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Test Pattern: What's that song mean?

Plus: More on ‘King Kong’; Harry Potter lexicon; talking Napoleon Dynamite; "Store Wars." By Gael Fashingbauer Cooper

Five-link Friday: Song meanings

On to the good commercials next week, back to five fun links today.

• Sure, the great thing about songs is that so many of them are universal — we hear a love song and apply it to our own situation (or, uh, a breakup song). But I like to peruse to see other possible meanings for lyrics, sometimes even including the one the writer intended. Warning: Comments are from users, so some are just fanboy gush and you're going to have to use your own judgment as to what you believe or don't believe. The site's also a decent source for lyrics, considering that most lyric sites want to install annoying software before letting you see the lyrics.

• Has the "King Kong" movie trailer got you going ape, even though the movie's not out until December? Here's a , with a useful FAQ (Do you know the ?). I also really like , which has a kind of .

• I read the newest Harry Potter book without refreshing my memory on the old ones, and I could have used this thorough to keep reminding me who's who and what's what.

• Get yer talking Napoleon Dynamite doll (or talking pen!) . I hope one of the sayings is "Mah lips hurt real bad!"

• Reader link o' the week:  From Chelsie: "Here's a link I thought you'd find hilarious — because I did: Editor's Note: Heh. I remember this being a popular link when the latest "Star Wars" movie came out, but I never had time to watch it then. It's pretty well-done. I especially like the Storm Troopers as eggs.

Remember to send in your favorite fun link for an upcoming Five-link Friday, and thanks!

Ads that are all about the hatin’

As promised, we’re moving on from some of the commercials we’ve talked to death (Baby Bob, I’m looking at you), and presenting a fresh slate of ads you either love or hate. Next week we’ll get to the ads you like, but today, it’s all about the hatin’. Starting off with an oh-so-familiar creepy face…

“I know the commercials for Lamasil have been banned from the conversation due to the fact that we all agree they're disgusting, but I swear I saw a longer more disgusting version of the commercial. Didn't they get it when we were nauseated by the 30 second one - nope, they've got to go ahead and make a 60 second version! It's like beating you when you're already down!”    --Megan

“The current one I hate is the Coke commercial w/ the redo of that 70's song (I think) where the world would be a better place if everyone had a Coke. The ad is so blatant and self-congratulatory in showing off its ethnic diversity, and the absolute worst part is when the singer says, ‘That's what I'm talkin' bout.’ Ugh! What exactly is he talking about? I have no idea.”    --Dorothy

“Another ad for consideration.....why is Will Brimley YELLING at me all the time about Liberty the one where he's on the horse he sounds like a surly old man (well I guess he is) but it's like my grandpa chewing me out for not doing my chores.”    --Deb

“The worst commercial of all time has to be the new commercial for Fanta featuring the most horrific jingle I've ever heard and women who I should find beautiful wearing garish clothing and dancing around and winking in ways that generally make me want to chop my testicles off and go live in the mountains away from anything resembling culture.”    --Anonymous

“How about all Cingular commercials that say we're "Raising the bar"...yeah, so we can all trip over it.”    --Gloria

“Another suggestion for wretched commercial candidate: the Vonage 'people do stupid things' series. They are mildly amusing, but what were they thinking? It makes it look like signing up for Vonage is yet another of the stupid things you can do.”    --HBaker

"I think there is one commercial that should definitely be inducted into the Hall of Shame—even though it is (hopefully) retired: the Sunday New York Times commercials! In case you weren’t (un)lucky enough to ever see them, they featured lots of sanctimonious people each saying how much they loved the Sunday New York Times through various scenes such as, “The only thing I like better than doing the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle is finishing it!” and “I go straight for Arts Leisure!” I go straight to the restroom to puke! Plus they were shot on a “hand-held” camera technique that made me motion sick."      --Sam

