On Sunday, just over 106 million people tuned in to watch the Super Bowl, edging out the final episode of MASH as the most watched televised event U.S. History (Get fucked, Moon Landing).  Now, I’m not a big football fan, but I enjoy the Super Bowl; dare I even say: I love it.  If you think about it, the Super Bowl is actually one of the few cultural traditions that we have in America.  We gather with friends and family for food and shared entertainment.  There are even some theories that it’s part of our tribal nature.  And since it’s one of the few times a year that advertisers can pretty much guarantee that people will be watching their ads (it’s cliché to say it, but most do agree with the “I watch it for the commercials” statement) they reel out their best commercials.  Here are a few things I learned from watching them this year’s Super Bowl Commercials :

All women are harpies that want to dominate and steal your soul, but you can get away…in a Dodge Charger while watching your Flo TV.

Misogyny was in the TV air that night.  While there were plenty of sexist commercials, they’re par for the course with advertising that airs for the biggest game of the year, but Jesus these two take the cake. Depicting whipped men who gain freedom through buying things instead of, you know, telling their girlfriends/wives they don’t want to go clothes shopping with them or carry their lip balm.

Anheuser-Busch has no clue who really drinks their product.

Once again the biggest ad presence of the night was Bud Light.  I counted four for the light beer with three more for other Budweiser brands or general branding.  And as usually, it all proved what I’ve also believed about Anheuser-Busch: they have no idea who really drinks their beers.  In all the Bud Light spots, going back for as long as I can remember, there are these young guys (mid-20’s to 30’s) going nuts over Bud Light.  I’m in that age group and I can tell you bringing a six pack of Bud Light never gets the “YEAH! Bud Light!” reaction, but more an “Awwww, Bud Light?” The only people I ever knew who get excited over Bud Light are high school girls…and I can’t go into how I know that exactly, except in states with of age of consent of seventeen or younger (God Bless the South!).

There are guys still wearing tighty whitey underwear.

Maybe it was the double whammy of the Career Builder and Dockers spots, but I was shocked (Shocked! I say) to witness so many men in white jockey underwear (though they were more a beige, which is really gross).  Haven’t we as a gender moved past this yet? Come on!  I get it if your mom is still buying your underwear for you, but not when you’re older than thirteen.  You move onto boxers or boxer briefs, just like how you upgrade to soft-core pornography from the Sport Illustrated swimsuit issue.  It’s evolution!

VolksWagen loves bullies .

Remember that “game” when you were a kid where the biggest jerk on the school bus would punch you every time he saw a VW Beetle? Well, with this ad the carmaker is setting the precedent for said child douchebags to hit for punch-buggies for ALL its models.  My arm is already numb in sympathy for grade school nerds everywhere.  But what do you expect with a company that was started by the Nazis?

Tim Tebow hits his mother.

After all the fuss made about the Focus on the Family spot staring Tim Tebow, I was surprised just how tame it was…Aside from the fact that over a third of America saw the 2007 Heisman Winner assault his mother.

Last Weekend:

The reports came across the airwave like the warning of an encroaching invading army.  Snow was coming (more specifically, a blizzard).   It is moving surely without haste– an armada of clouds sailing across thousands of Doppler screens to cover the entire Eastern seaboard in their flakes of cold white death. It…is…coming .

“It’s going to be a big one,” the weathermen said, his large bright teeth gleamed an unnatural whiteness on the television screen, foreshadowing the coming snowfall.  I sprung up from my perch on the couch, legs evenly apart, arms held up to block or strike a blow—I was in the “ready” position I learned from my six months of Judo when I was a kid.  A glance over to my girlfriend confirmed that she too had jumped into the posture from the other end of the sofa. The “women’s interests” magazine she’d been perusing tossed into the corner.   “I’ll get previsions, you secure and ready the perimeter,” she said in a flat even tone that had a tint of hurry to it.  “Copy,” I responded.

While she headed out to the grocery store, I made sure the windows were locked with no draft making it past the weather stripping, mad sure the gas heaters were working, dug out the electric space heater in case the building boiler crapping out, and a hatchet to break apart furniture for firewood if the electricity went out.   I then gathered as many weapons to defend my home for when society crumbed under the cold weight of snow.  A hammer, extra sharp steak knives, and a crossbow (yeah, I own a crossbow).  Just as I was finishing filling up as many spare containers I could find with water for when the pipes froze, my girlfriend burst in with bags of groceries, mainly canned and dried food so it wouldn’t go bad.  We then settled in, ready for the coming winter dystopia to come.

And you know what? NOTHING HAPPENED!  It snowed a lot, stopped, I did my laundry and then went to work the next day.   Despite all the warnings and everyone’s fear, it was not bid deal.   It never is. The few times that I’ve experienced being snowed it, it went something like this: I looked out and said, “It’s really coming down out there.”   Then I watched TV and about an hour later looked back outside and discovered that the roads had been rendered impassable and my family’s car was buried.  “Oh, I guess, we’re snowed in,” I said turning back to the TV. THAT’S IT!  Unless you live in some desolate rural area of America, being snowed just means you don’t go out until it stops snowing.

