Channel Flip.

I’ve had it up to here with commercialism. If you could see my hand, you would notice that it is hovering above my eyebrows, which though quite blond, are in dire need of a trim.

But I digress.

It seems like commercialism has taken over the world. Advertisements. Banner ads. Billboards. Billboards that change their “look” every thirty seconds. Crawling letters. Transparent boxes in the corner of the television screen. Sponsorship thank yous on public radio. Sponsorship pleas from a weird woman named Goldie on public television. It goes on and on.

I know, I know, it’s the American way. Good old American commerce and all that happy horse doo doo. But my goodness, when do we reach the point of commercial overload?

It’s ironic that I don’t like commercials, since radio commercial revenue pays my salary. In fact, during my illustrious radio career I have been a “copy writer” and a “production director”, both jobs being directly responsible for what I now despise.

Growing up, I admit that there were some commercials I absolutely loved. “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature”, then she gives a lightning bolt to some poor soul who gave Bea Arthur’s sister on the Golden Girls margarine instead of butter. She was pretty cool.

“Honeycomb’s big, yeah yeah yeah, it’s not small, no no no”

“My husband, some hot shot, here’s his ancient Chinese secret, Calgon!” Now the oriental woman in those commercials absolutely rocked. In fact, don’t be surprised if you see me in pigtails and a kimono hovering over a GE washer with a box of Calgon for Halloween this year. “We need more Calgon!”

I think commercials started getting on my nerves when I was in my teens, in the early 80s. I’d be hanging out with my neighborhood friends on the back porch of his house, television blaring in the background as the summer sweltered, we shot the shit and roasted marshmallows and made fun of the girl across the street named Freida Look. There’d always be a lull in the conversation, just in time for the television to blare a serious, orchestral crescendo followed by a young girl saying “Mother, how do you stay feeling fresh all day..” The mother looked perplexed, the girl looked forlorn, my friends looked pained and I was headed to the wood pile to puke. I don’t know what Freida Look was doing. Maybe she just looked.

Alright. That was absolutely unnecessary. First of all, how degrading to women of the world. Are we really suppose to believe that a woman in her 20s is going to ask her mother, who’s wielding a meat cleaver in the kitchen no less, about personal issues in the nether regions? Come on. I’m pretty sure that mothers and daughters don’t talk to each like that. Guys certainly don’t. “Dad, the toilet paper Mom bought leaves me feeling dirty. What do you do?” Yeah, right.

Then of course we moved into ridiculous with “Where’s The Beef” and all that crap. I’m not even going to go there, except that the wonderful elderly lady screaming “Where’s the Beef” should have been paid more Social Security and less royalties to be left off the television.

Fast forward to present day. Now we have commercials for medication. Like that commercial for some anti-depressant. First of all, the sad face on the little bubble that bounces along about makes me cry. I know, it’s suppose to, so I can go run out and get myself some happy pills. But does the bubble have to be so depressed? Never mind that you’re just having a bad day or that you could take a moment to take a deep breath and ask yourself if your latest tragedy is really worth it. No, no, no. Run to the doctor to get a prescription for a pill that’ll fix all your moods. Take enough pills and you’ll be “Super Zombie”!

Then we have the viagra boy. “Did you lose weight, Bill?” “Did you shave off your mustache, Bill?” “Why are you so happy, Bill?” They never come out and say why Bill is so happy, but he’s grinning like a fool the entire day. Why doesn’t he just stand up in the middle of the office and loudly proclaim “Hey! I banged my mistress during my lunch break while my wife watched and I was able to do it because I was chemically motivated!” Clue phone for Bill, if you stopped watching television for viagra commercials and paid more attention to your wife (and maybe concentrated REALLY hard at the right moment), you wouldn’t need viagra. And I really couldn’t care less if Bill lost weight, shaved his mustache or banged his mistress. Keep your chemically motivated sex drive in your seedy motel room and out of my living room, thank you very much.

And I can’t go on without mentioning those fat whacker pills or whatever they are. I suspect that they are related to that awful invention of “Olestra” which invaded my Pringles a number of years ago. I will never forget the moment I slammed the car in park on the side of the Thruway and took a dump along the fence, in the city of Albany no less, because I ate two Pringles with “Olestra” in them not two minutes before stopping. That’s what those fat whacker pills do. “May cause explosive bowels, intestinal cramping and uncomfortable gas.” And they recommend you take one before the company picnic or office party! My God. Talk about being the life of the party. Boring conversation? Pop a crab cake or whatever, do a 180 and blow away the person you’re talking to. I tried burning the rest of the Pringles, but they wouldn’t burn.

Earl and I were at the movies last weekend. Of course we have the revolving slide show before the commercials before the preview. The slide show doesn’t seem to be selling well in this area because there were only three rotating. One of them was for an new Open MRI service. “Schedule your Open MRI today”. Like the nerd who is waiting to see Tomb Raider II is going to say, “My God, I’ve never had an MRI, let alone an Open MRI. Forget the movie, I’ve got to leave and schedule one RIGHT NOW.” And God forbid you’re told you need an MRI. “I’m sorry Bruce, but we think you have an extra toe growing in your brain and we need to do an MRI.” Do we really think Bruce is going to say, “You know, before Connie and Carla I saw this ad at Hoyt’s Theatre for the Open MRI…” or “I don’t want to know about the toe in my brain unless its checked out with an OPEN MRI.” Yeah, right.

Then there’s the local restaurant in the three rotating ads which has a picture of a “delicious” entree of macaroni and cheese, french fries and a fishburger on a folding table with folding chairs, which are surrounded by a group of elderly patrons, two of which look like they’re in an unfortuate accident with their walkers. I haven’t figured out if one of them is the server yet, but perhaps the answer will come to me the next time we are at the movies.

The third ad is for Adelphia High Speed Internet. The graphic is a road sign over a highway that says “Adelphia Powerlink” with an arrow pointing down over the highway. I couldn’t agree more. Adelphia Powerlink is always down. Great visual there. Enough said.

You can’t go anywhere without someone hocking their wares. We drove into Connecticut a couple of weeks ago. We crossed the N.Y.-Conn. line and my cell phone rang. A cheery voice said “Welcome to Connecticut, press 827364910283 for the department of tourism. En Espanol, marque tres.” I really didn’t need that.

I was happily watching Green Acres on TV Land. All of a sudden, Eva Gabor’s face shrunk up to the corner of the screen so that a little dancing set of letters could appear on the bottom letting me know ElectraWoman and DynaGirl were on at 1:30 a.m. Match Game PM constantly has a “GSN” hoo-dickey hanging over Brett Somers face. Judging Amy has a CBS eye over Tyne Daly’s bosom.

Even the waitress at a restaurant we were at was pre-selling food! “What would you like for an appetizer?” And then in the same breath, “Be sure to save room for the delicious blueberry pie we have today!” Pie! I was still working out the blooming onion, iced tea, bread and butter, soup, crackers, salad and entree! Who’s got time to think of pie then?

Small wonder I want to move to the middle of the desert and shut out the world. My luck I’ll end up next to a billboard for Pringles.

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