This blog covers everything except sports and gardening, unless we find a really good link about using dead professional bowlers for mulch. The author is a StarTribune columnist, has been passing off fiction and hyperbole as insight since 1997, has run his own website since the Jurassic era of AOL, and was online when today’s college sophomores were a year away from being born. So get off his lawn.

Posts about Television

Government settles the Cap'n Crunch scandal

Posted by: James Lileks Updated: June 20, 2013 - 12:27 PM

But first, the video of the day. Description: No, no, no, no. Don’t do that. Don’t lean out.




CAP’N CRUNCH UNMASKEDThis is actually in Foreign Policy:

The U.S. Navy has confirmed the shocking news that Cap'n Crunch, the legendary explorer of many an uncharted cereal bowl, is a fraud.

After 50 years of purporting to be a naval captain, the imposter was finally unmasked yesterday by an alert fan on culinary site Foodbeast, who pointed out that Crunch is wearing the wrist stripes of a U.S. Navy commander rather than a captain.

"You are correct that Cap'n Crunch appears to be wearing the rank of a U.S. Navy commander," Lt. Cmdr. Sarah Flaherty, a U.S. Navy spokeswoman, tells Foreign Policy. "Oddly, our personnel records do not show a 'Cap'n Crunch' who currently serves or has served in the Navy."

On his popular Twitter feed, Crunch is replying with hip-hop broadsides: "They see me crunchin', they hatin', milk soakin', they tryna catch me crunchin' soggy."

Sure, that’s just how he talks. It’s almost as if the controversy is being inflated to make you pay attention . . . to this.



That’s one long commercial. It follows the time-honored script of cereal ads: someone is attempting to gain access to the cereal, against the wishes of its possessor or against some arbitrary rule set down by unnamed forces. In this case, the pirate Jean LaFoote is after the Crunch, and to sneak on board the ship his crew is dressed like a boy band.

 Interesting choice of hats:



Of course, that’s supposed to remind us of this guy:



Dirk Dastardly from the Penelope Pitstop cartoon, right? The guy with the snickering dog, which was funny for about 14 seconds? Hanna-Barbera junk from the 60s/70s now prized by boomers for qualities it never had, and ironically admired by post-Millennials for its irony-free banalities? Something like that.

Here’s an original Crunch ad. The very first.



The voice was the great Daws Butler, of course. The Twitter name for the Captain, by the way, is “RealCapnCrunch.” Because other people beat them to the name.

Spoiler: Don Draper is a bad man

Posted by: James Lileks Updated: May 13, 2013 - 12:41 PM

Re: last night's "Mad Men" - Don Draper's “Last Tango in Midtown” routine was jarring - an act, perhaps? Yes, that’s it. This is his way of ending the affair, by pushing her until she rejects him. After all, we saw how shaken he looked when he overheard the row from the elevator. But we also saw how shaken he looked when she ended it. Which could mean that his elevator panic, stabbing the CLOSE button, was the act of a coward, and his collapse when she called it off was the act of a man who cannot respond when someone reaches into the raw nerve in the center of his ego and grasps it with a pilers and gives it a twist - a gentle one, mind you, out of remnant affection.

And then there’s the alpha-dogging Ted into a mid-afternoon stupor - he pounds three slugs of Canadian Club just to warm up, and uses his Professional Alcoholic skills to get some collab out of the session before depositing his victim in public where everyone can tell he’s sotted. .

Where the heck did that man come from? Why, it was the Don Draper everyone knows and loves, at least among the audience. But everything was turned up to eleven and played with soulless dead-eyed calculation, as though the last small sympathetic and admirable attributes had been revealed as something we read into the character, not something the character possessed. He’s a bad man. That’s what Weiner was telling us here. This is who he’s always been. What, you didn’t see that?.

