Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What are you procrastinating?

A city in ruins, a warning ignored

Blindsided residents dig desperately through rubble after early-morning earthquake kills at least 179 and leaves thousands homeless, while scandal brews over seismologist's dismissed predictions

What are you procrastinating?

"The greatest amount of wasted time is the time not getting started."

-- Dawson Trotman

Procrastination seriously drains our energy and our morale. What remains undone nags at us.

What are you avoiding? Make a list of items and then review each one. Does it really need to be done? After you've reviewed your list, prioritize it and start one task today.

Please do not procrastinate taking one minute to write down your answer to this question. Capture it on paper and this will help build awareness, commitment and discipline.

"How soon not now, becomes never."

-- Martin Luther

"Talk does not cook rice."

-- Chinese proverb

"Do you know what happens when you give a procrastinator a good idea? Nothing!"

-- Donald Gardner

Leo (July 23 — Aug. 22)

It's quite rare to find people who really listen. It's a dying skill in this rushed world. That's a shame since what you are trying to tell someone is something he or she would do well to hear

Gemini (May 21 — June 21)

Some forces, like time, just can't be kept at bay. It marches inexorably on, regardless of our efforts to slow it down, send it back or even speed it up. A short rest from the rat race is all you need to rediscover the magic of life.

Cancer (June 22 — July 22)

The key to success has been hidden in a rather obvious place. Allow your brain to rest for a moment and you'll find it pops up right in front of you. Try to relax. Things are about to alter for the good.

Scorpio (Oct. 24 — Nov. 22)

You have for quite some time been wrestling with an issue. It's been a cause for concern. Arrangements aren't working and details cannot be worked out. Give it another week. Things will be much better.


Five ads I hate. Can someone stop them?

I have made a list of five ads I do not like and cannot get stopped, in the hope that someone else can. Ad agencies are most concerned with their demographic, and with not looking like perverts. I wrote to a car company once about an ad featuring a man sending his daughter off to school and licking his lips furtively as he did so: “Are you selling cars or “PEDO-MOBILES?” I asked in the voice of Lana Crosbie, Mother of Seven. The ad was gone by dawn.

If anyone ingenious agrees with me about this list, show your discontent! And we will publish the best letter you spoofed and sent. 1. Arby's Reviled, hilariously, on The Simpsons' Lord of the Flies send-up (in which a starving, stranded child said, “I'm so hungry I could eat at Arby's”) and pathetically revamped on The Apprentice, these sellers of what appears to be thinly sliced toupĂ©e hair are still hacking away.

In a new ad, a nursery of babies with the company's cowboy-hat logo dancing over their heads is shown under the slogan, “You're Never Too Young to Have a Hat Attack.” Pronounce this slogan in the manner of Joe Pesci, as many horrified online observers have, and be shocked at the thought of a room filled with tiny babies stricken with coronary disease. These tone-deaf advertisers should rest on their “I'm Thinkin' Arby's” laurels, a slogan that quite possibly persuaded over 10 people to taste food that is priced so low one wonders if “beef” is a metaphor at the home of the All American Roastburger (and other obliquely named belly bombs).

2. Canadian Club is still working this angle: Your father drank it; Your father is badass. Male nostalgia is a tiny niche market and can only be reached through evocations of absent fathers (all men cry at the Bell ad in which a gruff father barks, “I love you son,” all of them). So CC is trying to dig for this oil, with ads featuring a cool, pool-hustler dad in a cabana shirt and his hot, admiring son. Their most famous print ad currently features an image of a guy in a white shirt and tie, jacket thrown carelessly on the floor, seated in a chair with a bee-hived babe on his lap and the legend: “ Your Mom Wasn't Your Dad's First.” This is lunatic. No man wants to think of his father having sex with anyone but his mother, and even then, he doesn't want to think about that! Men want to think of their fathers not as promiscuous hipster friends, but as upright, uptight, neglectful monsters with inscrutable aesthetics, pasts and inner lives, who are (an occasion for tears) proud of them.

3. A young couple sit on a bench at a carnival, surrounded by spinning rides, balloons, concession stands and a giant clown. The man is eating some delicious carnival junk food and asks his tense, thin companion if she wants something to eat. After feverishly matriculating her day's activities, she decides that yes, she deserves a snack! And she pulls out a bag of Quaker Oats Bite Size Crispy Minis, BBQ flavour. More stunning is this: Her boyfriend tries to grab the bag from her! (And she, a bit ferally in truth, snatches it back.) The most smug, wretched ascetic on earth isn't going to buy this: At a carnival, home of pizza-on-a-stick, cotton candy, deep-fried bread, butter-drenched corn and so much more, NO ONE craves, wants or thinks of whole grains, not even the circus horses I often see eating Belgian waffles. Health-consciousness has become an Orwellian (here, I reference the talking pigs) means of exalting deprivation and deriding joy. I therefore love the obesity epidemic: Keep up the fight, my brothers and sisters!

