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Test Pattern: Yul Brynner’s PSA

Yul Brynner's powerful PSA is still around. Plus: "FBOFW" attack; theme-park brochures; "Pride and Prejudice" trailer; Joe Bob lives! By Gael Fashingbauer Cooper

Five-link Friday: Yul Brynner's warning

Time for another five-link Friday, with more from the world of commercials next week. Note: This won't go on forever (although it may seem like it, if you're already sick of commercial banter). We'll wrap up the commercial chat in the next few weeks, and announce your choice for best and worst commercial just before Labor Day. Then the worst commercial will have to battle with last year's worst, Digger the Dermatophyte, for the worst-ad trophy. That's a fight I don't want to see.

• It's been a rough week for celebrities and cancer — Peter Jennings and Barbara Bel Geddes both died, both of lung cancer, and Dana Reeve announced she had it, even though she's a nonsmoker. This reminded me of the , released only after he was dead. You can watch it at the link above, and it's still powerful.

• I've blabbed before about my addiction to Lynn Johnston's "For Better or For Worse" comic strip, so I'd be remiss if I didn't address the near-rape plot that unfolded this week. For the best discussion, turn to (The word "foob" comes from a bit of April slang meaning "fool+boob," and has been adopted as shorthand for the strip's name.) And if you want my opinion on the revelation of Liz's savior, I've shared more at Pop Culture Junk Mail, my personal pop-culture Weblog.

• The site is no longer being updated, but is a fascinating collection of pamphlets from theme parks new and old, still here and almost forgotten. Here's my hometown park, Valleyfair in Shakopee, Minnesota (I remember when it was built). I find the ones from parks I never heard of even more fascinating, though. Australia apparently has Charlie Cheese, which looks like a Chuck E. Cheese to me, at a place called Surfer's Paradise. And I've always wanted to visit Pennsylvania's HersheyPark, where apparently ginormous Hershey's Kisses manhandle young children. Oh, I kid, ginormous Hershey's Kiss, I kid.

• A new “Pride and Prejudice” film is due out in September, starring Keira Knightley. You can . Some Austen fans I know are convinced it’s going to be a train wreck, and they aren’t too fond of Knightley taking on the vaunted Elizabeth Bennet role. I can understand that, but I’ll probably see it anyway. Wow, the Internet has certainly changed English class. You can not only , but the online version does things like hyperlink character names, place names and other terms. My favorite P&P line is from this chapter: “I do not cough for my own amusement,” replied Kitty fretfully.”

• Rebecca, an assistant to the wonderful Joe Bob Briggs, writes in to tell me that like MST3K's Mike Nelson, Joe Bob also does humorous commentaries for schlocky movies (OK, the "shlocky" part came from me.) As a fan of Joe Bob from way back, I'm happy to provide a link to . He's hilarious, witty, and is leading the fight to keep drive-in movie theaters alive in this country. Joe Bob says check it out. And for those who, like me, missed his hosting of "Monstervision," apparently, Joe Bob was Joe fired.

Let's pick a fight!

As with every commercial, the musical ones sometimes cause debate. Certain commercials drew e-mail from both sides: people who love the ads, and appreciate the way music is used, and those who can't stand them. Here are some of your comments on the more hotly debated musical ads. (I shared a few of these comments before, but it's interesting now to see them paired up with opposing views.) You can also and tell us which of the five ads below you love or hate.

1) Chase Manhattan, Five for Fighting's "100 Years"LOVE IT: "I’m with you on the Five for Fighting “100 Years” song. That also makes me stop and watch...and tear up each time I see it. I loved the song before Chase adopted it, and am glad it’s being given a longer life on TV. The group’s video of that song is also wonderful and moving."        —Dayle

HATE IT: "I’m sorry, but I can’t stand Five For Fighting, and especially their song “100 Years.” Something’s not right when a man sounds like a woman! The Chase Manhattan ad could’ve still worked if they’d used Bon Jovi’s “Next 100 Years.”        —CJ

2) Target, "I like backpacks and I cannot lie..."
"Those Target ads catch my eye. And baby, I just can’t deny. I just cannot sit when I hear the clever wit. It makes me wanna go out and buy."       —Kathleen

HATE IT: "I am terribly disappointed in Target for using the “Baby got Back” song... I think it is disrespectful and undignified. Companies lose respect and business by doing this."    —Tavitajoy

3) Buick, Aerosmith, "Dream On"LOVE IT: "Aerosmith's 'Dream On' for the car ads are awesome!"    —Dawn

HATE IT: "What's the deal with using Aerosmith in car commercials? I just want to hear the lyrics and they use 'Dream On"' in a commercial. As a 20 year old college student, I will not be buying a brand new car anytime soon. So what, am I suppose to dream on about owning my own car some day and hopefully it will be theirs?"    —Jessica

4) Maxwell House, firefighters sing "Our House"LOVE IT: "Yep, you gotta love the Maxwell House firefighters ad — it's very catchy & they look surprisely like real life, some goofy, some quiet & strong."    —Patty

HATE IT: "Oooooh...there is no possible way that someone thinks the Maxwell House interpretation of an annoying Madness song is remotely clever! I was never really liked the song to begin with...but I find myself going out of my way to avoid hearing at all."    —Marnie

5) Fruit of the Loom, "You Can't Overlove Your Underwear"
I am loving the 'You Can't Overlove Your Underwear' Fruit of the Loom commercials. It is filmed like a musical video. Cracks me up everytime. There is an accompanying commercial where the Fruit of the Loom guys are viewing the video in the studio and are complaining that the video is showing too much Apple. Hilarious."    —Sabrina

HATE IT: "Apparently Fruit of the Loom isn't taking a cue from the 1980's. Remember the California Raisins? Yep, singing fruit was scary then and it's still scary now! Not to mention that if I hear the song one more time I'll go mad. Yes, you CAN over-love your underwear. Trust me. If it can stand up on its own it's had more than enough lovin' and needs to be tossed."    —Leslie

Sometimes commercials hit the right notes

Yes, there are a lot of commercials that misuse music, but some of them are smart about song choice. I had to admit, I recently cracked up at a promo for the show "COPS" that featured cops racing after and tackling suspects to the tune of the famed ). Here are some of the other musical commercials that you admit to liking.