If you wonder why he behaved that way, well, basic cheap psychology: faced with a comparable talent as a partner, he tries to dominate Ted with personality, only to lose face in the airplane; given a free hand with his mistress, he tries to dominate her completely, only to lose when she calls an end to the interlude. He’s bereft and unmoored at the end because both gambits went sour. Not that he’d thought them out. Not that he’d allowed for the reactions of other people. A guy who can correctly calculate the emotional appeal of a margarine commercial aired to millions of people can’t see beyond his own actions. 

"The Last Picture Show," by the way, was the book Don took from his girlfriend to read in the plane. Read into that what you wish.


VIDEO This is the modern world: when someone is kicked off a plane for repeatedly singing a Whitney Houston song, not only do you hear about the story, there’s video.



Here’s the story:

An American Airlines flight was forced to make an emergency landing after a woman on board refused to stop singing Whitney Houston’s hit song 'I Will Always Love You'.

The unnamed woman was handcuffed and removed from the flight by air marshals after it was forced to divert to Kansas. Remarkably she was still singing the 1992 song when escorted from the plane.

What stuck out for me was the Flight Attendant laying down the law for the rest of the passengers: no photographs allowed on the plane.Since when?

 Related: Most fliers had electronic devices on planes last year, and nearly 30 percent “accidentally” left them on. Yes, that’s it. Accidentally. Sure. And yet the planes arose into the sky without incident, found their way to their destination and gave the earth a smoky scorched kiss when its tires met the runaway.

 The NYT notes:

As I reported in 2011, travelers are told to turn off their iPads and Kindles for takeoff and landing, yet there is no proof that these devices affect a plane’s avionics. To add to the confusion, the F.A.A. permits passengers to use electric razors and audio recorders during all phases of flight, even though those give off more electronic emissions than tablets.

One of these days they’ll change the policy and there won’t be a jot of explanation or apology.


OKP That’s “Obligatory Kubrick Post,” since the internet has decided in the last few years we must either talk about “2001” or “The Shining.” Here’s a HoJo restaurant book for kids explaining “2001.” Why would they do that? Well:

Worst TV Anchor Debut in Human History

Posted by: James Lileks Updated: April 22, 2013 - 12:32 PM

Possibly. Mediaite says:

They say you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, which is probably fine by one local broadcaster. In what may have been the shortest news-anchoring gig ever, A.J. Clemente began his career with Bismarck, North Dakota NBC affiliate KFYR with the tired old news cliché
(profanity removed, because this is a family newspaper, and you really need to hear it in context.)

It’s here. He has been suspended pending an investigation into how stupid can one guy be. Is this brilliant debut - which goes from muttered words One Does Not Say On the Set Ever to a leaden read on top stories - this indicative of NoDak newsreader quality? Can’t speak for KFYR’s history, but when I was growing up in Fargo the newsreaders seemed much older. They didn’t look like callow sprouts. Of course, I was ten, but still.

UPDATE: Drudge has linked. This is the worst day in this young man’s life.

Also in Television News: these lyrics may be completely obscene, but I can’t tell. Can you guess which American show is being, er, reimagined for Georgian TV?



Answer at the end of the post.


MAD MEN Not a full-out comedy episode, but close. For all the obsessives who absolutely have to know every detail, the LIFE magazine on the table in Pete Campbell’s pied-a-tierre was from May 19th, 1967, and had astronaut Wally Schirra on the cover.



As for the advertising-related plot: I thought both Don and Peggy’s ketchup ads were good, which is the oddest thing I will write all day. Because, c’mon: they’re ketchup ads. But you saw two schools of thought at work, and each had their merits - Don’s campaign made you think about something but not showing it, and Peggy went for blunt brand awareness. What did Heinz actually run? Something worse.






APPS Last I raved about the new Yahoo! weather app, and said it changed pictures of your location every day.  I was misinformed. Subsequent use indicates that it rotates between three (3) pictures. Still pretty, though. Nothing for Fargo, which either doesn’t have enough pictures in Flickr with a Fargo tag, or Yahoo hates Fargo.

While we’re on the subject of Apps: the other day at Cub I forgot my Cub Rewards Card, which meant I could not be Rewarded. (At Cub.) The self-check machine asks if I’d like to scan my card; I push the “forgot the card because it’s in another coat and it’s not the sort of thing I’d carry around in my wallet, because I like a thin wallet. You understand” option on the screen. Whereupon it asks me to enter my Cub Rewards Number.

Sure, that’s something I committed to memory. Could I link the number to my phone number? No. But not to worry. I have the Cub Rewards App. The number’s in there. I open it up and the number’s not in there. All the information is blank for some reason. Not to worry: I can get the number  by signing into my account, because of course I have a login and a password for the bleepin’ grocery store. Doesn’t everyone? But since I can’t remember my password I use the RETRIEVE function, which will send my password to my email box, but it times out twice and says it cannot retrieve any information. You want to weep because you're just trying to buy a loaf of bread but you've forgotten your password.

No, there wasn’t anyone in line behind me.


ANSWER I think you can get an idea what show the Georgians used as inspiration for this . . . this thing.


 (via LaughingSquid, which has more on its creators.)

The bird talks and lives with them, by the way. He also apparently incapable of looking up.

The full clip is 19 minutes, but during two attempts to watch it, the clip has decided it’s shorter, and stopped. I must have enabled “Mercy” in my settings; have to change that. YouTube’s no fun if it decides to stop showing something for your own good. This morning, for example, I found myself  watching a monthly compendium of UFO sightings, one of which included a UFO shooting a Spanish wind turbine with a Laser. It’s proven with filters!


As someone notes in the comments:

Pretty naive from you. Or maybe you intend if you are one of them or if you are little puppets which work for US governement NCA CIA or other Reptilian services on this planet


Put deeper your hand in sand and your mind in darkness of ignorance. Afer your short Life you will finish like a food for Astral or Etheric parasites on other levels on this planet.

This is why we need the internet: so people who actually have sufficient time on their hands to debunk the videos in the comments section can enter into a flamewar with someone who believes in the Reptilian Conspiracy. If there wasn’t an internet they would wander the streets picking fights with birds.

Industrial Fatigue Cured by Milk

Posted by: James Lileks Updated: April 16, 2013 - 12:15 PM

Do you feel fatigued? It could be the weather, and the suspicion that spring is still a few days, or weeks, or months away. Perhaps it’s the lack of sun. Perhaps you’re just not getting enough . . . milk.


We knew it was good with cereal, but also a cure for industrial fatigue? Impressive.  I found that on a page of tiny ads in an old newspaper. There were so many. The bread and butter of the industry, really. And they sold bread and butter, too. This one caught my eye:



ICE! Not just when you want it but asyou want it, which sounds like the sequel to a Shakespeare play. Also, note it’s an Ice AND Fuel company, so if your drink has a slight gasoline tinge, you’ll know why.

The ad was below a news story that just happened to be about . . . the Cedar Lake Ice company.




This is not described as an “Ad” or “sponsored” content. It’s a news story. There’s a photo of the fleet:



The story goes on to extoll the virtues of the basically correct ice company. You wonder how much the company paid for it 

Those were the days!


MYSTERIES Here’s a line that might make you read a piece about the world’s most untranslatable manuscript: "One of the women looks vaguely annoyed, her hands inserted into two pipes, a small beard sprouting from her chin." More here.

It’s odd I should run across that this morning; daughter brought it up over the dinner table, because she’d been watching a YouTube “Top Ten” video. There are a million of them. Top Ten Unexplained Mysteries, Top Ten Strangest Objects in Space, Top Ten Spurious Assertions Tarted Up With Attractive Graphics, Top Ten Credulous Internet Top-Ten-List Viewers, that sort of thing. Every time she tells about one we go through the assertions to see if they’re factual, or just more internet nonsense. The general lesson: don’t believe something just because it’s in a list and has a dramatic soundtrack.

TECH New commenting system! This CRAPCHA should cut down on all the spambots who want to tell everyone they made lots of money working from home.



I suggest that every site on the internet use this for a while. You can get yours here.

As long as we’re on peeves - and for me, those include spambot comments and CAPCHAs - let me speak on behalf of everyone who accidentally mouses over something underlined twice, and an ad pops up: stop it. No one quits what they’re reading and goes to search for timepieces because they accidentally clicked on the word “watch.” If mousing over the word triggers a short video with audio, please realize you are ruining the internet and people will shun you at parties if you tell them what you do for a living. Thank you.


MAD MEN Is Jon Hamm still doing the radio ads for Benz? He sounds hoarse and uncertain. I still can’t figure out why they hired him to do the ads and requested that he not sound like Don Draper, but they’re the experts. Speaking of Mad Men: here’s something no one else who studies every word, gesture, color, background TV announcer script, or piece of glassware has pointed out yet. I should note that I liked the episode, which is usually a sign that the people who obsess over it were disappointed. It works that way, somehow. Nevertheless:



Don’s expression after he had engaged in some marvelous subterfuge intended to sink the wishes of a disappointing, dull-minded client. In the background, a reminder of one his most favorite pitches.



Of course that's intentional. They've moved since the Carousel pitch. It was put there for us to see. 

Last night's "Lost"

Posted by: James Lileks Updated: April 14, 2010 - 12:15 PM

That was good. At least three “didn’t see that coming” moments. (“Tell me about it,” Locke might say. "Didn't even hear it coming.") Some observations:


1. Everybody does love Hugo, as the title of the ep says. He’s a great guy. He’s a decent fellow. He can sit on the beach and look Libby in the eye, which was something of a challenge. Hurrah to the writers and Jorge Garcia for making a one-note character into the most richly shaded person on the show. Everyone else has Traits, or is a captive of their backstory; Hugo has soul.


2. When Garcia realized the show would last for many seasons, did he think: no point in dieting, then, is there? Is it in his contract?


3. When Desmond’s order number at Mr. Cluck was called, it was of course one of The Numbers: 42. Imagine you’ve never seen the show, and you’re sitting around with some people who are really, really into it. The number’s called, and everyone else laughs, and you think: 42 is funny? 42 means something?


4. Kids, remember: ancient dynamite is unstable. Even if it’s been soaked by tropical storms for a couple centuries. At least Hugo read the directions: Light Fuse, GET AWAY.


5. Desmond’s driving around, talking to people, making connections? So he’s the new Jacob? Could be; don’t tell me you didn’t see echoes of Jacob’s shack in that Electromagnetic Field Generator room.


6. The previous sentence would have made no sense to anyone ten years ago, but we might have deduced it had to do with a complex TV plot. Likewise, no one will care in ten years, and the answers to Lost will probably be forgotten along with the identity of Laura Palmer’s killer. Speaking of which: Twin Peaks may have been the only show to get away with ending its mystery as it did. The self-contained movie version has an ordinary ending - BOB down in the basement with his death-bag, et cetera. The end of the Laura Palmer mystery, in season 2, was as unique as the show itself: you wanted the killer strung up, drawn, and quartered when the show began. When it ended you sat there weeping with compassion. Damnedest thing; whether it was more Lynch or Mark Frost, I’ve no idea, but that was one of those 10 Great Moments of TV, Fictional Division. If only they’d stopped there, because the second season plot about was pretty stupid, what with Windom Earle and Mulder in a skirt. 


7. If you’re scoring at home, the Desmond vs. Locke game is all tied at 1-1.


Next week: who can possibly say? I know this: whatever it all leads up to, I’m not watching it from the start to see if it made sense from the beginning. When it’s done, I‘m never going back.


I will watch parts of this episode again before next week, though. BOOM! Tell me you didn’t laugh. A little.


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