“I hate the Toyota commercials with the kids doing the test driving and the crash tests. It says to me ‘Toyota has passed the under 10 age group.’ Allowances must have improved greatly for the kids to be able to afford the cars.”    --Nancy

“I know you're about done w/ the commercials, but one surfaced recently which I HATE. It's a Toyota commercial, touting the new ‘employee financing rate.’ A saleswoman shows her father the good deal he can get, and he starts yelling at her. ‘Are you TRYING to get fired?’ It's just awful because everyone in the showroom can hear him scream at her.”    --Jean

“I'm surprised I haven't seen any mention of some of the most annoying commercials: the Geico ads. Whether it's the creepy little computer generated lizard with the English accent (why does a lizard have an accent?) or an endless amount of fake reality show ads or Old Navy parodies inevitably ending with someone saying "I've got some good news...", these ads have to be some of the most mind-numbingly irritating ever.”   --Tim[Note to Tim: We went over the Geico ads fairly thoroughly last year, which is why you haven’t seen them resurface here yet. But no time like the present...]

Farewell, Catherine Woolley

It was just a small wire-service obituary that surely won't get the attention of last week's celebrity death, . But those of us who grew up with children's book series will stop for a moment today and utter a silent "thank you" to , who died Saturday at age 100.

Woolley lived a century, yet never married or had children. Her children instead were her 87 books, and the generations who loved them. For me, it was her Ginnie and Geneva series, which fell somewhere in-between the Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew in my childhood reading binges. If I close my eyes I can still picture exactly where Woolley's books were shelved in the Roseville, Minnesota library of my childhood, still smell that good library scent of books and paper and quiet.

Ginnie and Geneva were just two childhood friends who didn't really like each other at first, but grew to be the kind of pals that never really grow apart. Ginnie was the good girl, Geneva the free spirit. They complemented each other perfectly, and as a Ginnie who sometimes longed to be a Geneva, I was captivated.

Some of the scenes in the books stuck so sharply in my head that they still influence my behavior today. Every time I put a pillowcase on a pillow, I'm reminded of a Ginnie and Geneva book where a team of girls raced a team of boys in various household events (that sounds so tame in our Grand Theft Auto world, but leave it to Woolley to make it fascinating). In my memory at least, the girls won, in part because they knew that an easy way to slip a pillowcase on was to tuck the pillow under your neck and slip the case around it that way. I do this every time I recase a pillow now, and although I'm not racing anyone, I smile and think of the book.

Children's books can stay with us for our entire lives, if they're good enough. Series books are special friends, because we can keep coming back for something new, progressing through life with the characters.

I should know. Years ago I found an online group that discussed the series , and not only is the group still active via email, but we gather each summer in a group member's hometown. We know what the kids who stood in line last weekend for Harry Potter's latest also know, that sometimes friends can be made inside bound pages.

Or, as Groucho Marx once said, "Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read."

Back to commercials tomorrow.

Ads we argue over

I’m kind of fascinated by the “hate it/love it” portion of our That’s where I chose four commercials on which your e-mail seemed to be fairly evenly split — for every person who wrote in dogging the ad, another wrote in listing it as a favorite. I figured we’d get fairly even numbers in each of the four polls.

And for two of them, we did — at least at press time. As I write this, 45% of you like the ads for Raisin Bran Crunch where the hapless Johnson gets fired, but can’t hear his boss over the loud noise of his cereal crunching. (In the latest ad, he’s acquired an equally loudly crunching intern.) In a way, I think these ads probably do what they intended to, emphasize a Crunch version of a cereal that we think of as only flakes. But you remain fairly split. Here are three very different opinions:

“I have mixed feelings about the Raisin Bran Crunch commercials. The first commercial was just another commercial to me but, I really liked the second one. The third one was the dea breaker for me. I just don’t like it. The whole ‘be more like Johnson’ comment did it for me. What kind of boss would tell an employee to be like another when the first was in the process of being fired AND is constantly eating on the job?”    --Lena

