Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Remember the Slowskys?

The other day I was talking to a friend about using animals to make funny ads, and I mentioned how much I loved "The Slowskys" campaign for Comcast from a few years ago. I was shocked to find out that she hadn't seen the commercials, and I figured that this was preposterous and necessitated an immediate remedy.

For those also unfamiliar, the commercials featured Bill and Karolyn, a married turtle couple, more fondly known as The Slowskys. The turtles liked things just so, at their own, slow pace. They found the high-speed of Comcast internet overwhelming and instead opted for a more comfortable alternative for them, in the form of slower DSL service.

My favorite thing about the commercials were the subtleties. One of my favorite lines was when Karolyn piped up that they "felt rushed" by Comcast's high speed. Another commercial has a strategically placed coffee mug that says "Decaf for life." These fine details really add up to the atmosphere and overall humor of the spots.

Here are a few of my favorites. Enjoy:

A good introduction to the Slowsky family...

"I didn't know you could read!"
"There's a lot of things you don't know about me."
(Great banter between Bill and Karolyn)...

Love Karolyn's sass when she quips about Bill's middle name:

All these and more are the great work of Goodby Silverstein & Partners out west in SF.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

IHOP Update

So today I made it to the local IHOP and tried half of the Horton Hears a Who promotional menu. I tried both the Beezlenut Splash beverage and Who-Cakes. The Beezlenut Splash arrived first and was about what I expected; it tasted like Sprite with slurpable Jello chunks inside.

Upon delivery, the waiter mentioned that he had never seen an adult try either item. I must say the lack of adventurousness in the Austin IHOP-eating community is pretty disappointing. Despite this warning, I was not to be deterred on my mission. He frequently checked up on us to see that things were going OK and to see what I thought of my drink (and of course later, the Who-Cakes).

Then the Who-Cakes arrived. They were a complete sugar overload, and it made me glad that at the last second I decided to add a starchy side of hashbrowns to my order. I was warned multiple times, but of course, I had to try for myself. I'd have to say they are a lot prettier than they are tasty.

The combination of syrups was a bit much, but inside the pancakes in the stacks hadn't absorbed nearly the same amount of syrup, which made them taste a lot better. I would have to say that the least appetizing part of the Who-Cakes were the multi-colored chocolate pieces sprinkled on top. Once I made this realization and scraped them to the side, my meal was a lot more enjoyable. I felt sorta bad about this though because the waiter made sure that they gave me extra chocolate on top in order to make it prettier:

As lame as I could possibly be, I didn't end up finishing the Who-Cakes. I ate about 2/3 of them though, which was easier after discovering the food's improvement upon removing the chocolate. It was nice to enjoy the lollipop at the end too. I did order a refill on the Beezlenut Splash though.

If you want to try the Horton menu, you better hurry! The promotion ends tomorrow, April 20th!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Q: What do Dodgeball and Planters have in common?

A: One terrifying, icky, unibrowed female.

Left: "Fran" of the Purple Cobras in Dodgeball
Right: The new "starlet" in Planters Peanuts commercials

Four years late on the craze, last night I finally watched that movie Dodgeball. Though the movie was about as entertaining as I anticipated, the plot wasn't much like I expected. I just figured Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller were professional dodgeballers in some sort of dodgeball league. I had no idea that the premise was Vaughn's character playing dodgeball in order to use the prize money in order to save his bankrupting gym. (Which now that I think about it, isn't this the same as Happy Gilmore, where Adam Sandler's character takes up golf in order to win enough money to save his grandma's house from foreclosure?)

Regardless, Vaughn plays dodgeball for a team called Average Joe's (also the name of his gym) and Ben Stiller heads the rival gym's team, the Purple Cobras. The Purple Cobras are saturated with testosterone-injected males and one exceedingly frightening and masculine-looking female named Fran.

I couldn't help but notice that this scary woman looked surprisingly familiar. Finally I figured out the resemblance. She looks just like the gross creature that is presented on the new Planters Peanuts commercials. Originally aired during the Super Bowl, this commercial also utilizes a gross, irksome unibrowed woman.

If you want to throw up in your mouth a little, check the Planters girl out here:

Decent commercial, but EWWW.

So question of the hour... was the Planters commercial inspired by Dodgeball or is it merely a revolting coincidence?

Friday, April 11, 2008

UPS Whiteboard - What happened to you?

I was a huge fan of the UPS Whiteboard commercials when they came on the scene. They showed an "actor" (actually a Creative Director at The Martin Agency in Richmond) drawing fascinating little doodles on a dry-erase board that could somehow be partially erased or slightly manipulated in order to explain a B2B shipping task, like routing or freight.

These ads were so simple and yet so attention-grabbing. Maybe it was the quirky, long-haired artist, or the irony of using a song by The Postal Service to sell UPS shipping, but I found these ads catchy and couldn't watch them enough. Here's an example:

Unfortunately, at some point during March Madness, I saw that these Whiteboard commercials had adopted a new look. Before, all of the UPS capabilities were demonstrated in 2-D on a dry-erase board. Now, these ads use some sort of animated component in order to demonstrate the same messages as the older commercials, but in a slightly more complicated way. I'm curious to find what others think of about the renovated strategy. Here's one of the newer ads:

I wasn't even sick of the old ads yet, but I feel like The Martin Agency should have opted to execute more of the traditional-style ads but with different graphics and "lessons." If it were my decision, I would have opted for a new soundtrack... perhaps a different tune by The Postal Service, or even a new band all together that shares a similarly interesting yet soothing electronic quality.

