Pack up your troubles, kids

I frequently wonder at the choices that marketing and advertising people make. I wonder if they come up with those choices on their own, or if they grudgingly implement the desires of their clients despite their own misgivings. Are they ignorant of the connotations, or do they go into things eyes wide open, fully understanding (or just not caring).

The latest Dell Inspiron 15R commercial shows school children stuffing their backpacks and then repeatedly falling over from the weight, over which you can hear “Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile, smile, smile.” *

And I wonder if the advertising people who came up with that know the history of the song as a WWI marching song, or have ever really listened to the lyrics…even just the rest of the lyrics in the chorus:

Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag,
And smile, smile, smile,
While you’ve a lucifer to light your fag,
Smile, boys, that’s the style.

That’s right. Smoke ’em while you got ’em, kids.
You never know when a stray enemy ball might take you out at recess.

School is hell, y’all.

* The commercial version of the song was supposedly sung by James Mann, based on an arrangement of the song by the Minnutes. If anyone cares.


Guerrilla Xmas cheer

Improv Everywhere is a performance art comedy group that stages missions — essentially highly-organized, good-natured, mostly pseudo flash mob (plus some genuine flash mob) pranks — on the unwary for the amusement and entertainment of them and the rest of us. Check out their blog for details, pictures, and videos of their 100+ missions, which are always an awesome romp. Or, if you want to avoid the behind-the-scenes look at how the events happen (though, why would you?), you can always skip right to their YouTube channel.

Their latest caper, the Guerrilla Handbell Strikeforce, is a testament to how uplifting small, seemingly random acts of joy-giving can be.

Standing around in the cold, ringing a bell and hoping people will donate to the Salvation Army can be a rough gig. Having a bell choir unexpectedly show up to join in is going to boost your spirits, no matter how grumpy you are. (Unless you reeeallly hate bells and/or bell choirs.) The look on the Sally Ann bell ringer’s face says it all.

Joy to the world, indeed.

(As an aside, the comments on the post for this mission frequently stray into whether the Salvation Army is a worthy organization since they don’t allow gay people to join. Ithinkyernuts’ comment that “[…] hating people who hate gays is still hating” is something worth keeping in mind — if you want less hate in the world, you need to start with yourself.)

Simon’s Cat “Snow Business” part 1

I’m successfully avoiding doing anything really useful, including finishing some of my draft posts, so I thought I’d continue the trend by pointing out that Simon Tofield has brought us a new animation in his Simon’s Cat series:

Too bad it’s only part one. Here’s also an interview with Simon, giving some background information on the videos:

His book of Simon’s Cat cartoons is available now (which reminds me that I need to put the Simon’s Cat t-shirt I bought earlier in the year in the parcel I’m sending to my parents). I’d been thinking it was essentially rehashing stuff we’d already seen (think I’ve seen too many blogs and other sites that create calendars and books just repackaging the best of their previous content), but it’s actually new cartoons.

A long weekend wasted…

…is a long weekend enjoyed.

Got very little accomplished, but watched loads of old Brady Bunch and Family Affair episodes courtesy of RetroTeeVee at Youtube. (Just load the playlist you want and you’re golden for hours.)

Family Affair in particular was a favourite show when I was a kid. I loved Mr. French. We lived in and around Sidney, BC, in the early 70s and one house we lived in was down the road from where Sebastian Cabot lived. That was more exciting than pretty much anything I could imagine at the time. Weird to think that most of the episodes I saw were probably already in reruns by the time I saw them originally.

The song that’s stuck in your head

I woke up this morning with Dan Fogelberg’s “The Leader of the Band” going through my head. I have no idea why. I wake up to my TV, not the radio, and I don’t remember hearing the song on the TV. I didn’t hear it last night, nor at any time in the last several months. Yet there it is, playing continuously in my head, all morning.

Perhaps there are stray thoughts of my father percolating in my head, manifesting as this song. “And, Papa, I don’t think I said I love you near enough.”

I’m in a weird, sad, and melancholy mood the last couple of days. Last night, I had sudden and vivid recollections of the summer day our first dog died of a heart attack in our backyard. It’s been almost 30 years and I still feel it keenly.

Where were you when…?

The Alarm‘s “Where Were You Hiding When the Storm Broke?” is going through my head right now.

I wish I could get away from the Michael Jackson coverage, but it’s everywhere. And it’s going to be EVERYWHERE for days, if not weeks or months. Someone wrote that they’d remember forever what they were doing when they heard the news, just like they still remembered what they were doing when they heard that Elvis Presley had died. I tried to think if there were any celebrity or high-profile deaths I would always remember in that way. There aren’t many.

I don’t remember what I was doing when I heard that Jim Henson died, but I remember putting a black armband (left over from a Tienanmen Square solidarity march I’d attended in 1989) on a baby Kermit stuffed toy I had.

I remember what I was doing when I heard that Freddie Mercury (lead singer of Queen) had died in 1991. I was a majorly huge Queen fan for most of my formative years and seeing his obvious health decline culminate in his death was tragic and heartbreaking.

I remember I was watching “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” in 1997 when news of Lady Di‘s accident and subsequent death came through in a breaking news story. It was my first experience with that kind of massive news overload and that’s what I remember more than her actual death. If she were to have died now, in this age of extreme coverage, I don’t know that I’d remember it at all.

I remember what I was doing when 9/11 occurred. Given the 24/7 news onslaught, it’d be impossible not to. It was a lost work day as people were glued to online news sites and televisions. I channel-surfed for days, watching anything and everything about it. I think that’s where most of my jaded thoughts originate.

That’s pretty much it…and, except for the fact that it’s documented in this blog, MJ’s death would never be one of those that I would be able to recall later.

A dark evening for Rogers customers

All Youtube videos return an “An error has occured, please try again later” error message.


Rogers says, “Oh, it’s not us.” An hour and half after the problem starts, Rogers finally gets notified by Youtube that the problem is on Youtube’s end. (I’m guessing someone at Youtube accidentally blocked Rogers IPs.)  It’s supposed to be fixed within 24 hours.

As a former tech support agent, I feel a little bad for the Rogers techies (who are probably working in the call center I used to work in) who were expecting a relatively calm afternoon and have suddenly been swamped by frantic users jonesing for their Youtube fix. At least now they have something concrete they can say instead of “It’s not on our end.”