This is modern America damnit!  It’s not the mid 19th century on the prairies. The majority of our population has regulated itself to the suburbs, areas with paved street and governing bureaucracies, and thus have snowplows!  Seriously, it’s not that big a deal people.   So next time a big snowstorm is coming, please remain calm…or I’ll be forced to use my crossbow.

Pic via

swine-flu1In case you’ve been in a cave the past couple weeks (at the bottom of an ocean on another planet) there’s this thing going around called Swine Flu.  My initial reaction was pretty calm.  “This is seems like it’s just another Bird Flu or SARS,” I thought to myself.  And since I still had some plastic sheeting and duct tape left over from those outbreaks, it really wasn’t that much of an inconvenience when I freaked out.

As I was sealing off the windows and front door of my apartment, I was struck by the familiarity of it all.  It was if the media was maybe blowing some illness that, though horrible in the fact that people had died, was actually pretty minor when compared to all other sickness in the world.  And maybe I was buying into to the media’s blitz of searing panic, yet again.  So I decided to watch a little of the cable news channels with a doubtful eye, keeping in mind that maybe the media wasn’t so much trying to inform me, but get me scared to keep watching.  After about 45 minutes, I grabbed a baseball bat and put on a surgical mask (the mask was to prevent any flu particles that made it past the plastic sheeting and duct tape from getting into my system and the bat was to keep away anyone that looked infected).

But something struck me as I was cowering in the corner and rocking back and forth—in between the apocalyptic warnings of the coming plague by the newscasters there was a bit of actual news.  It went something like this: “We’re all going to die from swine flu! Everyone in Mexico is dead from coughing up their lungs and bleeding out of their ass! Oh yeah, Chrysler declared bankruptcy or something.  Don’t eat pork!  The flu is in the pork!”

Did you catch it? A major American automotive company declared bankruptcy and you know what?   The economy didn’t collapse in on itself.  In fact the Dow didn’t even dip below 20 points.  If the mainstream media weren’t so busy obsessing over how we’re all going to die from the flu, they’d be pouncing all over how the failure of Chrysler is another sign of how we’re all going to die from starvation.

So, while I was building my own hazmat suit from an old poncho, a couple garbage bags, and a vacuum cleaner, I got to thinking that maybe the swine flu is a good thing.  If the news stories focused on the downward spiral of the economy were affecting the stock market by scaring investors, maybe this new obsession is a way to keep the media occupied on something else and thus give the economy a chance to rebound. And while I am an expert in many areas, from classic cartoon shows of the early 90’s to metaphors for sex in pre-Victorian English literature—I’m really just an amateur in regards to understanding economics. I decided to run my theory by an expert.“I’d agree with you 100% in the fact that it is a distraction,” Jeff Mellone, a finance blogger who also works in the industry, told me.  “However, any other negative news will further the overall downturn. Any type of additional ‘panic’ will put people further into an Armageddon type of mindset. Most of that mindset does come from the media.”

I had refused to risk infection by talking to anyone face-to-face or over the phone (it made sense at the time), but Jeff was willing to answer my questions via e-mail.  He explained that the downturn seemed to come out of nowhere because the government’s initial reaction was to conceal news about the dire economic condition while covertly trying to fix the problem behind the scenes.  But then the credit market froze up and Bear Stearns collapsed, catching people off guard and creating a panic.  “Panic causes selling, selling causes margin calls, margin calls result in more selling,” said Jeff. “It’s a snowball. So overall, I can’t agree that [the media’s reaction to Swine Flu] would be positive for the economy, because anything unknown at this point is negative. People are blind mice right now, losing their tails by the dozen.”  But what about the fact that the there was no real reaction in the markets to the new about Chrysler? “I think the market closed down only 20 points based on Chrysler’s bankruptcy because people are expecting the sky to fall,” he explained.

So maybe I was wrong. Maybe we shouldn’t be weary of the Swine Flu, but of the media and its effect on us. “I think that everyone should take in all media sources,” said Jeff. “Just don’t rely on it.” And as the swine flu panic dies down to a low murmur and people began to throw around the phrase “signs of life” in regards to the economy, a possible rosy view of the future comes into view.“Yeah,” I think to myself as I venture once more into packed subway cars and crowded office buildings.  “Maybe everything is going to be okay after all.”  Or at least until the next thing comes along that could kill us all.

Hey guys, I recommend you check out Jeff’s blog, Riding the Dollar Wave. It’s a good read, even if you don’t have any money in the markets (like me, who cashed out his 401K to invest in collectable metal lunch boxes).