4. MultiGrain Cheerios (or sickening intimations of a British invasion): In this ad for emasculation, I mean cereal, a hapless, lumpy Brit asks his whey-faced British wife if she is watching her weight as she dourly eats her MultiGrain Cheerios. The response: homicidal desire veiled as hurt feelings, repeated until the lumpy Brit tells himself to “shut up” while the contented cow continues to spoon cereal into her four-chambered stomach. In the United States, they show this commercial dubbed by actors without the British accents: one more reason they are a superpower and we are not. .

5. The Garnier ad featuring “international singing sensation” Chantal Kreviazuk is a marvel of poor construction and bewildering cruelty toward the aged. In the spot, as Kreviazuk raves about her glossy, dyed hair, the actress playing her (TV) mother – situated off-screen and apparently senile – keeps asking absurd questions in a high, quavering voice, such as, “What? You coloured Leo Sayer?” and similar gibberish, while Kreviazuk mocks the unseen woman's hideous head of “greys.”

From Tuesday's Globe and Mail

My memory of this ad, as it appears to be more hated than the relatively charming HeadOn headache-gel ad series. "I am over 50 and I would rather PUT PINS IN MY EYES than buy insurance from those morons," Eva Guzewski from Toronto remarked to me. The ad, as many of you know, involves an obvious psychopath, a businesswoman in her 40s or so, bashing on her steering wheel and screaming "Come awn areddy!" at a driver who is safely stopped.

"You don't drive like her," runs the voice-over. "So why are you paying the same insurance premiums as her?"

This ad for car insurance for people 50 and over fails so parlously because it attempts to associate, with nauseous condescension, the nouns "grey" and "power," then adds insult to injury by suggesting being 50 means driving like a hunched-over, hands at 10-and-two, nightmarishly ancient jalopy driver. The great race-car driver Dale Earnhardt was 50 when he died in the Daytona 500, tragically, driving nearly 240 kilometres an hour, or like a fearless bat out of hell. Psycho business woman, could you, in your dreams, drive like him? When I turn 50, I will only buy insurance from a company that, in all of its advertisements, reluctantly agrees to accept "known menaces" and "speed demons." Then I'll dye my hair pink and kick some ass. 2. Bill Croucher from Waterloo, Ont., also stabbed my memory about the Tampax Mother Nature ads, in which a tense, wired Mother presents young women in bikinis with a gift with a red bow - their menstrual periods - and commences to talk about leakage. The sexy girls laugh it off as they are well-protected by Tampax, but like so much of the relentless ageism on TV, the ad reads like a script for biological redundancy - Mother Nature, the older woman, may as well be that old lady that Playboy used to feature in the magazine's cartoons, knocking on a man's door, holding champagne and wearing a transparent negligee that revealed breasts shaped like attenuated udders, hanging to her waist. On the bright side, the ad does its job unintentionally well by reminding all young girls that biology is a bitch, and there's no stopping her.

3. What a smug little cereal Special K is. Way ahead of the diet curve, having promoted its low-fat wheaty, ricey goodness since 1956, it now virtually crows about having put the stake in Count Chocula's heart (so to speak). Its "Special K Challenge" ads are clumsy, inept and mysterious; its new ad for Special K Chocolate Delight is appalling. In it, yet another angry, fit woman opens her freezer to be serenaded by her carton of chocolate ice cream that, of course, sounds like Barry White, crooning "Aw, baby, yeah! C'mon! Have some of my sexual chocolate!" (Enough boring racial stereotypes: How do we know that chocolate doesn't speak Chinese?) Little Miss Defcon 2 slams the door and has a bowl of cereal sparsely decorated with minute shavings of what looks like spoor of some kind. This ad is further evidence that deprivation makes for tight, frowning maniacs.

4. Do we all hate women (and all people remotely senior) now? Ads geared to men celebrate their paunchy bacon gluttony and armchair-quarterback positions. Ads about men and women feature, inevitably, a shrewish female buzz-kill. (And it's not just the advertisers: The new issue of Details magazine has a fashion feature in which a hot, nearly nude woman is used as a shoe and belt rack in a spread more degrading than Larry Flynt's notorious meat-grinder Hustler cover.)

One TV ad for an osteoporosis medication (and it is true that ALL medical advertisement is disquieting) features a woman at her 50th birthday party with her best friends. One sad little cake on the table is the sole party gesture. "Welcome to your 50s," one dour hag says. "Yeah," says another, flatly. "Welcome to wrinkles and crumbling bones and coarse, werewolf-like back hair." Okay, it doesn't go that far, but it is the worst party I have ever seen: Do women not turn 50 and hire male porn stars to entertain them, while drinking absinthe and having chic pedicures involving little tropical fish eating skin off their feet? I feel that they do and I want to see a lot more of them.

5. My favourite letter, in its succinct entirety, from Rolf Auer in Vancouver: "I hate the ad for Montana's with the two talking animal heads on a wall of a restaurant (a deer and a moose, I think). It makes me think of Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn, wherein the buck's head mounted on the cabin wall laughs maniacally. I think the movie is more tasteful. ..."


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