Yet Another Holiday Message from Our Sponsor

For some reason, this doesn’t come up on the lists of “Best Holiday Commercials”, though the knock-off one by Budweiser with their Clydesdales does. It’s got great simplicity, great visuals, great music, and it isn’t trying to sell you anything. It’s just a one-minute long Christmas card from the Miller Brewing Co. to everyone:

I don’t watch much TV these days, so I haven’t really noticed what’s current in holiday TV ads. But there’s one sort that really gets my goat – those car ads where the husband buys a new car for his wife. The ones where the car has the big ribbon and bow on it.

I know that we shouldn’t expect TV World to be an accurate reflection of reality – but who does this? Who buys a luxury car for someone as a Christmas present? Yeah, there are people who a so stinking rich that they could if they wanted to, but those aren’t the people shown in the ads.

The couples/families in the ads look to be upper middle class. The sorts of people that would not be making a major purchase – like a luxury car – without full knowledge and consultation of everyone. I can picture the wife, when the cameras stop rolling, saying, “Wait a minute. How much did you spend on this? And where did you get that kind of money? What about the monthly payments? Who’s paying the insurance on it? What made you think I would want to have this exact car?” And then snowballs (because it’s always a snowy scene in these ads) and worse being thrown about in anger.

Then there’s the subtle sexism in the ads. You never see a *wife* buying the car, do you. A lot of TV ads have what could be called “reverse sexism” in them. The husband/man tends to be shown as stupid, sloppy, forgetful, and incompetent – the wife/woman is the one who somehow fixes everything. It doesn’t tick me off that much; I figure it’s a sort of payback for all the sexism against women over the decades (or centuries). If you don’t believe that this exists, next time you see a TV ad with a husband and wife, imagine it with the roles reversed….

Anyway, enjoy your holidays. And may you get something that’s actually practical and useful – and doesn’t require any extra payments on your part.

 

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On the Holiday Window Displays

Since I was in Manhattan recently, with time to kill, I took the opportunity to stroll up Fifth Avenue and check out the big holiday displays – Lord & Taylor, Saks, Tiffany, Bergdorf Goodman.

L&T had their usual fantasy scenes. I couldn’t get close enough to Saks to see what was in their windows, but they did have their big light and sound show on the facade.

Pro Tip: The best way to see the Rockefeller Center tree? Come at it from Sixth Ave, or one of the side streets. It is practically impossible to approach it from Fifth Avenue, because that’s where the mob of humanity is forced into tight passageways. Approach the tree from another direction, and you can get right up to it!

TIffany featured some nice winter scenes with silver and diamonds. Bergdorf Goodman saluted NYC cultural attractions in their windows.

While I have no problems with any of the displays, I do have some ideas for things I’d like to see…

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A Christmas Mix for You – Vol 4

Well, it’s that time again.

I’ve kind of fallen into the common trap with these collections. You gather all your favorites, and find you have too many for one collection. So you pick a few to go in Volume 1, and then add a few that didn’t quite make the cut to the batch for next year. And then the next year, you find you’ve got only a few “favorites”, so you do your best to pad out the collection to make something worth putting together and sharing. Then, you realize you somehow forgot a few, but four or five songs do not really make a “mix tape”, so you pad it out with general stuff that you hope people like…

Well, there it is. I’ve got a few more (three or four) that I could toss out next year. Kind of like stocking stuffers when compared to the big gifts. Or I could just repost the first Mix from 2014. We’ll see what I feel like next November, when I start thinking about this.

Anyway, here’s the link:

http://www.dropbox.com/s/lcdt2075r2ln0ka/Chirstmas%20Mix%204%20-%202017.zip?dl=0

And here’s the list of songs:

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SNOWFLAKES HAVE SIX SIDES

So we put up the office Christmas decorations this week, and there were a couple that really got me peeved.

I suppose they were intended to represent snowflakes, but they were like no snowflake that ever existed on this planet. Instead of the natural hexagonal symmetry (six sides), they had octagonal symmetry (eight sides) – eight branches coming off the center in a squarish pattern.

Here’s a photo of an honest to goodness real snowflake:

A real snowflake! The way nature intends them to be!

See that? SIX SIDES! Here are more photos of the types of actual snowflakes, in all their amazing variety:

http://www.thoughtco.com/snowflake-crystal-shapes-609172

The one thing they have in common? SIX SIDES.

Here’s a photo of the sort of thing that got put up around the office:

NOT SNOWFLAKES

I suppose the reason these abominations exist is because people are too lazy to bother learning the trick to making the necessary hexagonal fold.

But come on, it’s not that hard. And there are plenty of “How To” websites, like this one:

http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-6-Pointed-Paper-Snowflakes/

If you prefer watching a video:

I actually use that method for the hexagonal fold, but I’ve never ironed them. Instead, I pause when I’ve made that dart shape and before I begin cutting. I unfold the paper, smooth out all the creases, and then fold it back up.

Pro Tips: The thinner the paper, the easier it is to fold and cut. Use sharp scissors! Also, always make straight line cuts. No curves! Real snowflakes do NOT have curves!

If you make a mistake cutting them, or they don’t look good, don’t worry. It’s just paper! Toss the defective ones in the Recycling Bin (White Paper Only), and make another.

So do it right and make your own individual unique snowflakes, OK?

Another Holiday Message from our Sponsor

It’s probably the most unusual version of “Deck the Halls” you will hear.

La Senza is a Canadian-based lingerie company. Back in 2010, they wanted to make it known that they had garments in the larger, hard-to-find sizes. Their ad agency noticed that there was a correlation between cup sizes and musical notes….

The campaign – a video and website – was launched in the beginning of December, 2010. The website not only linked to the store so you could purchase the featured items, but had an interactive app where you could “play” and even record your own tune.

The video is below the jump; it’s a lingerie ad (YouTube has it as “age restricted”), so it’s probably Not Really Safe For Work.

Unless you work someplace sexy.

In which case, can I send you my resume?

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How Chemists Decorate a Christmas Tree

Back in 2007, Brady Haran was making short films on science for the BBC and the University of Nottingham. Some of the material – scientists talking about their work in an informal setting – was uploaded to YouTube under the name “Test Tube”. The next year, he teamed up with Professor Martyn Poliakoff to make short videos about each chemical element. The “Periodic Videos” YouTube channel branched out to discuss molecules and other chemistry-related topics, and has earned praise from scientists, educators, and the media. Haran has branched out; he now has over a dozen channels covering everything from word origins (Words of the World) to psychology (Psyfile) to the history of science (Objectivity).

The above video is from 2009.

I’d have put caffeine on the tree, myself…….

Christmas with Mr. Weebl

You’ll find a lot of people on YouTube these days who consider themselves celebrities. But none of them can hold a candle to Jonti Picking of the UK. An animator and musician, he uploaded his first video to the Web in June of 2002. It featured two egg-shaped beings called “Weebl” and “Bob”. Since then, he’s produced something like 200 videos, and has done some professional advertising work.

Over the years, Weebl and Bob have appeared in a number of Christmas-themed shorts. This one is #4:

In addition to Weebl and Bob, he’s done a few other series (with their own Christmas episodes):

“On the Moon” with the Toast King and Insanity Prawn Boy:

“Cat Face”, about a giant-headed floating cat:

For 2013 through 2015, he did “Advent Calendars” – one short animation per day for December, leading up to Christmas. Here are all the videos from 2014 in one convenient place:

Picking’s production seems to have tailed off recently. One can forgive him; fourteen years on the Internet is a very, very, VERY long time.

Well, if by chance you come across this, thanks for all the laughs, Mr. Picking, and a Merry Christmas to you and yours!

A Christmas Mix for You – 2016

This could turn out to be a habit. I’ve collected so much Christmas music over the years (around 7 GB worth!) from various places around the Internet, including many music sharing blogs, that I feel rather compelled to share some of my favorite finds with you.

Here’s this year’s collection.

Over an hour of holiday, well, cheer – I hope.

The list after the jump.

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Seasons Greetings from Apollo 8

Apollo 8 was originally planned to be a test of the Lunar Module in Earth orbit in early 1969. But in September of 1968, the Soviets had sent a couple of animals around the Moon – and brought them back safely. Clearly, they were well ahead of us in getting to the Moon. When the LEM kept having engineering problems, the manager of the Apollo Spacecraft Program Office, George Low, suggested that they simply send the Command & Service Module combination into lunar orbit. It would mean rushing things, but it was something that would have to be done anyway.

Apollo 8 lifted off at 7:51 AM EST on December 21, with Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot Bill Anders aboard. Once at the Moon, they orbited it ten times, checking equipment. Bill Anders did most of the reconnaissance photography, checking potential landing sites.

On December 24, they gave a special broadcast, with over a billion people listening in.

The Command Module splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 8°8′N 165°1′W at 10:51:42 EST December 27. Total mission duration was 6 days, 3 hours, 42 seconds. Apollo 8 came back with a ton of “Firsts”: First manned flight of a Saturn V. First launch from the Kennedy Space Center. First manned mission beyond Earth orbit. First manned mission to reach the Moon…. From a technical standpoint, this was a much greater achievement than Apollo 11. By July of 1969, all the engineering problems had been solved. Apollo 8 was when we proved we could actually send men to the Moon and bring them back safely.