Summertime skaters"I LOVE LOVE LOVE the song in the (click on "Sparkle" to play clip)! It makes me smile and want to run out and buy roller skates immediately! Its so cute and summery, its just a great song. And with all the beautiful people skating around and drinking Diet Coke, its a perfect fit!"    —Chelsea

PBS promos"Yep, you gotta love the Maxwell House firefighters ad — it’s very catchy & they look surprisely like real life, some goofy, some quiet & strong. And kudos to PBS for using though at different times, both the soundtrack to “Glory” by James Horner & the soundtrack to “Dances with Wolves” by John Barry. Both are hauntingly beautiful & both make you contemplative, which I am sure is what PBS had in mind."       —Patty

School supplies"Don’t think this one has been mentioned yet: I saw the newest Office Max “Rubberband Man” ad today. It’s a back-to-school one with the Rubberband Man giving school supplies to kids still enjoying summer vacation. Something about that song and that nutty guy dancing around so happy all the time makes me smile. When that song comes on the radio I kind of wanna start throwing paper clips at people...but I don’t think they’d get it."        —Brett

I like backpacks and I cannot lie"Those Target ads catch my eye. And baby, I just can’t deny. I just cannot sit when I hear the clever wit. It makes me wanna go out and buy."        —Kathleen

A capella coffee"One of my all-time favorite musical commercials is the old Folger’s one with the a capella group Rockapella ‘The best part of waking up is Folger’s in your cup.’ The group jokes about it being their biggest hit despite being known a many people as the singing guys on ‘Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?’”      —Alyson

The great outdoors"'Stay As You Are' by Span in the Nissan X-Terra commercials. It’s a great song, and it definitely fit with the idea of being all outdoorsy and adventurous, but the song is a little more philosophical than the ad implies. Still, definitely one of the best songs used in commercials right now."        —Karen

Yard leopard"My favorite commercial at the moment is the ad for Advantage Flea and Tick control with the animals in the backyard and the dog singing 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight.' When that dog croons “In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lions sleeps tonight” I want to keel over laughing."     —Patricia[Editor's Note: I've seen this with a cat, not a dog, but agree, it's pretty great.]

Ads hit sour notes

You had plenty to say about the use of songs in commercials -- the good, the bad, and the ones where someone needed to read the ENTIRE lyrics sheet before selecting that song. Today we'll start out with a look at just some of the musical ads you hate, and next we'll move on to the ones you enjoy. Hmm, one guess as to which side dominates the mailbag...

Playing chicken"Please, please, please explain to me why KENTUCKY Fried Chicken is using 'Sweet Home ALABAMA' in its commercials? it drives me crazy — if they can't tell the difference there, what might they be passing off as chicken?"       —Shannon

Still more chicken"I have one that is saturating the airwaves at this moment. Not only does it wreak of sexual overtones it is asinine and inane. I’m speaking of the Burger King Coq Roq ads. The name itself is pretty damn obvious. With a band of rockers donning rooster face masks singing the song “Bob Your Head”. The ads continue to go on with other things that are slightly humorous. I enjoy watching the band try to cross the road. I am middle-aged but I’m no prude. Yet I find this crap to be offensive.”    —Anonymous[Editor's Note: I haven't seen these ads yet, but BusinessWeek Online has an .]

Not that kind of angel"I thought it was hilarious when 'Touched by an Angel' began using the song 'Talk to Angels' by the Black Crowes. I guess no one told the PAX-TV crowd that the song is about a heroin addict."        —Laura

Not that kind of ribs
"Chili’s has a an ad where they ask people to sing the song 'I Want My Baby Back.' They intend it to be I want my baby back-ribs. Whenever I see that ad I think of the song, “I Want My Baby Back”; a gross-out song from the 1960’s. The originial song was about a man who loses his woman friend in a motorcycle accident, and is so overcome with grief, he digs up her coffin and gets inside with her."        —Bennett

Futile dreams"What’s the deal with using Aerosmith in car commercials? I just want to hear the lyrics and they use 'Dream On' in a commercial. As a 20 year old college student, I will not be buying a brand new car anytime soon. So what, am I supposed to dream on about owning my own car some day and hopefully it will be theirs?        —Jessica

War, what is it good for?"The Gap clothing store used to use the CCR hit 'Fortunate Son' in a patriotic-themed commercial. Problem is that the song was written in protest of rich kids being able to dodge the draft while the underprivileged were lined up as so much cannon fodder. Not that I would’ve shopped there anyway, but no way I’m gonna reward that kind of ignorance. No way."    —Debbie

Born down in a dead man's town"Any company or cause dumb enough to use 'Born In The USA' as a 'patriotic' theme. ‘Nuff said."  –Kelly

Owe my soul to the company store"The ad I can’t stand for its music has to be the GE ad for their coal mining. They use the song 'Sixteen Tons,' which about how horrible it is to be a coal miner. I don’t know if someone realized there was a song 'about coal mining' and decided to use it in an ad, but wow. I actually laugh when I see this commercial."    —Anonymous

Crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see"The new Subaru commercial that uses 'Dust in the Wind' really annoys me. The song just means more than one car outlasting the others."   –Stephanie