Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Worst Disaster Live TV Interview: No Date With Reporter During Wildfire In California Today

A wildfire is threatening a number of homes east of Los Angeles today. 
Reporter Courtney Friel of KTLA-TV in Los Angeles, was much too
focused on reporting on a wildfire today to accept a date from
a weird shirtless guy holding a dog in the fire zone. 

The intrepid reporters from television station KTLA were on the scene, giving live updates, as TV reporters do.

This unfortunate reporter, Courtney Friel, stopped the wrong person to react to the fire.

She should have known better than to stop a shirtless guy carrying a dog, but as a former reporter, I know you take what you can get while reporting at the scene.

Watch the guy, amid all the smoke, say the stupidest thing a witness has ever said to a reporter on live TV.

"Wow! You're super pretty. Want to go on a date sometime?"

Let this be a lesson on what not to say if a reporter pulls you aside to get your reaction to a breaking news story.

To get the full effect, and Friel's perfect, unflappable reaction to our shirtless guy, you gotta watch:

Gotta Love Those Tricky Live Shots On Local News

Because of the mean streak I have, I enjoy watching mishaps on local news reports.

It's live TV, so things are bound to go wrong. Often.

Want proof and a few laughs? Watch:

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

More Use For Drones: Gathering News At Disaster Zones

This post is sort of a bleed over from my sister blog, Matt's Weather Rapport, which has been focused on the nation's tornadoes this week.  
A drone took this image of tornado destruction in Arkansas.  

I just find it interesting that drones are becoming a bigger and bigger part of our lives. Including news gathering.

They're not just for weapons in murky overseas war zones anymore.

They launched a drone over Interstate 40 in Mayflower, Arkansas after a deadly, scary tornado passed through on Sunday.

The result was this fascinating footage:

Sunday, April 27, 2014

N.Y. Kindergarten Play Cancelled Because We Have To Train Kids To Be Brain Dead Cubicle Dwellers Early

The big news this week out of Elwood, New York is that the Harley Avenue Primary School kindegarten class will not be putting on its annual show like it's done in past years.  
The letter announcing no kindergarten
show in a New York school district
because students were too busy being
fed rote lessons to pass standardized tests 

According to the Washington Post, the kindergarteners have no time for such frivolity as learning to work together, collaborate, or heaven forbid, do anything that smacks of art.

The letter sent home to parents is pretty breathtaking. It reads in part:

"The reason for eliminating the Kindergarten show is simple. We are responsible for preparing children for college and career with valuable lifelong skills and know we can best do that by having them become strong readers, writers, coworkers and problem solvers. 

Please do not fault us for making professional decisions that we know will never please everyone. But know that we are making these decisions with the interests of all children in mind."

Um, excuse me, but I AM going to fault you. Putting on a show mimics real life work experience. You have to read, write, work with others and solve problems that are not predictable like in a classroom setting.

One person who commented on the Washington Post article said it best: "Since when is reading a script, interpreting a part, following directions, coordinating activities with others and presenting in front of an audience NOT age-appropriate career readiness training for Kindergarteners?

I guess the problem is you also have to be creative to put on a show. Yes, creativity is important in the world of work, but that doesn't seem to be the goal of the U.S. educational system anymore.  Plus, the students might find it interesting, and want to learn more about this. Or it might inspire them to ask questions about any other topic.

We can't have that.

It seems whenever a school becomes embroiled in some controversy, administrators at this school did not respond to the Washington Post for comment. There seems to be a culture in public education of being wimpy and just hiding when someone has the audacity to ask about the reasoning behind the way our children are taught.

There's good reason to question the way they're taught.

As the Washington Post article notes: "This didn't come out of the blue. Kindergarten (and even preschool) has increasingly become academic - at the expense of things such as recess and the arts - in this ear of standardized test based school reform. 

In most states, educators are evaluated in large part on test scores of students (sometimes students they don't have) and on showing that their students are 'college and career ready,' the mantra of the Obama administration's education initiatives." 

In an earlier Washington Post article on Feb. 6 reporter Valerie Strauss wrote:

"This doesn't leave much time for play. But even to the extent we want to promote meaningful learning in young children, the methods are likely to be counterproductive, featuring an emphasis on direct instruction of skill and rote rehearsal of facts. 

This is the legacy of behavioralism: Children are treated as passive receptacles of knowledge, with few opportunities to investigate topics and pose questions that they find intriguing. In place of discovery and exploration, tots are trained to sit still and listen, to memorize lists of letters, numbers and colors. 

Their success or failure is relentlessly monitored and quantified, and they're 'reinforced' with stickers or praise for producing right answers and being compliant."

By conspiratorial mind believes this is the point of teaching children this way--so they're not the type of person who grow up to be the type that ask questions and agitage for answers.

No, educators and industry and politicians don't meet behind closed doors and dungeons to make kids docile. But our current society, with its so called one percent, with the concentration of power and wealth among a few oligarchs, really, don't want people asking questions about this state of affairs.

So they encourage the kind of climate that ended the Harley Avenue Public School Kindergarten show.

As a side note, notice how the letter kind of asked the parents not to question the judgement of the administrators who canceled the show. ("Please don't fault us making professional decisions.") They're trying to teach the parents, as well as the kids not to rock the boat, not to question, not to probe.

If we don't teach children to think on their own, to ask questions, to pursue their passions, if we don't teach them to be creative, to gather strings of information into a cohesive theory or conclusion, they won't rock the boat as adults.

Our society needs boat rockers, really. But those in power, some of whom have way too much power, don't want that.  They don't want us to ask questions, criticize, analyze.

If they create a world of humorless, robots and minions disguised as people, they can continue to take advantage of all of us.  

Saturday, April 26, 2014

How To Look Like A Scumbag In One Easy Lawsuit

In October, 2012, three teenage boys, as teenagers tend to do, decided to go on a 1:30 a.m. bike ride.  
Brandon Majewski, 17, died in 2012 when
he was hit by an SUV while riding his bike late at night
Now, the woman who hit him is suing him and his
family for $3.5 million.  

Not necessarily the best idea, but, we've all done things that aren't great.

This ended in tragedy, however. An SUV driven by Sharlene Simon, 42, slammed into the three teens, killing Brandon Majewski, 17, and injuring the other two.