“Why do I want to hear some guy masticating loudly? It literally drives me away from that product.”    --Gaelan

“My husband and I love the Raisin Bran Crunch commercials! Johnson is hilarious. I will admit that the whole crunching thing can get a bit unnerving, but the commercials in their entire context are great!”    --Jamie

David Spade’s commercials for Capitol One draw another mixed reaction. Spade’s a smartass, that’s the persona he takes on in movies, and that’s the persona he plays in the ads, proud of finding a million ways to say “no” to customers who don’t have Capitol One cards. So the ads live or die on whether you like Spade’s insulting behavior and his occasional comeuppance. I’d say one problem with these ads is they’re overplayed, and listening to “no, no, no” over and over again wears on even the biggest Spade fan’s nerves. At press time, Spade was almost winning you over, with 49% liking the ads and 51% hating them. A few comments:

“David Spade’s no no.”   --Neesia

“David Spade must be a very clever chap—he can make himself sooo annoying, but he’s funny at the same time.”    --Alhambra

I was really surprised by the wide margin on the Sunday Ticket Direct TV singers vote. At press time, a whopping 82% of you hated the ads where the burly football fans sing a jingle to the tune of  “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket” from the original “Willy Wonka” movie. I actually sometimes find myself humming along with these ads, but then I liked the movie and the song reminds me of it, even with different lyrics. Judging from the poll though, I’m almost alone. Some of your thoughts:

“DirecTV commercial for “I’ve Got the Golden Ticket” is the best! I love that dude in the Payton jersey, from ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’.”    --Hank

“If I hear that commercial for DirecTv’s Sunday Ticket package again I am going to go nuts!! My 6 year old son has a habit of singing along with commercials. This is one that he has picked up on and will sing along with...AAHHHRRRGGGGHHH!”    --Niki

But I’ve saved the most interesting commercial debate for last. As we discussed earlier, the Baby Bob ads for Quizno’s subs, featuring a baby (girl!) with a computer-generated mouth and the voice of a burly man, generate your most impassioned e-mails to date. Everyone, it seems, has seen Baby Bob, and everyone has an opinion. (Hold the e-mail on how this is exactly what Quizno’s wanted and how they’re brilliant geniuses, please, until you see Bob’s hate mail.)

At press time, our poll was leaning strongly anti-Bob, with 63% hating the ads and only 37% sticking up for the talking baby. But your mail is much more even on the topic. Here are some of your thoughts. And don't worry if this all seems like old territory, next, we'll move on to ads that I haven't written about before. Promise.

“I DO like Baby Bob; he’s cool. David Spade needs to be killed, however.”    --Bernie

“I noticed that the Quizno’s “Baby Bob” commercial is in the undecided column. Well, if I may add my two cents, that is definitely one of the WORST commercials out there. Why would you have a spokesperson who can’t eat solids? Talking babies are freaky looking and should be saved for B-level horror movies. Not cute, not funny, not good.”  --Erin

“I also really like Baby Bob for Quizno’s. Who hasn’t put words in the mouth of a baby!”  --Anonymous

“Baby Bob is OK ... a tad creepy but definitely better than those freeze-dried rat-looking things from last summer that sang off key with lyrics of undetermined origins.”    --Angie

“Hate Baby Bob commercials. Between those and the so-so food I won’t trade there.”    --Louise

“A campaign I absolutely ADORE is the Quizno’s spots with Bob the Baby! He’s precious! Every time I hear that voice, I run to the TV. I don’t know what it is about hearing a grown-up Brooklynite voice coming out of a toddler, but it’s original and memorable. Sure, some may find it annoying, but not me. Give me more Bob!”    --Peggy

“Creepiest commercial since the Spongemonkeys proclaiming their undying love for Quiznos is creepy little Bob the talking Baby. It may be the most unnatural act ever committed by advertisers on the unsuspecting American public.”    --Docc

Getting personal

Remember, if you haven't voted yet in our best/worst commercial poll, . At press time, the HP photo frames ad was your favorite by a large margin, but it was closer in the worst-ad poll. The Tampax-boat stopper was leading, but followed closely by the creepy Burger King with the plastic head and the squirm-inducing Pepto-Bismol symptom dance.

