Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Mac Ads

So I realized this week the ads for Macs shown in the US are different to the ones shown in the UK. Same idea “I’m a Mac,” “and I’m a PC” but using different actors.

I offer you both versions of an ad called "stuffed."

As far as I can tell, only four commercials are copies, the rest are unique to each market. In the UK, many Mac ads lean toward letting us know that Macs do in fact run Microsoft Office, while the US ads have been attacking Windows new Vista operating system. (As a Vista user I have to agree with Apples take, too late to change though).

You Brit types can have all sorts of fun looking at the US ones here:

While you Stateside fellows can see the Brit ones here:

Though I can’t help but post my favorite UK ad, The Naughty Step (incidentaly, the Brit Macad actors star in a sitcom together--great idea to use them).

And my favorite US ad, Counsellor

I didn't post any of the Japanese ones, no idea what they're going on about.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Bout About a Boat

Barely five minutes out, I knew it was not going to be pretty. A twenty-eight foot boat sailed from Marina Del Ray in California with just six of us on board. The sky was clear, the temperature warm. Motoring out of the harbor we passed moored boats with names like Serendipity, Lazy Days and Knotty Problem. Their names often began with Miss or Lady, instilling a sense of maternal caring. Our boat was christened The Dark and Stormy, which I should have seen as obvious foreshadowing.

In the relative calm of the harbor, the boat lilting gently from side to side, I found a surprising amount of my conscious mind being devoted to feeing okay rather than making small talk.

Beyond the break-water wall we cut the motor and were surrounded by silence and bigger waves. I looked at the rising and falling of the ocean. We were going to have a swell time.

Our two crew skipped nimbly around the deck, hoisting canvas sails, using terminology we didn’t understand, and offering us dried fruit-and-nut ‘sail-mix.’

Shortly, someone noted “You’re being very quiet.” I did not even have the energy to reply. It was all I could do to nod feebly in agreement. The night before I’d performed the rite of gluttony at Mariella’s fine Italian cuisine, and was now being harrowed by giant zombified raviolis marching through my intestines.

“It helps to keep you eye on the horizon,” said a well meaning voice. As is so often the case, what ‘helps’ was the exact opposite of what I could do. Looking up from my increasingly hunched position took supreme amounts of effort. On the horizon loomed an inevitable and sudden weight loss.

“You’ve had Dramamine?” I managed a single nod.
“We have a relief band.” I hoped the relief band would be U2 playing a charity gig for nauseous Englishmen, but it was actually a watch-like device for preventing motion sickness. It is in fact the ‘only electronic, patented, FDA-cleared, commercially available Nausea-Vomiting device to prevent sea sickness.” The wordy sales pitch was matched only by the lengthy tiny-print instruction manual. Not something you can actually read in the same moment you need to use it. The device on, it began sending electric pulses into my wrist at level three. In normal conditions I would say it sounded slightly less therapeutic than astrology, but there are moments when woozy overrides reason, and you try anything.

“It helps to sit at the stern and look forward.” This may or may not have been true. You can only get so far from someone on a twenty-eight foot yacht and everyone was already as far forward as they could get.

I couldn’t move. Any movement on my part would cause my digestive tract to do what I wanted The Dark and Stormy to do and reverse course. The next twenty minutes were spent settling into a rhythm of feeling either terrible or worse. I chose one of the terrible moments to go downstairs. The rocking of any waterborne vessel is far more pronounced inside the boat. After successfully making use of the appropriate facilities I went back on deck and sat at the back of the boat facing forward, hoping I had eased tensions enough that I could make it back to safe harbor.

“Did you have breakfast?” said a voice. I could nod again, a good sign.
“Ah. I’ve heard that breakfast is a good thing to have,” the voice said. But the look on the face that owned the voice clearly showed it now considered me a potentially indiscriminate projectile weapon of a type usually regulated by UN inspectors.

“What course should I set captain?”
“Au’derves and cocktails!”

Several hundred meters to my right Santa Monica beach was flouting its ability to not bob up and down. How I wanted solid ground beneath my feet, how I longed to be back at the dock. “I need a berth,” said I. And everyone gave me a wide one.

It had been an hour, which meant an hour back. I didn’t want to spoil anyone’s fun but could we please turn around? And use the engine?

We turned around. I felt the gauge on my spewometer go into the red. It was time. I grabbed the railings, lay over the side, and for the first time in over twenty years, emptied my innards through the wrong orifice. Most weight loss programs are short lived but the Chuck-O-Rama beats them all. Within a couple of minutes I’d clam chowdered until I was empty. Lighter and less green, I huddled under towels and blankets.

Back in the harbor the names of the moored boats had changed. Vomit Comet, Lady Upchuck and Torpedo Magnet all bobbed up and down knowingly as we passed by and tied up.

I won’t say I won’t try it again, but I feel I was enough of a sailor that I need not hurry back for more. I mean, everyone spoke like a pirate at some point, but I was the only one to heave too.

Sunday, August 5, 2007


Pursuant to my obligations under the articles and laws of the occupation code and in my capacity as custodian of my own internal organs, official notification of eviction is hereby given to the stone in my kidney.

This eviction is issued on the following grounds:

One, that on or about 4 a.m. of a recent Friday you did (intentionally) cause a wakeful state in your proprietor, me, consisting of abdominal pain and extreme wind breaking, causing the bowels to explode, the windows to shake and the Richter scale to get some news time.