Some authorities said she was speeding a bit and probably should have seen reflectors on the bikes. But if we left the situation as is, it would be a horrible tragic accident. Depressingly sad, but not criminal

But, in a move that's sure to make Sharlene Simon at least temporarily one of the most hated women in the world, she has launched a $1.35 million lawsuit against the family of the deceased teen, according to the Toronto Sun, and the deceased teen as well. 

She's also suing the two surviving teens and their families. She says she's suffering psychological suffering, including depression, anxiety, irritability and post-traumatic stress.

Yeah, and I'm sure the family of the dead kid are just hunky-dory. Right.

In fact, an older brother of Majewski later died of a drug and alcohol overdose. Their father said he was self medicating to dull the pain of the death, the Sun reported.

The Majewski family lawyer says he's never seen anything like it.

"In all of my years as a lawyer, I have never seen anyone ever sue a child that they killed...It's beyond the pale," said lawyer Brian Cameron.

It's true Majewski's family is also suing Simon, but such lawsuits against the driver of a car involved in a bicycle death on a road are common.

Not to trivialize a tragedy, but is Sharlene Simon the worst person in the world at PR.  I hope she didn't think this lawsuit would be kept secret. Everyone would blab about this in outrage.

Geez, she's not a little selfish, is she?

I don't know if she'll win or not, but if she does, I hope she enjoys the money. She won't have much else, since everybody would hate her so much.

More Evidence That I'm A Sucker For Those "Got Talent" Shows

Arisxandra Libantino  
Yes, I continue to be an obnoxious sucker for those talent shows that are spreading all over TV worldwide like a major flu outbreak.

I stumbled upon this video, from about a year ago, of an 11 year old girl auditioning on "Britain's Got Talent."

Her name is Arisxandra Libantino, and she picked the challenging song "One Night Only" by Jennifer Hudson.

Tells us what you think. Are you blown away by this girl, too?  A star is born

Friday, April 25, 2014

After Handing Michelle Obama Dad's Resume, Girl AND Dad Should Get Hired

You have to hand it to this little girl.
Michelle Obama hugs the girl who gave the
First Lady her dad's resume.  

The 10 year old was at the White House's annual "Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day."  Her mom works at the White House, but her dad is unemployed and looking for a job.

So the girl did what any sensible person would do. Go directly to the top.  When she got the chance to meet Michelle Obama, she handed the First Lady her father's resume. 

"My dad's been out of a job for three years and I wanted to give you his resume," Charlotte Bell said.

Michelle Obama gave the girl a hug. The two chatted a bit and the event went on

When the thing was over, Obama was seen leaving the room, resume in hand, hopefully to give it to the White House HR director.  

Maybe the dad AND the girl will get hired. After all, the kid showed initiative.

There Might Be Firings But I Bet VA Hospital Staffers Won't Be Charged With What Seems Like Murder

CNN and other media outlets have been investigating delays in Veterans Administration appointments and hospitalizations for veterans that have led to needless deaths.
Did the VA hospital in Phoenix delay or deny
care to veterans?  

Their report this week on a Phoenix, Arizona really takes the cake. Lots of politicians say veterans deserve all the help they can get, they served our country and they deserve the utmost respect.

But when it comes to shelling out money to offer that respect and service to veterans, it all goes out the window.

In Phoenix, according to CNN reporters Scott Bronstein and Drew Griffin, along with Anderson Cooper, the VA hospital had two lists: An official one that falsely reported to Washington DC headquarters that veterans were being treated, and a second secret list that was the truth.

The truth being they were making veterans wait weeks and months to get an appointments to see doctors. Sometimes for really scary medical problems. It's estimated 40 veterans died because the Phoenix VA hospital basically blew them off.

It's kind of murky why, but I suspect lack of resources and money going to the hospital from the federal government played a part.

They're doing this to veterans, people!

According to CNN, Sam Foote, a doctor who recently retired from the hospital described the scheme:

"The VA requires its hospitals to provide care to patients i a timely manner, typically with 14 to 30 days, Foote said

According to Foote, the elaborate scheme in Phoenix involved shredding evidence to hide the long list of veterans waiting for appointments and care. Officials at the VA, Foote says, instructed their staff to not actually make doctor's appointments for veterans within the computer system. 

Instead, Foote says, when a veteran comes in seeking an appointment, 'they enter information into the computer and do a screen capture hard copy printout. They then do not save what was put into the computer so there's no record that you were ever here,' he said.

Now that this situation has been made public, there are the usual calls for investigations and hearings. The inspector general is involved, officials at the Phoenix VA hospital are frantically giving out non-information in Corporate Speak and lawmakers are calling for heads to roll.

That's all very good, these investigations.

But it makes you wonder how the people who are supposed to be taking care of veterans everywhere else are actually doing so.  There have already been many, many reports of severe delays in getting health care to veterans. 

Of all the people we owe top notch care, to, it's veterans.  But since a lot of veterans don't have millions of dollars available to lobby politicians, I guess they're not that important.

If that's true, I'm sad.  Get rich and you get what you want. Make big sacrifices for your country and get thrown away?  That's not the country I want to see.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Traffic in Ethiopian Intersection Might Be World's Scariest

You thought your morning commute was bad? Here's how cars and trucks move through an intersection in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.

No crashes in this video which is speeded up to help demonstrate the chaos. I would love to see the accident data for this traffic circle. Yikes!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Proof That Firefighters Have A VERY Tough Job

Sure, carrying a flaming propane tank out of a building
is perfectly safe. Really!  
Two videos show why firefighting can be a drag. And dangerous.

In China, a restaurant was badly damaged in a blaze.

Firefighters mostly had the fire out, but a propane tank in the building continued to spout flames, and seemed ready to explode.

No worries, firefighter Huanpu Jiangwu just carried the burning tank out of the restaurant, the flames inches from his head.

Never mind that it could have blown up any time.


Next, we have a firefighter helping to put out a truck fire, somewhere. He's got his ladder against the truck, his hose running.

But things don't go so great. (It's fun, in a sick sort of way, to see how things deteriorate when he's out of view as traffic passes.)


World Premier Play "The Quarry" Hit INCREDIBLY Close to Home

Last night, I went with my husband, Jeff Modereger, to the last dress rehearsal before opening night of the Vermont Stage Company's production of a play called "The Quarry"   
"The Quarry" a play making its world
premier in Burlington, Vermont this
week, hit close to home, and has me in a
pensive mood.  

Its world premier is tonight and has a run in Burlington, Vermont through May 11.

Jeff is the scenic designer for the play, so we chose last night to go, since he had to be there anyway in case any last minute issues came up.

(Information on obtaining tickets, times of the show are available by clicking the hyperlink in this sentence.)

I hope tickets for the play sell out, but I'm glad there weren't a lot of people there watching "The Quarry" last night.

I got surprisingly emotional, because the play hit incredibly close to home.

"The Quarry," written by Shelburne, Vermont native Greg Pierce, with a musical score by his brother, Randal Pierce, takes place in an old marble quarrying town somewhere in Vermont. (The playwright doesn't specify which town)

There's several old marble quarrying towns in Vermont, and I grew up in one, West Rutland.

The play involves some strange goings on at the quarry, which produces beautiful green marble. A local teenage girl has gone missing around the quarry. The working quarry is abruptly shut down because of a mysterious "culturally significant" find in there.

Human bones are found, too.

All the while, the widow Jean, who has lived in the town all her life and lived in a house she and her late husband Sammy built within sight of the quarry, offers a running commentary.

She really loved Sammy, but now that Sammy is dead, Jean's only friend is a great blue heron that sometimes circles the quarry. She's bitter, doesn't really like most people, and people don't like her, judging her as "ornery"

During a pivotal scene, Jean is on the phone with her daughter in Texas. We learn that Sammy was the go-to person in town for anybody living there who wanted to know anything about themselves. And Jean is as bitter as ever.

My dad is the go-to person in West Rutland when people there want to know anything about themselves.

But the impact of this moment in "The Quarry," as it pertains to my father, was the least of it.

The bigger issue is, small towns in Vermont -- small quarry towns -- can be interesting, stifling, boring, funny, pretty, grim, insular, odd, friendly. Sometimes all simultaneously.

Quarries themselves involve the same adjectives. I know, I've been in them. And my husband's set design of the quarry captures all these feelings so well. I know I'm biased about his work but the same feelings I had when I went into quarries emerged when I saw Jeff's set.

The set, with its rendering of deep marble walls and marble block, made me feel a little nostalgic, a little claustrophobic, and just a tiny bit fearful.

I remember fear being a subtext of my life growing up in West Rutland, just as it turned out to be among residents of the town in "The Quarry" Yes, West Rutland was safe, physically. But that's it.

In any small town, there's fear. That insularity you get from some people is a symptom of fear of outsiders.  They're not from here. Don't trust them.

Jean's fear, and my own mother's lesser but still real loneliness in West Rutland in all those years living there, is based in part of fear of the unknown.

Jean's inability to fully accept love, and the same trait in some of my relatives, is based in fear.

I even wonder if Sammy's quest of knowledge about everything, including the town, and my own father's deep intellectual curiosity, was somehow based on fear.  Was it fear of not knowing what's going on?   Was my dad's decision to own a bar for decades, and his gregariousness, in just some tiny part a fear of being alone?

I guess anywhere you live, how you live, who you live with, there's fear. We even fear the good things.  Will they go away? Are they an illusion? Do we deserve them? What if we don't?

There is something of a fantasy scene in "The Quarry" that I won't get into because I don't want to reveal more of the plot.  But it's about reaching out beyond the fear.

Is the ability to reach beyond our fears just a fantasy? Is there hope for people who can't seem to go beyond their fears? I don't know.  Or is that unreal moment in "The Quarry" obtainable for the rest of us, in some shape or form?

That's what made me so emotional watching the excellent production of "The Quarry."  Like many people, I'm not often good at overcome fear, whatever that fear might be. The similarities to my life, and the comparisons to some of the people in my life that I saw unfold in "The Quarry" gave me that proverbial punch in the gut.

Unfortunately, that fear, that lack of leaping, stunts our life. Just like a small marble quarry town can limit our horizons if we let it.

Driving home from the play last night, I thought of a song that hadn't crossed my mind in years. It's Simon and Garfunkle's "My Little Town" from the mid 1970s.

It's a sad and angry tune about growing up in a small factory town.

A piece of the lyrics go:

And after it rains
There's a rainbow
But all of the colors are black
It's not that the colors aren't there.
It's just imagination they lack.

I guess letting go of fear is in part letting your imagination take over. Which the pivotal scene in "The Quarry" told us to do.

As the song "My Little Town" approaches its bitter close, Simon and Garfunkle repeat, over and over, with some urgency.

"Nothing but the dead and I
back in my little town"

The dead, I think, are not literally dead, but are the people who let fear of life win. I have to remember that, and not let it happen.

Easier said than done, but well worth the try.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

General Mills (Reluctantly) Gets Rid of Anti-Suing Arbitration Rule

You might have read my screed last week about how General Mills, the makers of such things as Cheerios and stuff under the Betty Crocker label, had a new terms of use clause.
Betty Crocker, or at least her parent company
General Mills, now says it won't force you
into an arbitration session if you deal with them,
them get injured by one of their products.  

It basically said if you interacted with them, like downloaded a coupon or something, you lost your right to sue them.

Instead, if, in the unlikely event something bad happened to you through a General Mills product, like, I don't know, cooties in the Cheerios, you'd have to go through an arbitration process.

I guess a lot of other people were annoyed with this, too, and it became a PR nightmare for General Mills. So they rescinded the arbitration deal, but insist we're losing out on a Really Great Deal.

General Mills said arbitration would have "streamlined" the process for consumers if there were a product problem.

But Consumerists says they're still pulling the wool over our eyes on that one. 

Here's what Consumerist says:

"Arbitration clauses force every individual consumer to give up his or her right ot a lawsuit into a process that is proven to be unbalanced in favor of the business with massive legal teams at their beck and call."

As General Mills notes, people can still participate in the arbitration, which the consumer could theoretically win, but the arbitration clause means most lawyers won't get involved on the consumer's sice because of the unbalance and because damages are severely limited.

A consumer might have a good case, but the cost of making that case would far outweigh any damages he or she might receive under the arbitration clause, according to Consumerist.

So, the bottom line is, the process would have been streamlined and improved for General Mills, not you and me.

The fact that General Mills retracted this boneheaded arbitration deal in the face of bad PR means every once in awhile, we can win against big companies that try to take fairness and balanced business dealings away from us.

Bunnies Do What Bunnies Do: Why You Shouldn't Trust Them On Live TV

Thank Gawd Easter is over!  
The newscast at WBIR in Knoxville goes off
the rails due to bunny sex. 