I received quite a reaction to the column about way-too-personal commercials. The Tampax and Pepto-Bismol ads came in for the most comment, while few people cared to write in about the Zelnorm ad (with symptoms like “BLOATING” written on people’s stomachs). Many folks agreed – if these sensitive products are going to be shilled on commercials, it should be done with good taste, and commercials that go for the funny bone are likely to miss.

But some others think I’m just an old prude who needs to get over myself. Here are some of your thoughts.

TAMPAX ROCKS THE BOAT“I found your article to be right on the mark! I saw the Tampax commercial for the first time the other night and was absolutely disgusted. As a woman, I know what feminine products are, and when they were used to plug a hole in a boat I was embarrassed.   –Michelle

“I’m sorry, but that girl must be abnormal in the Tampax ad, why does she have an entire box on hand? And that ‘pon would last five seconds before it was so soaked it exploded out of the boat and shot up in the air.”    –Tess

“Hate the Tampax ad? First ask yourself if you are the target for the ad. If you are a guy- guess what: the commercial was not made for you. Hey, at least it is different and gets people talking about a subject that shouldn’t be so taboo.”    –Anonymous

“Regarding rock the boat. About ten years ago while at Catalina Island someone took my plug out of my dinghy. And when we got into the boat to get back to our bigger boat we started to sink. We were able to keep from sinking because of a Tampon. I think it is a great application for this product. It actually lasted the entire evening and following morning until I was able to purchase another boat plug from the hardware store in Avalon.”    –Al

“There’s a Tampax ad I love. It’s set in a class room. One girl whispers something to another and the second girl passes her something. At this point the ad starts talking aobut the discreet size and packaging. The teacher sees the hand off and asks the second girl to come to the front of the class and had it over. He says, “Did you bring enough for the whole class?” She smiles, sort of embarrassed, sort of sassy, and says, “Enough for the girls.” I think it gets the message across in a humorous way by setting up a situation that could very well happen.”    –Lawst

“You hit the nail right on the head concerning that annoying Pepto-Bismol ad. Should be Pepto-Dismal.    –Phil

“Remember SNL’s “Bass-O-Matic?” The Pepto ad would have been laughed at on SNL as a great send-up just a few years ago. Now “creative” directors think it’s legit. How sad.”   –John

“OHHHHH that Pepto commerical! What do they think, I’m gonna go to the store try to decide on an antacid and think to myself...”If I were dancing what would I want to take?”    --Anonymous

“I absolutely hate hate hate the Pepto Bismol commercial. I refuse to buy that product after having to endure such a pathetic site of grown adults singing rubbing the stomachs and asses...I use to use the product, but noooo not anymore. If they are so tasteless in how they advertise then it doesn’t say too much about the product or the people making it. Another company now gets my business!. They really need to take that godawful commercial off the air.”    –Sheryl

“I DO enjoy the Pepto Bismol dance line, it is nice [to] find humor in the topic.”    –Jeanne

“I personally LOVE the pepto bismal commercial! IT IS FUNNY! You are all just quite uptight if you can’t have a little laugh about that commercial. Seriously people, EVERYONE has these problems at some point in their lives and this commercial is simply trying to make it a lighter, less embarassing situation for the world. But HEAVEN FORBID, I guess, that life be humorous and fun rather than depressing and embarassing. YOU PEOPLE ARE ANNOYING AND NEED TO OPEN UP YOUR MINDS A LITTLE BIT! YOU DISGUST ME!  --Emmy”

