Samsung released a new ad mocking the iPhone for its throttling issue. It's a very valid point - but a very risky one for Samsung, of all companies, to make. That's because it leaves them open for Apple releasing an ad, "At least our phones haven't burst into flame. Or gotten banned on planes"
I've been running around the last few days, so Ii haven't had much time to catch up in detail on all the news. As best I can tell, there is a lot of meltdown and angst around TrumpWorld and in the GOP. The most galling story, yet one which hasn't received much press attention, is that Trump's Inspector General has sent his findings -- that former acting FBI-director Andrew McCabe was "less than candid" with the FBI -- to the Department of Justice for possible criminal charges. From what little I've read, it seems unlikely that criminal charges will actually be filed. But -- 1) they could be, 2) what a chilling effect it must have on the entire department, and 3) what a fascist thing to do, try to undermine other voices of authority.
I also saw that Trump was dancing little jigs about the release of the FBI's Comey memos -- despite the reality that the memos pretty clearly support Comey and show Trump to be a pathetic sleazeball. All that without even getting into the fact that the memos should never have been released because they were evidence in an ongoing FBI investigation, but several top Republicans in the complicit House put on their fascist hats and were whining and bellowing for the documents.
And more, and more.
But what stood out to me among them all was, in most ways, a lesser story. But one that is utterly fascinating and especially telling about Trump. It was a long, detailed and very readable article in the Washington Post by Jonathan Greenberg. He is a reporter who back in the 1980s worked for Forbes magazine and was involved with putting together the initial "Forbes 400" lists of the wealthiest Americans. And the title of the article says it all -- "Trump lied to me about his wealth to get onto the Forbes 400. Here are the tapes."
What's so notable about the article is that many of the relentless specifics come from off-the-record conversations that Greenberg had, many with Trump himself posing under one of his pseudonyms of "John Barron," as well as conversations with Trump's lawyer and mentor, the disgraced Roy Cohn. However, Greenberg feels comfortable revealing this conversations because, as he writes -- "Although Trump, posing as Barron, asked Forbes to conduct the conversation off the record, I am publishing it here. I believe an intent to deceive — both with the made-up persona and the content of the call — released me from my good-faith pledge."
But the most notable thing about the article is, as the headline of the piece notes -- the tapes. Greenberg recorded many of the conversations with both Trump and Cohn, and has embedded them here. So, you can now hear Trump as "John Barron" clear as day, and lying through every orifice and body part. And it's blatantly Trump. Even from the distance of time, and him putting on a thicker New York accent, it's Trump. Clear as a glass window.
Even if you don't read the whole article, at least listen to the tapes. And in the end, what this article does is demonstrate -- in text and audio -- the beginnings of Trump's public flim-flam to try to con the American public about himself.
I was really surprised to see the new ad campaign from Pepsi. It's point is that Pepsi has long been a beverage which everyone for generations has love. Not just today, but your parents loved it and even your grandparents drank it. There's Cindy Crawford's son -- and Cindy Crawford drinking it a decade earlier. There's Britney Spears drinking Pepsi back in 2001. There's Michael Jackson dancing and drinking it in the 1980s. There are your grandparents on a date drinking it. And that's a lovely message, and all well and good --
Except that Pepsi made its BIG breakthrough with "The Pepsi Generation." That it was the cola for today, for the young and hip. Not that old soft drink that your parents drink and people have been drinking for decades. It's a new world, it's the Pepsi Generation!!
And now -- drink Pepsi because your grandparents did???
(And yes, you get bonus points if you recognize the singer there as Joanie Sommers.)
But it's not like they just used that slogan in the '60s. Here's an ad from the 1970s, making the exact same point. That if you're young and hip, you're in the Pepsi Generation.
And the 1980s were the Pepsi Generation, too. And not just the generation of young people, but really young people. Like toddlers.
And then Michael Jackson came along with the latest Pepsi Generation, filled with young kids, the very hippest kids, dressing and dancing like Michael in the streets, making Pepsi the drink of their generation.
And on and on and on, through Britney Spears, Cindy Crawford and more, always the Pepsi Generation of the young -- and very young. And the most hip around.
Until this latest ad, where that's all out the window, and it's now suddenly the soft drink of your mom and dad and your grandparents.
Products change their ad campaigns all the time. And Pepsi has held on to theirs for a really long time, Since the 1960s. That's amazing. So, there's absolutely nothing wrong or even surprising with them doing so. It's just that I don't recall a product coming up with a new campaign that not only says the exact opposite of its previous campaign, but the exact opposite of how it's iconically identified itself for half a century.
Nothing wrong about that at all. Just surprising and worth noting.
For the past 10 years on Bill Gates' blog, "Gates Notes," he and his wife Melinda post their annual letter about their huge foundation. This year, for the tenth anniversary they did something different, and it's very interested. The each separately answered the "10 Toughest Questions We Get."
And the questions are good, and blunt. I don't think they're as "tough" (as in difficult to answer) as they are blunt, but they certainly aren't softball.
Here are the questions:
• Why don’t you give more to the United States?
• What do you have to show for the billions you’ve spent on U.S. education?
• Why don’t you give money to fight climate change?
• Are you imposing your values on other cultures?
• Does saving kids’ lives lead to overpopulation?
• How are President Trump’s policies affecting your work?
• Why do you work with corporations?
• Is it fair that you have so much influence?
• What happens when the two of you disagree?
• Why are you really giving away your money–what’s in it for you?
You can read their individual responses here.
To draw attention to this, the couple appeared on Good Morning America. And then answered questions, as host Robin Roberts took questions from the studio audience.
Not long ago, I read an article on the legendary French actress Jeanne Moreau, and she talked about the famous scene in Truffaut's Jules and Jim, when she sings a song, "Le Tourbillon de la Vie." (The Wheel of Life.) She mentioned how the song was actually written for her years before by someone she had been in a relationship with, but she now associates the song with the movie, rather than as having been written for her.
Here's that scene from the 1960 film. Without a translation and context. it's sweet, though a bit sing-songy. But still enjoyable in its charm. I post it here, though, for a particular reason, which I'll get to down below.
To make things more comprehensible, though, here is an English translation -- or if you just want to sing along. (The song has a lot of verses -- a lot -- though goes quickly, only about two minutes. But if you want to skip the lyrics, just scroll waaaaay down to the video. Otherwise, ici, les mots -- )
She had rings on every finger
Tons of bracelets around her wrists
And then she used to sing with a voice
That, immediately, seduced me.
She had eyes, eyes like opal
That fascinated me, that facinated me
The oval of her pale face
Of a femme fatale who was fatal to me
We met, we recognized each other,
We lost sight of each other, we lost sight again
We met again, we heated up each other,
Then we separated
Each one is gone
In the whirl of life
I've seen her one day at night, ouch, ouch, ouch,
It's been a long time now ( x 2)
To the sound of banjos I recognized her.
This strange smile that was so appealing to me.
Her voice so irresistible, her beautifull pale face
Moved me more than ever.
I got drunk listening to her.
The alcohol makes forget time.
I woke up feeling
Kisses on my burning forehead
We met, we recognized each other
We lost sight of each other, we lost sight again
We met again, we heated up each other
Then we separated.
Each one is gone
In the whirl of life
I saw her again one night ah!
She fell into my arms again
When we met
When we recognized each other
why lose sight,
And lose sight again?
When we find each other
When we warm again each other
Then both, we got back
Into the whirl of life
We kept on turning
Both of us interlaced
Both of us interlaced
Ahhh, but as I alluded to above, there is a reason why I mention this and post the song -- and it's because of this video below that I came across. It's the French singer-songwriter-actress-model Vanessa Paradis, who sings "Le Tourbillon de la Vie" at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival -- with Jeanne Moreau sitting in the front row.
I'm guessing that there was an event that night honoring her. And what makes the video special is that Moreau has a microphone herself who sings along, and it slightly builds a bit from there.
And just for a fun bonus -- I came across this by accident while tracking the others. Here is Keira Knightley singing the song and accompanying herself on guitar in a commercial for the Chanel jewelry line that was released only three months ago, this past November.
(And what the heck, I throw in an addition connection -- the aforementioned Vanessa Paradis is a Chanel model, as well...)
Yesterday, I mentioned the note I got from Jack Moline about how the Interfaith Alliance he's president of had consulted with Toyota about their Super Bowl ad for the Tundra. The commercial was shown during halftime, and if you missed it, here it is. He was right, it was a fun one --
So, if you saw that TV ad for Dodge Ram during the Super Bowl which used a speech by Martin Luther King and were a little taken aback by it -- fear not, you weren't alone. And not only that, someone actually found a speech that Reverend King gave denouncing not only the way ads can mislead our dreams but specifically singled out...yes, car ads! And then the person edit that Dodge Ram ad and overlayed the speech instead of the one the car company used.
For those of you planning to watch the Super Bowl commercials in between gameplay interruptions, I pass along word from Elisberg Industries Vice-President of Telecommunications Rabbi Jack Moline, who in his spare time serves as president of the Interfaith Alliance. He said to watch for the Toyota Tundra ad. His organization consulted on it, and his official word on the ad is that it's just a hoot. (I should note that in high school, Jack and I had a weekly radio show on comedy and also did a documentary for the school radio station WNUR about "What Makes People Laugh?, which we later expanded as a college term paper at the beloved Northwestern. It even included an "exclusive" interview with Joan Rivers, who we ran into at the National Association of Broadcasters convention when we went into Chicago with our trusty tape recorder to get man-on-the-street interviews. So, he knows he comedy stuff. I just went along for the ride. And future religious guidance...) He makes clear that this is not his spiritual endorsement to buy a Toyota – but his professional advice to enjoy the commercial.
By the way, if you recall the Amazon ad during last year's Super Bowl that had a priest and imam who buy each other knee-pads, Interfaith Alliance consulted on that, as well.
For those preparing Super Bowl ads for next year, call 1-800-INTERFAITH. Ask for Jack...
You may recall that three months ago, I posted a wonderful 3-minute video here that Burger King produced about bullying. If you haven't seen it, check it out, it's terrific.
They're back with another terrific video shot again in one of their restaurants on a topical story, this one a bit more surprising because it's not only taking a stand on a political issue, but one against the government. It explains Net Neutrality in the context of buying burgers, and makes their position strongly in favor of it.
What I don't know if these videos is how much is "real" and how much set up. My sense with both is that there's a mixture -- some things seem like they might be set up (and therefore more controllable), and some things appear to be real that they let play out. And then edit it all together. That's a little bit moot, since the point of what they're doing is what's important, more than how it's done. Though how it's done is still fascinating.
The bottomline is that I have HUGE admiration for Burger King for this video, as well as for their anti-bullying video. I don't know who at Burger King has decided to do this, but they deserve a raise. And customers.
Burger King just released an awfully-impressive 3-minute anti-bullying spot online. It starts off pretty odd, but then takes a strong turn.
Hat's off to them for tackling the subject and in such a fascinating way.
Robert J. Elisberg is a two-time recipient of the Lucille Ball Award for comedy screenwriting. He's written for film, TV, the stage, and two best-selling novels, and is a regular columnist for the Huffington Post and the Writers Guild of America. Among his other writing, he has a long-time column on technology (which he sometimes understands), and co-wrote a book on world travel. As a lyricist, he is a member of ASCAP, and has contributed to numerous publications.
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