#31) “Leave Tebow Alone!”

I’m not a Broncos fan, and I’m not a Christian.  So what am I doing writing about Tim Tebow, the Christian quarterback for the Denver Broncos?

It’s not Tebow himself that I’m interested in, per se, but the reaction he’s caused in the last few weeks.   It’s no news that we love perfection…and that we love tearing people down.  And we love comebacks.  But typically these things happen over a little bit more time.  Britney Spears had several years of pure success before she started undermining it with her bizarre behavior.  Brett Farve had a decade-plus of glory before becoming a punchline.  Even Michael Vick’s rise, fall and comeback played out over several years.  But Tebow is still a rookie.  He hasn’t had time to prove successful, much less ruin it for himself.  The Broncos are 4-1 this season when he is starting, and he’s being raked over the coals as if he is 1-4 and has already been convicted of a D.U.I.

What exactly do we want, anyways?  If someone fails, we point and laugh.  If they succeed, we wait for them to fail.  If they don’t, we have to invent their failure.  Isn’t America supposed to be the land of opportunity?  Aren’t we supposed to love success, not failure?

In a way, Tebow’s plight reminds me of that of Kobe Bryant.  For a Celtics fan such as myself to be expressing empathy for a Laker is a little bit unusual, but I’ve always respected Kobe Bryant and seen through the hypocrisy with which the media portrays him.  If he scores 50 points, he’s a ball-hog and doesn’t want to share the glory with any of his team-mates; if he scores 15 or 20, he’s tanking it.  Tebow also reminds me a little bit of Gary Carter (the former New York Mets/Montreal Expos catcher).  Carter was an outspoken Christian who was often criticized as being “too nice.”  Pete Rose supposedly said that Carter was more interested in endorsements than winning.  But between Carter and Rose, only one of them made it to the Hall of Fame.

Maybe it’s all a rite of passage.  We want to see how much Tebow can take before he cracks. Maybe he will crack.  Maybe he’ll get pulled over with a BAC of .249.  Maybe he’ll get caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy.  Maybe he’ll throw  twenty picks against New England when the two teams meet later this year.  (Actually, as a Patriots fan, I’d be okay with that.)

But give the man a chance.  Whatever happened to “innocent until proven guilty?”  LEAVE TEBOW ALONE!

November 19, 2011

#30) The tragic death of Mama Zuma’s lover

It’s kind of ironic: celebrities are paid millions to endorse products, but yesterday I bought a bag of habanero potato chips from my friends’ store, Olives Gourmet Grocer, after being inspired by a fictional character.

Mama Zuma, you see, is the face of Route 11’s habanero-flavored potato chip.  The habanero, for those who don’t know, is the hottest pepper (much hotter than a jalapeno) that you can get without having to go on the black market.  But there are a surprising number of gluttons for gastronomical punishment out there, which means that there are many entrants into the habanero potato chip market.  So Route 11 decided that Mama Zuma might make their product stand out.

But they didn’t just stop at having a sexy cartoon character emblazoned on the bag.  They gave Mama Zuma back story.  She wasn’t always mean, you see.  But when her lover died in a “bizarre and tragic potato peeler accident”, it drove her into a fit of rage and she made her life’s mission to burn as many men as possible with her kiss of fire.

Well, any mind creative enough to come up with a story like that deserves my dollar, I decided, so I picked up a bag to go with my lunch.  The chips were deceptive: at first, they tasted more like strong barbecue chips, but the real habanero flavor kicked in and I quickly required a water chaser.  I would recommend them, but those who are not used to the taste of a habanero pepper should start with one at a time.

But the real point is that what attracted me to Mama Zuma was not the fact, but the fiction.  So many commercials are fact-oriented, which gets boring pretty quickly.  (Go on all you want about how your food is made on a self-sustaining farm in Guam by indigenous peoples who are paid a fair wage; you’ve lost me after ten seconds).  No matter how much celebrities may be paid to tell me what to buy, Mama Zuma’s tragic story made her product jump out at me from among all of my other lunch choices.   In the end, I was just another one of her victims.