A terrible thing that happened when I tried to write the blog today

A clever adult wins an otherwise difficult two-on-one battle by inducing nausea.

The original title of today’s blog post was “Winning the fight against children”—which made the photo caption a lot funnier—and I was having a lot of fun writing it until about 30 seconds ago. It all started when I saw this article in the Huffington Post, about a restaurant in Pennsylvania that has banned children under age 6. I love that kind of thing, as you know, and it happened to dovetail nicely with an article about US marriage and childrearing trends I found while reading the footnotes to The Marriage Vow yesterday. So I wrote this fun intro paragraph:

Despite powerful influence from the likes of Bob Vander Plaats and Bil Keane, American society is gradually reducing the number of children in our midst. Okay, the actual number of children nears an all-time high and grows larger every year, but that’s because there’s also so many of us. By some stroke of luck, long-term growth in the number of adults has kept pace with the growth of children—even exceeded it in some cases, I think, although I’m having trouble finding statistics. So although kids clog our streets and animal-themed pizza arcades, the percentage of children in society has stayed low. According to CBS News, the proportion of American households occupied by married couples with children has dropped to 25%, a development they felt merited the rarely-seen six-deck headline.

Then I wrote this next one:

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“I have everything except a death certificate”

Rioters protest debt-induced austerity measures in Greece.

It’s a new year, and that means we’re incrementally closer to a terrifying future only imaginable to our grandchildren, whose brains will have much more highly-evolved nightmare centers. Or not—it depends on how the economy shakes out. In Europe, where the economy has been shaking out into a fine dust since the Marshall Plan, things are not looking so good. A few weeks ago, we discussed student riots in Britain over proposed hikes in university tuition. Yesterday, the New York Times ran this story containing the quote in our headline, in which Italy’s Francesca Esposito—who totally knows where to get ecstasy, by the way, but does not want to meet you at your hostel—laments her position as a 29 year-old penta-ligual with master’s and law degrees who can’t find a paying job. Instead, she works as an unpaid “legal trainee” for the Italian government—in their social security administration, no less. Like a lot of young people in southern Europe, Esposito gets paid in irony, and she’s pissed.

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Advertisers create new, empty word: love

This jar of marmite yeast extract spread loves you. It also points out that part of being in love is expressing it physically...

We here at Combat! blog have criticized the trend reporting at the New York Times in the past, but all is forgiven with today’s fascinating piece about marketers’ rampant use of the word “love.” Okay, not all is forgiven—we’re still pissed about their expose on the horrors of the Park Slope Food co-op—but at least this one has some verifiable information. It turns out that the Times is at its best when it’s writing about advertising, and advertising is at its best when it’s convincing you that the most profound human emotional experience can be replicated by using a Blackberry.  Car manufacturers seem to be the biggest purveyors of sweet nothings, here, with Honda, Subaru and Nissan all launching love-oriented ad campaigns in the last two years. The notion of people loving their cars is nothing new. Your car represents freedom, self-sufficiency, responsibility and socio-economic status, as anyone without a car will tell you. Anyone without a girlfriend will make a similar argument, so the connection between cars and love seems obvious—especially if you are dead inside. Consider the rationale offered by Michael Kuremsky, Vice President and Global Brand Franchise Leader at Olay: “We view Olay as a partner alongside women, so the emotional connection is Olay validating to a woman that we want to help her achieve her best skin, to get to a place where she loves her skin.” Tonight, darling, I will take you on a carriage ride around Central Park and validate that I want to partner alongside you in achieving your best handjob, ever.

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Compare and contrast: Two more Life commercials


I promise I’m not going to spend the whole week on this. This morning, though, I woke up with a commercial jingle from 1988 stuck in my head, and only YouTube could exorcise it.* During my exhaustive two-minute search, I found the video above. It’s from 1981, at the beginning of the Reagan years, when America was still reeling from the economic malaise of the late seventies. And I daresay it reflects that.

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