Now we don't have to fear the sight of bunny sex.

Television station WBIR in Knoxville, Tennessee thought it would be cute to have bunnies on the news desk in the run up to Easter.

But, bunnies do what bunnies do, and things didn't go as planned.

And there was probably the inevitable little kid question somewhere in the Knoxville area asking, "Why are those bunnies fighting?"

Uh, they weren't fighting.

Here's the video of live TV gone awry:

Monday, April 21, 2014

"Now It Doesn't Hurt Anymore." Boston Marathon Win Has Me In Happy Tears

Although this just happened a little while ago as I write this, I'm sure everyone in the world knows that a guy named Meb Keflezighi has won the Boston Marathon.  
Meb Keflezighi winning the Boston Marathon today.  

He's the first American to do so since 1983.

There will be a lot of commentary about the symbolism of an American win a year after the Boston Marathon bombing.

Certainly a nice touch, to put it mildly.

And there will be a lot of commentary about the interesting juxtaposition of having an immigrant win the Boston marathon, a year after some ugly comments about immigrants, given the Boston Marathon bombers last year were immigrants.

In a post race interview, in which Keflezighi looks about as "exhausted" as if he'd just walked half a block instead of winning the marathon, he said, "You know what? I'm blessed to be an American."

I also love it that you can see briefly, in the background among the spectators right after Keflezighi's win, a man in a white cowboy hat near the finish line.

The white cowboy hat guy is Carlos Arredondo, who was in the iconic Boston Marathon bombing photo as he helped rush a greviously injured spectator, Jeffrey Baumann to medics, a move that saved Baumann's life. By the way, Arredondo is another immigrant, from Costa Rica.

As the Fox news story in the above link notes, Arredondo has become something of a comforter in chief for Boston. And now we have Keflezighi to add to the mix.

But I won't worry about the politics now. You'll see the video, below, all over the place over the next few days but I have to share it now, anyway. The announcers are besides themselves as Keflezighi comes in for the win.

And another side isuse. Keflezighi is 38 years old! How does such a "geriatric" guy win the Boston Marathon?

One of the announcers says near the end of the clip, "Now it doesn't hurt anymore."


Kid Gets Cast For Broken Leg In Best Possible Way.

At a military hospital near Fort Drum, New York, a little girl was treated for a broken foot, and doctors had to put a cast on it.
Army Staff Sgt Shareef Stokely awesomely
raps out instructions to Jayden Bennett on how to
take care of the cast on her broken foot.  

One doctor, Army Staff St. Shareef Stokely, had to give the kid instructions on how to take care of the cast. He wanted Jayden Bennett, 8, to remember the instructions.

Jayden's mother, Jessica Bennett took the video. "The medic was amazing, Bennett told NBC's Today show.

"He was actually singing some Disney tunes before he even started putting the cast on her just to make her feel more comfortable."

This is how he have instructions on how to take care of the cast.  Genius! Watch:

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Mexico Quake Creates Resort Style Wave Pool

That big 7.2 earthquake in Mexico last week caused some damage and scared the bejeezus out of a lot of people.
Part of a building collapses during last week's quake
in Mexico.  

It also created something of a resort style wave pool out of a standard issue swimming pool at one location in Mexico.

Too bad people were understandably terrified of the actual quake to enjoy the wave pool.

But it is a fascinating short video of what an earthquake can do.


Kids Save Their Own Lives By Being Totally Obnoxious To Criminals

Kids can sure be annoying.  
Willie Myrick, 9, and Hezekiah Walker. Willie
saved himself from a kidnapper by repeatedly singing
Walker's song "Every Praise." 

The noise, the yelling, the hitting, the running around. It can be just too much.

Too much for criminals, anyway.

Two stories are circulating this weekend of kidnapped children who saved their own skin by being blessedly obnoxious.

In one case, blessedly is the operative word here.

Earlier this month, Willie Myrick, 9, was outdoors in the Atlanta, Georgia area when a man snatched him, shoved him into his car and took off.

Willie kept singing the gospel song "Every Praise" until the kidnapper got fed up with all that singing and pushed the kid out of the car, according to WMAZ in Macon, Georgia.

Willie told his church congregation later that the man kept cursing and telling him to shut up before eventually kicking him out. "He opened the door and threw me out...He told me not to tell anyone."

Well, I guess Jesus does save when you praise him.  Willie wasn't hurt, but police are still looking for the kidnapper.

On the bright side, Willie, who as you can tell is a huge gospel fan, got to meet the guy who wrote the song "Every Praise" The songwriter, Hezekiah Walker, heard the story and showed up at the church to sing the song with Willie and the rest of the congregation.

Note: The is the first time I've heard "Every Praise," since I don't follow gospel music. Not a bad song, so thanks, Willie, for introducing it to me.

Meanwhile, in San Antonio, a car containing two twin boys, age 7 and their one year old sister was carjacked while one of their parents had run into the house to grab a baby bottle.

The twins kept punching the carjacker with their fists and a rubber snake until this kidnapper, too, had enough with obnoxious kids.    (Note: Turn the sound down before clicking on the link: The television station has one of those annoying autoplay ads that won't let you stop it)

Yep, all that horseplay does pay off. The kids were uninjured, says ABC news.

Frankly, given these stories, I think police departments should hire kids as an effective crime fighting tool. Feed 'em lots of sugar and let them go after the bad guys.

You bet the streets will be safe if that happens.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A Korean Cell Phone Symphony To Musically Start Your Saturday

When a cell phone goes off, it can be annoying, especially if you're trying to concentrate.

The Korean cell phone "orchestra" 
If 30 of them go off, sometimes you get a nice musical interlude.

Such was the case recently, when somebody in Korea brought together 30 cell phones and four pages, programmed them in just the right way to offer a little bit of music.

The Korean telecommunications company SK Telecom put this together to celebrate 30 years of mobile electronics in the country.

Korea has probably the fastest Internet connections of any country on Earth.

You probably don't recognize the song, as it's a jingle from a previous SK Telecom ad

A strangely fascinating video to watch and listen to:

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Scariest, Funniest, Best Political Campaign Jingle EVER

I know almost nothing about the Republican primary race in Mississippi between U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran and his challenger Chris McDaniel.   
Supporters of Tea Party backed Mississippi U.S. Senate
candidate Chris McDaniel sing his praises, spectacularly. 