“I agree with Anna -- the Zelnorm commercial is nauseating!”  --Sandy

“Praises to Anna and Cris!! They put it so well. Please, please, PLEASE stop the Stomach Trouble ads!”    --Angeline

“As for the Zelnorm commercial, I think it is done fairly tastefully and this problem afflicts more than 10 million people in the US, it’s not a sexually transmitted disease.”   –Melissa

OTHER PRODUCTS“You are absolutely correct about commercials becoming tooooooo intimate and personal. While I do think the Tampax ad was funny when I finally saw it I could live without it. What is most bothersome is that we are now entering the phase of intimate moisturizers with heat, ED pills really sold to and for women — Levitra, and a bunch of other things that would seem to cause a lot of discomfort during family viewing time. I guess the standards of good taste have changed and I do not see myself as a prude.”    —Peter

“How about those ads for Chaser Hangover Prevention (take before drinking and you’ll wake up refreshed no matter how much you consume)? Alcoholics the world over may be relieved to see them, but the rest of us are creeped out!”  --Suzanne

“My least favorite, and downright immoral ads are those for prescription drugs -- we don’t even know what they are FOR, and we’re supposed to go to our physicians and ask if they are right for us? Do they really think the population and our physicians are so stupid that the repeating of the names will get us to ask for these prescriptions? For one thing, I always want the generic, cheaper brands!”    --Colleen

“Right now, the absolute worst commercial I’ve ever seen is for KY Warming Massage and Personal Lubricant. The man is laying in bed reading a book, and his wife says, “Well, I guess conversation is out.” Then she picks up this big bottle of KY and starts going on about it’s uses and when she gets to the lubricant part, he puts his book down and next thing you know she’s giggling and turning the lamp off. As a married woman, I know first hand this is not how it works. If both my husband and I are in bed at the same time, he’s either sleeping, or trying to get lucky. No reading. And say, for some odd reason he was reading, when started telling the TV camera in our bedroom about our sexual products, he would definitely put the book down. Stupid, stupid, stupid commercial.”   –Leslie

How about those commercials for medicine to treat people with genital herpes? They’re all the same, some woman complaining about how her condition is such an inconvenience, while her boyfriend hangs out in the background, seemingly oblivious to her talking to the camera during their horseback riding/bicycling/swimming/etc. The only thing those commercials make me think about is telling the poor guy dating the girl with an incurable STD to “RUN!”    --Chris

IMHO, the Enzyte ads starring “Bob” and advertising a “natural male enhancement” product take the cake. Bad puns, a limp garden hose...come on, now. While these ads aren’t necessarily offensive, there’s just something about them that make me cringe.  –Anonymous

I don’t know why but the add with women saying, “its a wonderful age” and they are all walking and talking and looking healthy when the medication is for? I’m not sure, Osteoporosis? I have to turn on the mute or by the end of the ad I am annoyed. Who knew I was anti-healthy?  --Arthur

“I am so with you on the tampon ad and the plugging of the hole in the boat. But the other commercial that gets my goat (grant it not as much as seeing the tampon with a 7 year old and 5 year old asking ‘what is that, Mom’) is the maxipad commercial when the lady stops you in the middle of the grocery store aisle and starts patting the other ladies clothes with the pad to prove that it is dry!.”  –Joanne

GET A GRIP“loosen up, i mean the world is changing... how about if your stuck watching commercials that are offending you then stop watching them and get involed with something like taking your kids out to play catch or go for a walk in the park... i mean it’s not like they are making you watch t.v. that’s your choice, you don’t like whats on? turn it off and see whats going on in the world.”  –Paul

“To gross out or to not gross out? The bottom line is - thank you for watching and remembering our product the next time you go to store - will you really recall ad offended you? I think not - but you will remember product name. That’s the name of the game.”    –J

“The purpose of advertising is to get noticed, first of all. And second of all is to be remembered. Now you may not buy these products, but I bet most people do buy them because of these commercials. Hey, they do the job... they sell product.”    —Roland