Maybe UPS advocated for the new approach as opposed to vice versa. Either way, whenever I see one of the new commercials I am saddened that it isn't one of old.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Best Free Show Everyone Missed

Last night I had a chance to see The Roots play at the UT campus for 40 Acres Fest. I had my doubts about giving up a night of Final Four action, but free live music five blocks from my apartment will certainly get my attention.

Despite conflicting with one of America's favorite sporting events, thousands showed up to see the show. The spectators were treated to The Roots' own brand of experimental hip hop. They played a great set and even integrated beats from "This is Why I'm Hot," "Sexyback," and "Jungle Boogie." I loved whenever the entire band would dance together in a choreographed routine, but the highlight for me was the endless energy of the tuba player. Despite lugging around this enormous instrument for the duration of the show, he always radiated his enthusiasm in his dancing while he played. The Roots definitely put on a memorable show.

Picture source:

In hoops action, Memphis defeated UCLA by 15 and Kansas beat UNC by 18. It has been a fitting Final Four to end what has easily been my worst bracket-picking job of all time. Like everyone else, I doubted Memphis, and was once again proven wrong. Though after seeing the Tigers manhandle the Longhorns last week, I can't say that the outcome of the Memphis-UCLA game was a huge surprise. As for Kansas, I'm still upset about Davidson losing to them by 2 in the Elite 8. Does this mean Davidson would have beat Carolina by 19 if they made that 3-pointer at the buzzer? Could you imagine, with all the UNC fans cheering so fervently for Davidson in the opening rounds?

I guess this means my personal "Kansas rule" will have to be revoked for March Madness Bracket '09 and beyond. For those of you who don't know, after several years of Kansas choking in the tournament and screwing up my bracket, I decided to institute a "Kansas rule" where I didn't allow the team to proceed beyond the Sweet 16 in making my selections. After two or three years of this working beautifully, the Kansas rule (as well as all of my personal bracket-picking rules this year) has blown up in my face. Which means next year I'll put them in the Final Four, and an unknown team like Bradley will knock them out in the first round again, devastating my bracket and leaving me cursing.

Revised final prediction: Memphis beats Kansas 78-66 in the final. Take that with a grain of salt.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Crazy Candy IHOP Pancakes

So the other night I went out to dinner at IHOP, where I was greeted by a colorful, eye-catching sign advertising IHOP's new promotional menu to celebrate the Dr. Seuss movie, Horton Hears a Who. These types of signs generally don't get my attention, but I was immediately struck by the fact that IHOP was offering pancakes that looked like candy. Here's a quick view of what I mean:

When I got to my table to scan the menu for strawberry waffles and hashbrowns I came across a laminated insert where I saw these candy-looking pancakes again. They were baffling. Who would order these? What on earth would candy pancakes taste like? I couldn't believe they put a lollipop through the pancakes stack! I was intrigued.

I browsed the menu and found out these so-called "Who-Cakes" are actually are made of astonishingly normal ingredients, despite their appearance. It was just a stack of four pancakes, covered with boysenberry and blueberry syrups and covered with rainbow chocolate chips. Granted the lollipop toothpick was a little bizarre, but who doesn't enjoy a piece of candy or a mint to tie up a meal?

The menu also featured a famous Dr. Seuss favorite, Green Eggs and Ham. If these weren't enough, they also had a special drink concoction you could order in order to wash it all down with: Beezlenut Splash. The Beezlenut Splash was simply lemon-lime soda (I assume Sprite) with red and blue Jello cubes interspersed throughout. Crazy! The drink was only $2 and you could get all-you-can-drink refills.

Needless to say, as a child trapped in a twenty-something's body, I am completely psyched about this whole Horton promotion. I am in the process of recruiting people for an IHOP and movie doubleheader. The movie features Jim Carrey, Steve Carell (of my beloved The Office), Will Arnett (from Arrested Development), and his wife, Amy Poehler (of SNL). Pretty awesome cast, though I'd be lying if I said I wasn't more excited about the prospect of partaking in these Who-Cakes.

In other news, The Office returns in a mere week! Jim Halpert, how my weeks have longed for your return...

Pictures source: IHOP website,

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sayonara R-Braves, you will be missed

While I've known for awhile that they were going, talking to my Dad about the impending departure of the Richmond Braves today made it more real. The Richmond Braves, the Atlanta Braves' AAA affiliate, are packing and moving to suburban Atlanta for the 2009 season. Unable to negotiate the building of a new stadium with Richmond mayor Doug Wilder and the city government, the Braves have elected to take their business elsewhere.

I grew up in the greater Richmond area, and it was always a delight to take in an R-Braves game on a lazy summer night. I loved going to see the next talent, the great players and heroes of tomorrow. You could always get amazing seats too, for very reasonable (under $10) prices.

Over the years I got to see Chipper Jones, Javy Lopez, Ryan Langerhans and more at the beloved Richmond ballpark. They all must have still been kids when they played. I distinctly remember Dad saying back when I was in middle school or so, "There's this kid, 18 or 19 years old, who is tearing up the minor leagues. He's going to be playing in Richmond, but only for a week or two. I want to see him before he makes it to Atlanta." He was talking about Andruw Jones.

Thanks to my Dad's insight, I was one of only a few thousand to ever see Andruw ever suit up in an R-Braves uniform. We caught one of his scant few games in Richmond. He hit one out of the park, and sure enough, only had one more game or two with the R-Braves before getting the call up to Atlanta.

I had some wonderful times in that stadium. It's a shame that the next generation of Richmonders won't have the same memories.

Goodbye Richmond Braves. You will be sorely missed. I just hope I get to see one more game before you embark.

Picture Source: