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Of tobacco and badgers

For the last 15 years or so, we’ve been rolling our own cigarettes here in the Ratlands, “rolling” being a relative term, since we use a machine that shoves the tobacco into pre-made cigarette tubes, rather than actually twisting one up. When I was younger, I used to sit in the basement at my desk and crank out a couple of packs late at night when everything was quiet. It was, in some sense, a kind of twisted zen meditation; instead of counting breaths, I counted the number of taps it took to shake the tobacco all the way down the tube to the filter. I experimented a bit and eventually settled on 20 taps as sufficient to accomplish the job without too much overkill on the ones that loaded better than the others. (The tapping ritual is necessary, as the tobacco doesn’t always get shoved all the way in, leaving a void between the filter and the tobacco, which is weaker that the filled section and the filter, making it susceptible to breaking and makes the cigarette difficult to put out efficiently).

I guess I’ve gotten mentally lazy or maybe it’s that I don’t meditate any more, but I find I much prefer a bit of entertainment while cranking out the smokes these days. Usually, I watch soccer. Lately I’ve been watching “Cowboy Bebop”. Occasionally I’ll put on one of the music channels.  Last night, for lack of a better option, I watched part of the Super Bowl.

Some of you are aware that I don’t watch American Football.  I know that’s un-patriotic, un-American, and casts certain aspersions on my character, but I gave up on it several years ago.  Don’t get me wrong, the game is fine.  I think it was Woody Hayes who thought football should be 3 yards and a cloud of dust.  Well, I gave up on it because, to twist the metaphor, it was 3 plays and a cloud of commercials.  I much prefer games like soccer and rugby.  Aside from the less choreographed nature of those games, I like the fact that in soccer, for instance, you have your cloud of commercials, then they play 45 or so minutes uninterrupted, you get another cloud of commercials, they play another 45 or so minutes and you’re done.  The whole thing is guaranteed to take less than 2 hours (unless it is a tournament game of some sort that can’t end in a tie).

During the Super Bowl last night, I thought maybe I had been a bit harsh in the way I remembered the televised games.  The first quarter was quick, with few commercials (which in retrospect was due to each team having one sustained drive).  By the second quarter, things had settled back into the rhythm I remembered.  As charming as Super Bowl commercials can be, they are still commercials, they still interrupt the flow of the game.

I didn’t watch the 4th quarter.  I hear the Giants won.  That didn’t surprise me.  Keeping in mind that I don’t know anything about the principals involved, I thought the Patriots were going to lose as early as the 1st quarter.  It looked to me like Brady thought their victory was a done deal.  Looking at his eyes it seemed to me that he was just sort of phoning it in.

As for the commercials, I liked the lizards dancing, the Alice Cooper and Richard Simmons thing, and the breathing fire commercial.  My favorite was the sleeping badger in the car.

From a marketing standpoint, the commercial that wasn’t may have been the best of the lot.  I don’t know how many people were actually enticed to go to the GoDaddy website to see the Danica Patrick commercial.  The commercial itself was clever in a Jr. High sort of way, but as Elmo McElroy says in Formula 51, “you  gotta give big props to marketing”.  For anyone who went to the site, there was the commercial surrounded by more information about web site hosting than they could possibly have crammed into a TV spot.  So, whether Fox actually rejected the commercial, or whether that was just part of the gimmick, the whole thing was, in my opinion, well done.

On a side note, I can see “where’s the Beaver?” entering the same pantheon of sub-culture references as “all your base are belong to us,” and “more cowbell.”

Update:  Apparently the rejection was real.  Bob Parsons talks about the strategy and the results (4 times the web traffic they got last year from one spot instead of the 3 they ran last year).

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