I only know they're both pretty conservative, as you'd expect among Mississippi conservatives, and that McDaniel is a Tea Party favorite.

What I do know is my reaction to a video backers of McDaniel put out by a group called the Boomers.

The hair styling is my favorite part. The guys with their sunglasses and strange melding of Elvis and the Beatles on their heads is one thing.

But the women! I'm not sure whether they're actually drag queens, but I doubt a conservative like McDaniel would hire drag queens to promote his candidacy.

I like the setting with the gazebo, too. You're suppose to think "Old Time Mississippi," but doesn't the heavy car traffic and the gas station in the background ruin the effect?

I'm being critical, I know. The Boomers sure do have some enthusiasm, so I have to give them a lot of credit for putting it out there. Good for them!

It is truely a work of art. Skip past the really, really bad acting for the first minute and enjoy the spectacle. I sure did!

79-Year-Old Salsa Dance Now Wowing The World

One of the biggest viral videos this year is one that came out this month: It shows acrobatic salsa dancer Paddy Jones, and her partner Nico on the show "Britain's Got Talent."  
Paddy Jones and her dance partner Nico om
"Britain's Got Talent."  

Jones is 79 years old.

And amazing.

She already holds the Guinness World Record title as the oldest acrobatic salsa dancer and has already won a number of talent shows.

But her star turn on "Britain's Got Talent" and the rather moving give and take between the judges and Jones is taking the world by storm.

She's more proof that talent and fitness and poise is for people of any age.

This is especially true in the video after Simon Cowell prematurely pressed his "reject" button before the performance really got off the ground.

He regretted the reject and happily praised Jones' performance.

Watch and dance along with Paddy Jones:

Thursday, April 17, 2014

An Excellent Reason To Hate Cheerios, Betty Crocker And Nature Valley

Whatever you do, don't say on Facebook or Twitter that you like Cheerios or any other product made by General Mills.  
With parent company General Mills
new "arbitration" agreement, Cheerios
suddenly taste like crap to me.  

Don't download or obtain any of their coupons. Pretend they don't exist. At least on line.  Don't do anything that has to do with Betty Crocker. She's now a scary whore, her owner/pimp is General Mills.

Nature Valley? Well, the parent company is a valley all right.

Why am I going off on these products so badly?

In the latest scumbag corporate move, General Mills says if you have any interaction with them like I've just described, you can't sue them for any reason, says the New York Times. 

You'd instead have to go to arbitration sessions set up by General Mills, and the deck will be so stacked against you, you probably won't win.

True, it's unlikely General Mills will do anything that will make you want or need to sue them.

But what if glass shards somehow end up in your bowl of Cheerios? What if you have a raging peanut allergy, and the General Mills box says there are no peanuts in the ingredients, but yet there are?

Well, you're screwed. And not just health wise. If you previously "liked" Cheerios on Facebook, General Mills will tell you to go pound sand if you get very sick or die from using eating their products.

Yeah, General Mills, in typical Big Corporate Speak, says they're doing you a favor because if something goes wrong you won't have to go through the pain and trouble of hiring a lawyer.

Actually, no. They're just trying not to get sued, to save their bottom line.

So much for the goodwill General Mills generated with their multi-racial family commercials.

(UPDATE: Amid the swirl of bad publicity over this Thursday night, General Mills said merely liking them on Facebook or Twitter won't stop you from suing. But as the New York Times pointed out Friday, the policy is muddled and can be interpreted as a ban on suing the company. )

Now back to our regularly scheduled rant:

You could boycott General Mills, but other companies might be doing this too, although the New York Times said this is the first major food company to pull this stunt.

These "you can't sue because you interacted with us" clauses are buried in a lot of credit card and on line companies' terms of agreement verbiage.

You've seen those terms of agreement. Pages and pages of legalese that nobody has the time or wherewithal to read. So you just sign up.

These companies know it's not humanly possible to wade through these long legal tracts. They could make them simple and easy to read. But that would defeat the purpose. The terms of agreement are not designed to lay out what you can and cannot buy.

They're designed to be daunting so you don't read them. Like I said, corporate scumbags trying to squeeze every penny out of you, and preventing you from getting relief if their product injures you or screws up your life.

Some states don't really let these clauses hold much water and you still might be able to sue, but some "pro business" states say they're fine. Because corporations NEVER do anything wrong and people who get injured by companies are just lazy losers trying to get a quick buck.

Yes, there is such a thing as a frivolous lawsuit, but there's also such a thing as a legit one.

But the deck is getting more and more stacked against you. A Whataburger joint in Texas even put up a notice that you can't sue, you have to go to faux arbitration if you just step into the place, says Mother Jones. 

If a company injures you through neglect or malfeasance, you're on your own, pal.

I'm sure as hell NOT going to have Cheerios for breakfast tomorrow. And probably not ever.


Eyewitless News: Compilation Of The Best TV News Interviews

Every time something happens, the TV news crews show up to interview eyewitnesses to tell them what happened.
This surfer dude in a big bad storm is one of several
colorful interviewees local news reporters captured.

Every once in awhile you get a gem

So, as a rainy/snowy/floody day time waster watch this compilation of the best eyewitnesses on the news we've ever seen.

The compilation is even entertaining DESPITE the obnoxious ad that pops in the middle and won't go away.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dream On: Steve Tyler, Aerosmith, Do Great Boston Strong Tribute On Annivesary

I've never been a big Aerosmith fan.
Steve Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, along with the
Southern California Children's Chorus, pay
tribute to the Boston Marathon bombing victims 

Don't get me wrong, I totally respect the band and lead singer Steve Tyler. But Aerosmith is just not totally my cup of tea.

But their tribute to the Boston Marathon bombings on the one year annivesary of the attack I think increases everybody's fandom, and respect for Aerosmith.

Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith put together a video of their signature song "Dream On" from 1973 as a tribute to the Boston Strong people who were there that day, and everyone that supports them.

It doesn't hurt that they get an assist from the Southern California Children's Chorus with this.

Aerosmith is almost as synonymous to Boston as the Old North Church, Fenway Park, and Faneuil Hall, so it fits that they would do this.

The tribute is done with class and style, in Tyler and Perry's own fashion. So, in the spirit of Boston Strong, here's the excellent video:

World's Worst Young Woman Super Mad At Cyclist She Hit Because She Was Texting While Driving

I nominate Kimberley Davis, 21, of Australia as the worst young woman on the planet.
This church sign is a fitting illustration
for this post, but I don't think Kimberley Davis
is good enough to meet Jesus.  

I say this because she was texting with seven different phone numbers as she drove through a small town in western Australia.

She hit and seriously injured a cyclist, local police said, according to the Australian newspaper The Standard.

The lovely Kimberley's reaction was as follows:  "I just don't care because I've already been through a lot of bullshit and my car is like pretty expensive and now I have to fix it."

She continued: "I'm kind of pissed off that the cyclist has hit the side of my car. I don't agree that people and texting could hit a cyclist."

Police said Kimberley was "nice" enough to call emergency responders to the accident scene, but refused to help the injured cyclist and left him lying on the side of the road.

A judge fined our um, fine young woman $4,500 and took her driver's license away for nine months.

The cyclist suffered a broken spine and other injuries. There were fears he'd be left a paraplegic, but he is recovering and is walking.

As for Kimberley, the most fitting punishment would have been to ban her from ever again touching a smart phone. She's too dumb for one.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Surprise, Wonderful, Cinematic Firestone Tire Ad Makes Me Happy

As I always do in those rare instances when somebody manages to produce an advertisement that's actually compelling and well made, I must give props today to Firestone Tires and their ad agency Leo Burnett Chicago    
Add caption

Last night, while watching "The Voice" and trying to ignore the boring people in commercials yell at me to buy clothes and cars, Firestone got my attention right away.

I saw a young guy adding gasoline to the tank of a battered old pickup truck with really nice tires in the middle of nowhere in some dusty place in the American west.

A country singer on the radio warbles "True love will find you in the end." then the young guy cuts the music and the engine as he comes to an abrupt stop at a tired, weather beaten farm house.

We see a woman in a bride's dress, carrying a hound dog run out of the house and into the guy's truck as they make their escape to elope. This scene is interspersed with glimpses of a middle aged couple in their own battered vehicle (again with great tires!) leave a store that's seen better days to go home.

The two vehicles, with the eloping couple in one, and the parents, the middle aged couple, in the other then meet on a road.  (I won't give away the ending. You'll have to watch the video at the bottom of this post)

This commercial is so cinematic and tells a wonderful story with so few words, it does get your attention and is really a work of art.

There has been a welcome mini-trend in advertising in which agencies try to tell a compelling story to get your attention. I hope this trend expands.

It's almost enough to make me run out of the house now and buy some Firestone tires.

Here's the awesome ad.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Is The DEA A Little Too Interested In Your Spring Gardening?

Apparently, we need to use a little caution when going to garden centers this spring, especially if those garden centers sell hydroponic equipment.
OK gardeners, you're busted. Don't tell
the DEA you're just starting tomatoes indoors
They know it's drugs!  

In some areas of the Midwest, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration is staking out garden centers that sell hydroponic equipment, then conducting raids on households whose occupants were seen buying the stuff, says the Huffington Post, Patch, and other media outlets. 

Of course, a number of people who buy hydroponic equipment indeed use it to help grow pot. One of the people who were staked out indeed had some.

Angela Kirking, 46, was arrested in a raid on her place three weeks after she bought a bottle of organic fertilizer at one of these garden centers. It turns out she had less than a third of an ounce of pot at her place.

Yeah, possessing a third of an ounce of pot is illegal in Illinois, but staking out a garden center, conducting a three week investigation then having a big SWAT team conduct this huge raid on Kirking's place seems to be a bit of overkill don't you think?

DEA officials were asked that very question about overkill, but they're not answering questions.

It was even worse for the Harte family in suburban Kansas City last spring, according to the Associated Press. Adlyn and Robert Harte, both former CIA employees, thought it would be fun to buy some hydroponic equipment to teach their kids about gardening.

But the DEA surveillance caught the couple buying the hydroponic equipment.  So the DEA, like they seem to like to do, conducted another one of their dramatic SWAT team style raids on the Harte home last spring.

The "illicit" plants they found in the house were: Three tomato plants, one melon plant and two butternut squash plants.

I wonder how much this raid cost taxpayers?  The gall of the Hartes! Growing vegetables under grow lights and hydroponics!

And it could get more expensive. The Hartes are suing, because they said police and drug officials had no basis to carry out the raid. (They seem to have a strong case)

So, gardeners, now that it's spring, don't garden suspiciously! No grow lights to get plants started early indoors! No hydroponics!  Even buying fertilizer is suspect.

The DEA is watching, and they know that tomatoes are a gateway drug. You grow one tomato plant, and soon you'll graduate to a pot farm and a meth lab.

Or something like that. Maybe the DEA wants us all to stick to McDonald's and Twinkies?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Can You Keep This Many Balls In The Air At Once?

Here's a fun video:  Watch this guy balance on an oversized soccer ball while juggling lots of other soccer balls. Talk about multi-tasking!

So, watch Zhora from the Moscow State Circus do what you certainly can't do:

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Nine Month Old Kid Gets Away With "Attempted Murder"

Ever hear people say the little kid is so cute he could get away with murder?
Little Mohammed Musa, nine months didn't
commit attempted murder in Pakistan,
despite what police tried to say.  

Well, technically, in Pakistan one did. At least attempted murder.

Pakistani police, in a move that made them a worldwide laughing stock last month charged a nine month old kid with attempted murder.  

Authorities claimed the kid joined family members in attacking police and gas company officials with stones and wooden rods.

Yeah, I'm sure little Mohammed Musa was the ring leader of this crime spree, too.

What really seems to be going on, according the kid's grandfather, Mohammed Yasin, is corruption, according to the RT report:

"Yasin claims the police had fabricated the charged because they were colluding in a plot to illegally evict them from their land and had illicityly obtained an order to sever the gas connection.

'The police and gas company officials came without any notice and started removing gas meyters from houses. Residents started protesting and blocked the road but ended the protest when senior police officers arrived in the area and assured them that no injustice would be done,' Yasin told AFP."

Now, after weeks of listening to the world talk about how stupid and moronic the Pakistani police force is, the kid is off the hook. 

According to the New York Times, police have now decided to drop the charges. 

Apparently, maybe it is a little wimpy of police and government officials to be afraid of a nine month old kid, who can't even say the words "attempted murder" much less commit the crime.

Little Mohammed Musa still faces charges of First Degree Cuteness, at least in the Worldwide Court of Public Opinion.

Woman Is Mugged While TV Reporter Interviews Her About Muggings

In Brazil this past week, local media were doing stories about the high crime rate in Rio de Janeiro and other big cities.  
A mugger snatches a woman's necklace while
a TV reporter interviews her about a rash of muggings

One television station was doing an on the street interview about the subject with a passerby when a kid grabbed the woman's necklace and took off.

Kind of proves the point the television journalist was trying to make about crime, huh?

The reporter tried to chase the kid, but the teen was too fast. Police later caught him, though.

Here's the video:

Friday, April 11, 2014

Zero Sympathy Out There For Owner Of BMW Firefighters Damaged To Enable Them To Put Out Large, Life-Threatening Fire

Some guy in the Boston area is now figuring out what to do now that his brand new BMW is missing many of its windows and has big angry dents in its body.
The infamous BMW in front of a hydrant during
a big East Boston blaze Wednesday night.  

The guy's ego must have big, angry dents, too, judging from the reactions to this story. Few people have sympathy for him.  Serves him right, though.

I case you haven't heard, the guy parked his two day old beautiful BMW right in front of a fire hydrant the other day.  That's always the wrong thing to do.

And the BMW got his karma right away.

According to WBZ in Boston, a Toyota caught fire in an alley way, and the fire quickly spread to three buildings. The fire went to eight alarms as the buildings were engulfed.

Firefighters needed every available hydrant in the neighborhood to keep even more buildings from going up in flames, but Bozo's BMW was parked in front of the hydrant, a block from the fire, and blocking the hydrant.

Guiding a hose over the top of the car from the hydrant to the fire wouldn't work because it put too much of a kink in the hose, preventing water from getting to the fire. ("They weren't watering their tomatoes," one commenter at Gawker said about this situation)

So, firefighters smashed out the passenger windows and fed the hose through the interior of the car. They also had to move the car a bit to get the kink of the hose completely out so, they picked up the car and moved it a few feet. That's probably where the dents came from.

I'm guessing the inside of the car got wet, too, considering how leaking water from the hydrant probably fed along the hose.

WBZ quoted a friend of the car's owner who was not entirely sympathetic.  "He was mad....I wanted to cry for him. Of course, he brought that on himself," the friend said.

Yeah, I think everyone's sympathy lies much more with the three dozen or so people who lost their homes in the fire, rather than an obnoxious new BMW.

Neighbors said the owner drove the car away after the fire with the two broken windows and other damage.

As I noted, I probably won't cry myself to sleep tonight over the BMW owner's misfortune, if you can call it that. (He also got a $100 ticket for parking in front of the hydrant.)

On CBS, a commenter named IrishSailor quoted the "I wanted to cry for him quote with a dismissive snort:  friend. "Bull! If one of my friends was that stupid, I'd be laughing my arse off at him."

The Boston Globe started an editorial on the subject this way: "As if hoping to confirm every stereotype of boorish BMW owners, someone left her - or let's be realistic --his coupe parked in front of a fire hydrant in East Boston Wednesday night."

Someone commenting on the Globe editorial waxed poetic about the situation"

"It was only a misdemeanor
But they couldn't have been meaner
I needed the space
Who'd think of a blaze
They ruined my flipping Beemer"

Others offered opinions about BMW drivers in general: "The difference between a porcupine and a BMW? The porcupine has the pricks on the outside."

I noticed media outlets have not released the name of the BMW driver. I guess the public shaming would be too extreme if everybody knew who he was and how to find him.

I just hope he doesn't park in front of a hydrant again

Stevie Nicks, Jimmy Fallon Drag My Heart Around In A Good Way

One of my extreme favorite songs ever is the 1981 duet by Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks, "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around."  
Jimmy Fallon, dressed as Tom Petty, joins
Stevie Nicks in re-creating the "Stop Draggin' My
Heart Around" video. 

It's ominious and dark and dramatic and cynical, with it's minor chords and full throttle, echoing tone.  Every time it comes on the radio when I'm driving around, I blast the sound as high as it will go and sing along.

I like the complicated relationship the lyrics describe, a relationship that's not exactly love, but tired, world weary duty:

"People running 'round loose in the world
Ain't got nothin' better to do
Than make a meal of some bright eyed kid
You need someone looking after you."

The original music video for the awesome song is no great shakes. Just Petty and his band, the Heartbreakers, and Nicks in the studio singing.  But it's such a great song the video is fine.

This week, Jimmy Fallon, who often does this sort of thing, re-created that video by dressing up as Tom Petty and joining the real Stevie Nicks for another round of "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around"

And I do like the original video and version of the song better than Fallon/Nicks, this is still a treat.

Below, the first video you'll see is that Fallon/Nicks re-creation, followed by the original video. Whatever you think of this all, you know I'll be singing the song in my head all day.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

If You Steal A Laptop, Don't Call Customer Service For Help

Recently, Mike Witonis of New Hampshire was puzzled. He'd gotten an e-mail from Apple, thanking him for contacting customer service for a question about his laptop.
If you steal a MacBook like this from someone,
don't call Apple support to ask for help using it.  

Witonis hadn't called Apple customer service. But then he realized why Apple thanked him for his non-existent call.

Witonis had his laptop stolen from his home about a year earlier. He'd given up on it as lost forever.

But then he realized the thief must have called customer service. Apple still had Wintonis' e-mail associated with the laptop, so Apple sent the message to him.

According to WMUR-TV in Manchester, N.H. the whole thing led police to Casey Wentworth, 24, who is accused of burglary. Police said they are puzzled as to why Wentworth held on to the laptop for so long, then tried to call Apple to figure out how to unlock it, apparently so he could use it.

Moral of the story: Sometimes its good that companies keep some data on us, like our email addresses. And some criminals are too stupid to realize this.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

An Overturned Cement Truck is NOT What You Want To See Coming At Your Windshield

Dr. Guan Zhu a veterinary professor at Texas A&M, was driving around in his Toyota Sienna the other day in College Station, Texas with the dash cam running.
Not what you want to see through
your car windshield. 

He got to an intersection and Uh-oh. A cement truck ran a red light, overturned and came straight at him, says television station KBTX.

Had to have been awfully scary! Luckily his airbags deployed and he received just minor injuries.

Zhu said he doesn't really remember most of the details, other than the truck heading toward him.

So, we give you the CBS report, below, to show you the thing you probably would least like to see coming at you when you're out driving:

Don't Get Stung By A Bee On Your Nose, Upper Lip, Or, Um..Researcher Says

Now that the warm spring and summer are coming in, so are the insects. Stings are painful, especially when it involves a bee.  
Graduate student Michael Smith warns us
not to let this guy sting us on our nostrils.  

We have Cornell graduate student Michael Smith here for the rescue, to tell us which part of your body is the worst for a bee sting.

He subjected himself to bee stings five times a day for 38 days by holding a honeybee with forceps to every part of his body, according to National Geographic.

And I mean EVERY part.

Smith was testing to see which part of his body would feel the most pain from a bee sting.

(Note: The linked article to National Geographic is interesting and worth the click, but be aware you'll subject yourself to something as painful as the bee stings. Like many web sites, National Geographic has one of those autoplay ads that prattle on when you open the page

Apparently, advertisers think that really, REALLY annoying you will sell their products. End of whine.)

Back to the bee stings. It turns out the most painful place to get stung is on the nostril, followed by the upper lip. His penis came in third in the pain scale. For those of you wondering, getting stung in the scrotum or butt falls surprisingly low in the pain scale, but is still unpleasant, as you might imagine.

Smith published his findings in the journal PeerJ.

Why is getting stung in the nostril so painful?

According to Smith, in National Geographic:  "It's electric and pulsating..Especially the nose. Your whole body reacts. You're sneezing and wheezing and snot is just dribbling out. Getting stung in the nose is a whole body experience."

Gee, sounds really pleasant!

OK, now us guys are wondering (sort of) what it's like to get stung on the penis. Smith says:  "It's painful, and there's definitely no crossing of wires of pleasure and pain down there...But if you're stung in the nose and penis, you're going to want more stings to the penis over the nose, if you're forced to choose."

I choose neither.

Maybe I'll just buy extra bug spray this summer and hope for the best.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

L.A. Philharmonic Pretends Not To Notice Earthquake, Beautifully.

On March 28, a 5.1 earthquake struck the Los Angeles metro area, causing widespread minor damage.
Pianist Jean Yves Thibaudet is undeterred as
the Los Angeles Philharmonic plays flawlessly
through a recent earthquake. Photo by Michael
Robinson Chavez/Los Angeles Times.  

The earthquake was quite a jolt, even for jaded Angelos who are used to quakes.

When the quake hit, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by Charles Dutoit was performing Ravel's "Daphnis and Chloe" when the quake hit.

The Philharmonic released a video, an audio recording, really with graphics explaining what happened, as the quake hit.

You can hear the jolt, the rumbling, the alarm among the audience as the quake hit.

And, the band played on. They continued to sound great.

The concert venue was the Walt Disney Concert Hall, which was built only about a decade ago, adhering to construction standards what would make the building withstand earthquakes bigger than that 5.1 wobbler.

But still, it had to be scary for the audience, some of whom ran for the exits.

The audio/video is fascinating. Watch and/or listen:

Worst Possible New Vandalism Trend: Tipping Smart Cars

Back when I was a kid in Vermont, a rumored but never really proven vandalism past time was supposedly cow tipping. That meant going out into fields and knocking over unsuspecting cows who might or might not have been sleeping.
Possible dumb new trend: Tipping over
these little Smart Cars  

That could be rural legend, but now we have what might be the beginnings of a new "tipping" vandalism trend that is real: Smart Car tipping.

There were four instances of Smart Cars being tipped over in San Francisco recently, according to the Huffington Post.

It's unclear if these were random acts of vandalism or a reaction among locals with modest incomes revolting against all the rich techies moving to town and maybe driving up rents.

But knowing how the Internet and YouTube works, I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot of Smart Car tippings. The cars are very fuel efficient, but also tiny and lightweight, and no doubt easy to tip over.

So a few obnoxious, drunk teens will be doing this type of thing until the fad runs its course in a few months.

Hey, how about tipping your waiters and waitresses instead?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Awesome Ant Photos That Are Completely Unappetizing, But Fascinating

Photographer Paul Quagliana has released some really awesome closeup photos he took of woodland ants squirting acid all over the place.
One of Pau Qualiana''s photos of ants spraying
acid to ward off predators 

It's less dire than it sounds. The ants don't spray acid at people to kill them. Instead, they squirt the foul smelling acid to ward of predators. 

According to The Daily Mail, Quagliana said:

"It doesn't hurt but it stinks and I imagine if it was to get in your eyes it would probably sting."

In order the capture the action, he set up his camera on a tripod, ensuring the sun was behind the ants, which had built a nest on a lot. "I then tapped the log and lifted my hand up and starting photographs," he said.     
Another of Quagliana's ant photos  

"I didn't see it when they were squirting the acid, but when I looked back at the images, the sun had captured the droplets."

The photos look like the climatic battle scene in some epic action/adventure movie.

Amazing what goes on in places we don't normally notice.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

My Search For The Rare Great TV Ad Reveals A Few Finds

With my well documented hatred of most advertising because it's stupid, here's another effort at positive reinforcement, which I do from time to time, to tell advertisers how it's done.
A screen shot from an excellent Bell's Whiskey
ad in South Africa  

I still have not found the logic behind most television ads, which operate on the premise that if you irritate the viewer, they will buy your product.

Maybe I'm just weird because I'm the opposite. A well-done, engaging ad might encourage me to buy, otherwise, not so much.

So, in the interest of being helpful to the ad agencies, here's a few good ones, most of them found in an occasion series of articles about advertising at

First, we have this heartwarming one from Bell's Whiskey in South Africa, called "The Reader.":

Here's a great newer ad for the new citizenM Hotel in Times Square (yes, it's lower case "c" on "citizen" just to be different.

Like the ad. It's a great stop-motion feature with two towel swans. It plays up the cliches of luxury, romantic hotels. And it's a got a great punch line:

And here's a four year old commercial for Volkswagon, that reminds me of the song "Little Old Lady From Pasadena." It's pretty funny, and the song playing in the background makes it that much tackier, which I love:

Next we have this clever Russian ad from a few years back about a guy searching for an insurance company, and finding customer service at one company to be a bit lacking:

Often, public service annoucements are the best ads. This is no exception. It's from Reporters Without Borders. an organization that advocates for full, unfettered press freedom worldwide. They get their message across wonderfully with this ad. The music in the background makes the video even more perfect: