Five-link Friday: James Dean’s death
Taking a breather from (but keep sending them in! More on Monday!) to offer up another five-link Friday, five random pop-culture links that entertained me recently. Remember, in addition to TV-commercial commentary, you're always welcome to send in Friday links.
• On my recent vacation, we suddenly realized we were in Cholame, California, quite close to the intersection where James Dean was killed. It still feels like a dangerous place to me, as we had to brake suddenly to allow a trailer filled with new cars to roar past us. provides plenty of information about Dean's untimely death, including photos taken at the same time of year and day that Dean's accident occurred. (Thanks to Scott for the link!)
• Warning: Possible spoiler for "Lost" if you click through. Thanks to reader Edward for sending this in. It's presented as an from the show's season finale, but to my eyes, it seemed to have been written as a red herring all along. (To enlarge the page to make it readable, click on the magnifying square in the lower right corner.) If you're like me, you're going to need a definition and picture for one of the words used, so .
• My first childhood TV crush was on Johnny Gage, the paramedic so handsomely portrayed by Randolph Mantooth on "Emergency!" So I was happy to learn that the series . TV Shows on DVD.com offers a . Who can forget the episode where Gage and DeSoto had to respond to a woman in her bathtub who had her toe stuck in the faucet? That convinced me to keep my feet away from all faucets for the rest of my life.
• The words "Kitten War" brings to mind batallions of little fuzzy kittens in army green, armed with catnip mice instead of guns. But really, lets owners submit photos of their furry friends and asks viewers to vote on which kitten is cuter. Think "Am I Hot or Not" for cats. Let the war begin! (Thanks to Paige and Clay for the link!)
• How would you (or friends) ? Don't forget the winter hat! Here's that seems to be the same as the first. (Thanks to Rob for the link!)
The Baby Bob debate
Ladies and gentlemen, we have found our new Spongemonkeys. You remember the Spongemonkeys, don't you? The weird singing ... things ... in the Quizno's commercials. We , and readers were split on whether they were cool and funny or creepy and disgusting.
This year, we've already found the commercial that divides readers. And just like the Spongemonkeys, the series of ads is for Quizno's. The divisive commercials are those featuring Baby Bob, who would normally be a cute, sunny infant, except he has a gravelly adult voice and a Clutch Cargo-esque computer-generated mouth.
You can watch , should you not get enough of them in constant rotation on your telly. And here's about Baby Bob, including the fact that the current he is really a she, who gets paid $585 a sitting.
A digression: I know some readers will write in and claim that, because we remember what the product is, that the ad has done its job. Well, I get dozens of Spam e-mails each day for Viagra and Cialis — usually spelled \/1@gr@! and C1Al1S!. Those are memorable too, but it sure doesn't mean I'm about to become a regular customer.
I'm personally kind of neutral on Bob. The voice (apparently it's actor ) bugs me, but overall, I can take or leave the ads. Many, many, many readers disagree. Here's a sampling of comments from those who love Bob and those who can't stand the kid. And keep sending in your thoughts on any and all commercials, not just Bob.