Two, that you did (willfully and wittingly), during the course of the ensuing work day, conspire to incite rebellion and discord among my internal organs, especially my kidney which you deliberately rubbed the wrong way.

Three, that on the evening of that same Friday, you did (consciously and cripplingly), in a public theater and with malicious intent, make a difficult task (watching Pirates of the Caribbean 3) even more arduous by spreading your discomfort to the groin area when you knew full well the concession booth did not sell bags of frozen peas.

Four, that on that same night, you did (flagrantly and flatulently), ignore warnings sent via such medications as Advil, Exlax, and Simply Sleep, and that you did in point of fact increase your aggravation of tensions in the abdomen area, and induce sweating, hyperventilating and a desire to curl up fetaly.

Five, that on that same night you did, in the UCLA Emergency Room, (calculatingly and Kathy Lee) cause severe strain upon my kidneys and credit card.

You are no longer welcome and will forthwith remove yourself and your affects from my organs, entrails and other innards of diverse purpose, with all haste.

To expedite your journey and ease your passing, copious amounts of liquid are being consumed and my M&M jar has been emptied of its regular delicacies and filled with vicodin.

Should you choose to leave quietly and with little or no resistance, your departure will be seen as a gesture of goodwill and you will not be sworn at much. If however, you choose to aggravate the situation further, you are hereby warned that such procedures as lithotripsy (shock waves) are not unlawful under the Geneva Convention of 1949, or the Comic Convention of 2007, and have not been ruled out.

The contract of occupancy has been updated to state that my kidneys shall at no time be stoned. They will be checked for solid concentrations of dissolved minerals on a regular basis. If it is found that you have not vacated my innards of your own free will and volition, or have returned, appropriate action will be taken up to and including donating of said kidney to medical science, a needy patient or the internal organ black market.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Dear Network News

I am writing to congratulate you on your fine infotainment.

Things I don’t know about can’t affect me and no one understands this better than you. While newspapers still cover events in-depth, creating the fear that goes with knowledge, your broadcasts give little enough detail (and sometimes none at all) that I can live carefree and rest easy.

As I write this you are ten minutes into an hour-long evening broadcast and already you are telling me what the weather was today. This is a huge benefit. It is a great comfort for me to know that the atmospheric conditions I experienced were real and not imagined. The astonishing graphics entirely justify putting the weather ahead of the other news stories—I have even purchased a small pocketbook in which I record your temperature updates.

Your choice of anchors and presenters is equally inspired. What better way to make me watch the news than to have an impossibly beautiful person presenting it? Especially that one Asian girl…so utterly gorgeous, even in HD, that I sometimes miss what she is saying because I am so bedazzled by her unearthly good looks. I know, however, that it’s not enough to have stunning anchors, and I applaud your not letting them dwell on the more somber stories. It is important to highlight pieces that give presenters the maximum opportunity to smile. What's more, I’m amazed at how not quite funny they are. Throwing their almost witty quips around at the end of each show leaves me assured there was nothing in the broadcast I need be concerned about, while the lack of actual “funny” is inoffensive to the serious nature of what news is. Nicely balanced.

Your editing is second to none. I am speechless every time an interviewee, by the intonation of their voice, is clearly only half way through a sentence when you cut them off (to justifiably get back to the inevitably cuter anchors). Crackerjack timing every cut!

It is difficult to suggest improvements but I must. I don’t feel you give enough repeat play to dramatic video footage. Nothing brings home the point more than showing dramatic video footage over and over again; it really ingrains it into my awareness. But while you often show a clip in news promos, at the start of the show and before each commercial break—as well as when you finally get to the story—I seldom see it as a refresher while the credits roll.

You provide a great service in helping me think that I am informed. Well done network news!! Vanilla is my favorite flavor and with your broadcasts I get two scoops!!

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Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Fed, White and Blue

It is the fourth of July, you are in America, and you are English. What do you do?

As an Englishman living stateside for almost a decade, July 4th has come round with both the regularity of a well thought out calendar and an annual requirement for me to answer that question. A lot. Possibly even more than the one about how to pronounce tomato.

Most of my answers to The July Fourth Question are along the lines of:

“I’ll be defending any ship importing tea.” Ho ho.
“I’m hiring myself out to be shot at by anyone with the last name of Jefferson or Adams.” Ha ha.
“What you call Independence Day I call 'Talk Like an Australian Day.'” Chortle.

The truth is that being raised in England I didn’t think twice about July 4th. Or once for that matter. It’s not that the Brits don’t care or bear a grudge (we don’t), it’s just that while it’s a major part of US history, it’s not as prominent in that of the UK. Lots of colonies managed to escape being governed from England, and school curriculums there tend to be about the big picture: Tudor Kings and Queens, the Industrial Revolution, or the role of the Spice Girls in the beginnings of corporate created pop stars.

Since living in the US though, I’m all for it. Few and far between are the American’s that don’t make me welcome around Independence celebrations. (Though I’m not brave enough to wear my Union Jack T-shirt and run down the street demanding taxation without representation and the abolition of trial by jury).

Is it a Federal offence not to invite Brits to some kind of celebration? I always have several options to choose from; most involving obscene amounts of meat in buns, parades, and fireworks as far as the ear can hear. For that reason alone I embrace wholeheartedly American Independence and defend its inalienable right to ribs, burgers, and the pursuit of steak sauce.

So whatever quip I may answer with this Independence Day the truth is I shall be doing the same as always—gluttoning myself on the abundance of food and fun forced on me by liberated Americans.

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