Posts tagged ‘America’

One may be familiar with the concept of the armchair quarterback or the Monday morning quarterback, but over the past 45 years, the aftermath of the Super Bowl has changed considerably.  The Monday morning quarterbacks discussing the various aspects of the previous day’s game (and identifying what their particular team could have/should have done differently to bring about a more satisfactory outcome) have been replaced by the Monday morning Ad Executives.

When I went to work this morning, I expected to hear discussions regarding last night’s Super Bowl.  The Steelers fans would be talking about how their team just did not pick up enough steam soon enough, and while they played their hearts out during the second half, if it had only come sooner or lasted longer, they would have won.  The Packer fans would be talking about how amazing it was that they were able to fight off the Steelers in the second half despite a plethora of injuries to key players.  But no.  The vast majority of discussions centered around the Super Bowl commercials.  What was your favorite?  Which ones did you like?  Which ones just did not work?  Everyone seems to know how and why the different ads worked or didn’t work.  Fox Sports has even gone so far as to allow web viewers to vote on the ads, giving a “thumbs up” to the ones they like and the “thumbs down” to the ones that just don’t do it.  And just in case you were lured away from this great American tradition by the likes of the Puppy Bowl, Enchanted, or Netflix (or you were just in a cave somewhere), you can screen the Super Bowl ads here.

Personally, there were a couple that caught my attention.  As a parent, the Volkswagen/Star Wars commercial has to be my favorite.  For pure fun, I like the Bud Light “Product Placement“, Bridgestone Tires, and Doritos “Healing Chips”.  I thought there were a few too many upcoming movie ads.  I can understand the studios wanting to put their new releases into the minds of the public, but it just seemed like a little bit of overkill, considering that these same movie trailer commercials will be airing on every station day and night for the next one-to-six months, depending upon when the movie is released.  There were a few ads that really didn’t work for me.  I could have skipped both of the Eminem ads.  I felt the tea one was lame, and the Chrysler commercial was somewhat ambiguous, in that it was hard to tell if Eminem was endorsing Chrysler or the city of Detroit.  Actually, many of the car commercials were just humdrum – not a lot of entertainment value, just “here’s our new car and this is what makes it special”.  And none of them really seemed that special (aside from the aforementioned VW ad).

Over the past 45 years, Super Bowl ads have evolved from just putting a product in front of one of the annually largest TV viewing audiences to being part of why that audience is so large.  The comment that seemed to be repeated the most this morning was, “I didn’t really have a great interest in the game, I just watched it for the commercials.”  In truth, there was a point during the evening that I was in my son’s room, putting away clean clothes, and racing out to the living room only when the action on the field was coming to a stop.  All of this begs the question: What is the future evolution of the Super Bowl ad?  I foresee a day when a DVD of the ads is available to order as soon as the game is over, with the proceeds going to some charity or cause endorsed by the NFL.  Or, possibly a TV special, airing a week or so after the game, that consists of nothing but Super Bowl TV spots.  Of course, if that ever happens, only the football fans would watch the game.  The rest of us would be free to watch the Puppy Bowl, or whatever else tickled our fancies, and set our TIVO’s up to record the commercials.  Just don’t hit that “skip the ads” button.

Ver·klempt´ – adj.  To be overcome with emotion; extremely emotional.

Maybe it is a sign of getting older, or maybe it is just hormones, but I am finding that more and more things affect me in ways I did not foresee.  On the first day of school, I watched the 3-yr-old climb (literally, climb because they are so big) up the steps of the school bus and head to his new preschool.  My best friend asked me if I was OK, or did she need me to come over and give me a shoulder to cry on.  I told her I was fine, and I was.  To me, watching my child go off to school is no big deal.  I am excited for him and the adventures he will have there, but there are other things that have me totally bewildered.  And the ironic thing is that most of them are things that don’t even directly affect me personally, it is just the situations that get me all choked up.

There are some that I have come to expect.  Movies with tragic stories fall into this category.  You know the kind – the ones where, when you ask someone if they liked the movie, they say, “I cried during the movie, but it was a good cry.”  I am not really sure what that means, but if I am planning on seeing one of these, I make sure I have some tissues along.  I also have difficulty when I hear about harm coming to a child, but not just any harm.  When I read the paper and there is a story about a parent or other caregiver who did something to injure or kill a child, I don’t get upset, per se, I get angry.  There is no Hell good enough for those people who would willingly injure a child.  No, it is the stories of children dying from a dreadful cancer they couldn’t overcome or being hit by a car while playing that get to me.  Those “There-but-for-the-Grace-of-God-go-I” situations hit me right in the gut.

More recently, I have found myself getting worked up over those things related to pride and patriotism.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am very proud of who I am and where I come from, but I never considered myself a Flag-Waving, G0d-and-Country kind of girl.  However, things are beginning to change.  Things like the singing of our national anthem.  I have heard this song and sung this song thousands of times in my lifetime, but nowadays I find it difficult to get all the way through the song without a catch somewhere.  I choked back the tears when I saw workers in New Orleans rebuilding after the devastation of Katrina.  I held my breath while the waters climbed the banks in Nashville and prayed for the kids from our church who went to the scene three weeks after the floods receded.  And I have cried outright when seeing troop-related coverage on TV and in person.

The most recent event that caught me off-guard occurred this morning.  For the past several days, the local paper and news media have been covering the story of a local man who joined the Marines and was killed in Afghanistan.  Several friends on Facebook had posted comments related to honoring fallen heroes, but most were the generic sort of messages you see at times like this.  This soldier returned home earlier this week, and his funeral was this morning.  Until 10 days ago, I had never heard of this man.  I never met him or his family.  To the best of my knowledge, our paths never crossed.  I did not attend his visitation and was at work this morning during the funeral.  I had read the stories in the paper and looked at the pictures, but none of it meant much to me until I was at work this morning and saw the fire department blocking off our road at the corner.  I was a little confused, until I realized that the funeral procession to the cemetery was about to pass by.  The procession was amazing.  I can’t remember ever seeing anything like it.  It was led by two motorcycle officers, followed by a contingent of police, fire, and sheriff’s department vehicles, all with lights flashing.  Next came the motorcycles – 40 or 50 riders on a variety of bikes, some single riders, some with passengers behind, a few flying large American flags off their back bumpers.  The hearse, the limos, and the throng of assembled friends and family followed.  Trucks and cars with flags.  SUVs with farewell messages written on the windows.  It took a full 20 minutes for the entire parade to pass by.

As the procession was approaching our building, I was right in the middle of helping one of our customers.  As the cars went by, time seemed to stop.  I lost all track of what I was doing, and found myself staring, with one hand over my open mouth, while tears flowed silently and unceasingly down my face.  I stood there, watching, and was completely unaware of anything around me.  Nothing seemed to exist except this solemn, quiet parade passing by.  Slowly, I started to regain my sense of place and become aware of my surroundings.  I have no idea what the woman I was helping was thinking, but she seemed rather put out that she would not be able to jump in her car and drive away, as all the roads were blocked off.  I was appalled as I overheard another customer make a comment to the effect that if someone was stupid enough to join the military, they deserved whatever they got.  Right then, my sorrow turned to anger, and I just wanted to scream.  For the life of me, I could not wrap my head around how this person could be so callous as to not be affected by the devastation that this young man’s death had caused those who loved him.  I realized then how lucky I am, not only to live in a place where a young man would voluntarily sacrifice his life for his country, but also to not be so jaded that I am unable to appreciate that sacrifice.

Rest in peace, RJ.  You did good.

I was recently going through “memorabilia” I had set aside to scrapbook, and found several newspapers my husband brought home from a business trip to Ottawa, Canada.  Looking at it, I was struck by the differences between American media and Canadian media.  Now, assuming it was not just a slow news day, the cover stories on the paper I picked up included coverage of a memorial for the 20th anniversary of the bombing of Air-India flight 182, a gathering of dragon boat crews in Vancouver (all of whom were breast cancer survivors), and a controversial museum display to be exhibited in Toronto.  No murders.  No robberies.  No “bad” news.  The closest they got to bad news was coverage of a US Supreme Court decision that ruled against the “little guy” in favor of the government and that the Canadian government had issued a travel visa to relatives of a hard-line Syrian general so that the general’s grandchildren could be born in Canada, and thus being able to claim joint citizenship.  Amazing.

I thought maybe it was a fluke.  A slow news day.  So I looked at the other papers my husband had brought home.  A new artistic director for the National Ballet of Canada.  Breast cancer survivors fighting for a new drug.  The Conservative party in the government fighting a bill in Parliament.  A former immigration minister accused of “misdeeds” by handing out travel visas to friends and relatives of staff members.  This was, by Canadian standards, shocking.  But, by far, the most intriguing story – on the front page, no less – “Don’t ostracize convicted killer, criminologist warns”:

Convicted killer [name excluded] risks falling into the wrong hands at the “margins” of society unless Canadians help her rebuild her life when she leaves prison, says a group helping ease her re-entry to society.  Attempts to ostracize [her] when she completes her jail sentence in less than 12 days could backfire.  “Someone who’s banished is more vulnerable to all sorts of influences and all sorts of people.  She is not sheltered from that.  She would be at risk.”  It is not in the public’s interest to marginalize [her] no matter how distasteful people find her, or how much revulsion they feel about her crimes.

The article did not mention anything about the crimes for which the woman was imprisoned, so I had to look her up.  That, in and of itself, I found to be interesting.  Read any story in your local paper about a trial or sentencing of a criminal, and the story will include a “recap” of the crimes in question.  It turns out that this woman had served 12 years for manslaughter for her part in the most heinous sex-crimes murders, with multiple victims, in recent Canadian history.  But no mention of the crimes in the article at all.  Nothing to remind the public who this person was.  I could only assume that the public needed no reminder.  And yet, here were professional criminologists, on the front page of the Canadian national newspaper, urging their fellow citizens to accept that she had served her time and was rehabilitated.

Based upon what I read out on the internet, the woman is very lucky she is a Canadian.  The crimes she was accused of were so vicious that any prosecutor here in the “States” would have sought the death penalty, and there would have been no problem with securing that sentence.  But what amazed me the most about the story was that, even though this horrendous monster was about to be released, the professionals involved with the case were not warning the public, but chastising them.  Several communities had already voiced their displeasure at the prospect of this woman relocating to their vicinity, and a home that had been under construction for her by her parents had been burned to the ground before the building was complete.

It made me think of the vast differences between our society and that of our neighbors to the north.  Statistically speaking, they have about 100 times the number of guns per capita than the US, and yet gun crimes are almost non-existent.  The vast majority of the population lives in very close proximity to each other within 200 miles of the US-Canadian border, but still familiarity does not seem to breed contempt as it does here.  Everyone is just so nice.  No greater example could be made than the display of Canadian hospitality and warmth during this year’s Olympic Games in Vancouver.  Maybe courtesy and gentility are not dead, just a little further north.

As Americans, we pride ourselves on being the “Melting Pot” of the world.  “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”  I wonder, did the “wretched refuse” of Canada end up here?  Maybe that is why the only headlines we see in our American papers are sensational ones.  Corruption!  Murder!  Bombings!  Conspiracy!  Scandal!  Have all the good folks left?  Are the only ones still here the “homeless, tempest-tossed”?  The optimist in me says, “NO!  WE ARE STILL HERE!”

I have to believe it is true.