HATE BOB“I cannot stand the Quizno’s commercials with the talking baby. There is something about a talking baby with a deep man’s voice that is just so disturbing. He can’t even eat the sandwich unless his mother smashes it up into a pudding, so why is he talking about it? It is just weird.” —Alison
“Worst commercial ever: Very Creepy Artificially Articulate Baby Bob from Quizno’s Commercial. Seeing infant’s head on an older child’s body is freaky in itself, but to use computer effects to make his mouth move in unnatural ways...that’s taking in it to a whole new level. It’s unsettling and brings back memories of Linda Blair in ‘Exorcist.’ “ —Elena
“Don’t really have a favorite right now, but the one that COMPLETELY freaks me out is the Quizno’s baby! He sits in a director’s chair & they superimpose talking lips over his mouth. He’s like a real-life Chucky doll; & he ogles women and just looks horrible & has a creepy voice.” —Kimberly
“Can I vote for the Quizno’s baby being the most annoying baby on TV (and the worst ad campaign of the year)? I know the Quizno’s “thing” was mentioned last year, but since it’s a new ad campaign, they should be nominated again. That baby drooling over a woman is just plain dumb! The commercials aren’t even that well done. You can see the talking mouth spliced into the baby’s face.” —Paula
“I don’t know why it appeals to me, but the Quizno’s ad with Baby Bob lamenting the fact that his mother dines on a tasty turkey sandwich while he only gets strained peas slays me. I think it’s the delivery of the whole ad, but especially the last line - “I love the old gal, but that’s just wrong.” It gets me every time.” —Angelo
“I never tire of seeing the Quiznos Sandwich commercials (talking baby boy Bob). They are just so cute...they always make me smile!” —Donna
“The commercial that I love is the new Quizno’s baby advertising the new sandwich every time I see and hear him I laugh so hard I wonder if that’s what all babies are really saying.... and I think that the person who thought this string of ads up is just either really good at marketing or just way too much time on their hands. Just love the commercial great job keep them coming.” —Debbie
“Best commercials — Bob the Quizno kid. It cracks me up to see this little guy named Bob, with the grown up Bob voice carrying on about how he gets strained peas when his Mom gets Quizno’s subs: ‘I love the gal but that ain’t right.’ The new one where he’s sitting on the park bench and this time it’s his father having a sub. At the end he reveals how he plans to scoop the sub when he’s not looking. He claps his hands and smirks ‘Sayonara!’ There’s just something charming, weird and wonderful about this kid.” —Dee
Love the marauders, hate the apple-crumbcake lady
Your nominations for best and worst commercials have been pouring in, and you’re reminding me of many of the commercials I didn’t mention in my introductory column.
One of the early favorites: The Capital One commercials showing a bunch of Viking-like guys (they’re called “huns” in at least one ad) being forced to find new employment as flight attendants, hot-dog salesmen, and other jobs.
Keep sending in your nominees, and remember, thorough (and entertaining) descriptions are the most helpful. Should you find an online link to your nominee, send it along, though those are few and far between. Makes you wonder why more companies don’t offer online links to their ads.
Here are four good-ad nominees and four bad-ad nominees. Look for more tomorrow!
SAVAGE HUMOR“Nomination for best commercial. The recent Capital One Card commercial depicting the savages — previously seen running full steam ahead until the Capital One card is taken out of one's wallet — falling on hard times "since everyone's got" the Capital One card. Now, they are employed as a hot dog vendor, airline steward (complete with weaponry) and, as "Ivan the Great took it the hardest", kiddie train-ride operator. I enjoy the new version of what was starting to be a tired formula. That and the closer line of "What are you looking at?" just makes me laugh every time. Classic commercial, indeed!” --Hilary
ANOTHER VOTE FOR CAPITOL ONE“Commercial I love: Capital One's Berserkers having to find new jobs. These guys are great. Every time I see the one guy working as a flight attendant pushing the drink cart down the aisle, oblivious to the fact that his mace is whacking the aisle passengers in the head, I crack up.” --Susan
“My favorite commercial at the moment is the milk ad featuring men scrambling to hoard as much milk as they can. I love it because you sit through the entire commercial wondering why they are doing this and at the end the words "milk significantly reduces the symptoms of PMS." --K
KUDOS FOR ELLEN
“The best commercial is Ellen Degeneres, (I think it is the American Express Card) where everytime she hears music she starts dancing, either in an elevator, waiting in line, or walking down the street. We all die laughing everytime she is walking down the sideway dancing to "Pimp" music and then she hears a ice cream truck and starts hopping like a little kid. That "kills" my whole family. What a great commercial! We all laugh and it puts us in a good mood everytime we see it! I would love to have a copy of it for my PC. I'd start my day watching it. Now that's a great commercial.” --Diane
“I'm pretty sure I'm going to hell, because I always laugh inappriopriately at the OnStar disembodied voice ads — particularly the one where the little boy with an accent rivaling that of the classic Shake'n'Bake girl says "Hayyyy-ellllpp, mah mamma's seeeeeeeeeeeck." And then he adds, "Aaaahhhhhh'm faaaahhhhhve," to which the OnStar operator says that "emergency personnel is on the way." Like a 5-year-old will know what that means!! I can't even explain why they make me laugh, but they do.” --Heather
CAN YOU HEAR US NOW?“Enjoyed your take on best and worst commercials. Considering most ads idiotic at best, my top nominee goes to Verizon for using a Maytag lookalike to wander around endlessly saying "Can you hear me now? Good." When he bumped into a female counterpart I had serious thoughts of moving to Canada should these two somehow end up breeding.” --Anonymous
GRIN AND BEAR IT“The worst commercial is the animated bears dancing and buffing (wiping) their rear ends with Charmin tissue to the sickly sweet jingle "Less is more". Since the commercial begins with the bears squatting behind trees, your immediate mental image is a four letter word.” --V
CRUMMY CRUMB CAKE“The America On Line (AOL) commercial advertising AOL's committment against viruses. This one features an idiotic female with a speech impediment thinking her (famous) apple-crumb cake will stop her from getting infections. She also thinks all of AOL's efforts are just for her. I hope she and her idiotic ilk get every virus known to man! She deserves it! This same ad also features a creature created by AOL's advertising dept. that "smells cake" in a fashion that we are supposed to perceive as normal & "cute!"” --Glenn
Best and worst commercials
I'm just back from 10 days of travel, and am living the cliche that one really needs a vacation to recover from a vacation. (Travel lesson of the day: If you are at O'Hare Airport more than an hour before your flight, but spend 30+ minutes standing in a Sears Tower-sized line to check your luggage, you will be considered too late to fly and put on standby on two severely overbooked flights. Yeah.)
But I'm safely home now, and raring to restart last summer's take on the best and worst TV commercials.
Here's how we do it: You watch TV. You form opinions on the commercials you see, and send me descriptions of the best and worst commercials you've seen. Please give me a fairly good description for those who haven't seen the ad you're talking about, and if it's online, give us a link. While you can send in as many nominees as you want, I know in advance I won't be able to publish everyone's nominees. I'll keep some sort of running total on which commercials top both the best and worst list, and will add in a vote once we see who the front-runners are.
And remember: Sending email WRITTEN IN ALL CAPS LIKE YOU'RE SCREAMING AT ME makes my eyes sting and means your note is much less likely to be quoted.
Let's limit it to commercials you've seen in the last month, so as not to replow old ground. And last year's winner (Citibank's anti-identity theft ads, with voices coming out of mismatched faces) and loser (the creepy Lamisil toenail monster, which still makes me shudder to think of it) are not eligible. Here's .
COMMERCIAL I LOVE: It's overplayed at the moment, but every time I hear Five For Fighting's wistful "100 Years" song ("I'm 22 for a moment..."), I have to stop and watch the Chase Manhattan ad that shows the young couple marrying, honeymooning, and breeding all in the span of a few seconds. They're cute and happy, and the music is perfect, although I'm not sure I buy the mocked-up photo of them as a couple of artificially gray oldsters that's shown when the AARP card is displayed. Chase helpfully has , click on the one named "Life" to watch this one. I believe the ad is by . Kudos, folks.
COMMERCIAL I HATE: I know the Brinks Home Security ads are selling a product people buy because they're afraid, but I still think their ads are creepy. The one bugging me at the moment is one where we hear disembodied voices: A Brinks operator telling a woman (it's always a woman who's in peril, no?) that her alarm system notified them, and when she tries to pass it off as a motion detector, he snots "Ma'am, we did not receive a motion alarm. We received a FIRE alarm." Then her husband screams for them to get out of the house. I'm not sure why I think these ads are so creepy (the topic? the fact that we never see them? the fact that the little playlet is never resolved?), but I suppose you could say the ads do what they're intended to do: Unnerve you.
Now it's your turn. Send in your nominees!