And Then, In A Twinkling, I Heard On The Roof…

They’re done replacing the roof.

I didn’t mention they were replacing the roof? That’s OK, I didn’t know about it until the night before the work started either. So I had a day of various workers scurrying across the rooftop, ripping up shingles and nails and throwing everything to the ground from high above. I had to yell “COMING OUT!” if I went outside so they would know to stop throwing shingles and nails for a few seconds, and I wondered if neighbors would get the wrong impression about me hearing those two words screamed out loud by someone who doesn’t currently have a girlfriend. I’m not even sure if the workers heard me above all the noise but nothing fell on my head.

They covered the windows and front door with some sort of tarp for half the afternoon so I was actually trapped in my apartment for a while. But I wasn’t going anywhere anyway so it wasn’t that much of a big deal. It was eerie there for a while though, the windows blackened by a covering, the light in the apartment fading in and out as the wind blew it around.

They finished the roof in a day and a half, so now I have a nice new landing pad for Santa to land on.

Speaking of all things Christmas and Merriment (TM), over at Professor Barnhardt’s Journal, I’m posting a bunch of the best Christmas commercials. Or maybe it’s just my favorites. But they’re good ones, and some of them you’ll remember. Like this one.

That brings back memories, doesn’t it? It’s from 1986.

They remade the ad a couple of years ago, and the new version is rather awful. Oh, sure, if the old Peter commercial didn’t exist and this one just appeared maybe it would be the one we love and remember. But the old one does exist, and the new one just seems like a lame imitation. Judge for yourself.

There are a few things that irk me about the new spot.

First off, the line “it’s a long way from West Africa.” There’s something I hate that I can’t quite put my finger on. I think it’s because the line just feels so force, shoe-horned in to make this guy seem like such a saint. He’s not off working or making money somewhere, he’s helping people halfway across the globe! Or maybe I’m just reading too much into it (don’t think so though).

You notice in the old ad they don’t even mention where Peter has been. We’re probably supposed to assume college, but it could have been a 5 year prison stint. But he does come home with a ton of gifts for his family. The new Peter was too busy being noble to bring back anything besides his bag (with the giant VOLUNTEER stitched on it, so prominent in the foreground of the shot) and something for his sister.

And can we talk about the sister? I know that 30 second commercials aren’t supposed to be deep and have a huge back story, but another reason I don’t like the ad is because I get the feeling that the brother and sister have been doing it for years. The way she smiles, the way she puts the bow on his chest, the way he smiles back at her.

Now this is where you say, wow, now you’re really trying to read something into it that isn’t there. Probably. But you do notice that when he goes to the door the girl says the awkward one word line “Sister!” while pointing to herself? I wonder if the agency looked at it and said, “yeah…we should throw in a line so viewers know they’re siblings.”

Oh, it’s just a coffee commercial! Grab a cup and have a Merry Christmas!

I wonder why Folgers just didn’t do a sequel to the original spot, if they wanted a new commercial? We can find out what happened to Peter and his little sister and his parents. Do they live in the same house? Did Peter get married? They can show the whole family getting together during the holidays, with Peter’s kids running around the tree, the family still drinking Folgers after all these years. Maybe we can even find out what happened to that sweater.

Over At Professor Barnhardt’s Journal…

Two new things happening over at my web mag Professor Barnhardt’s Journal.

1. I’m posting classic (and future classic) Christmas commercials. First up is a great series of British ads for Schweppes. I’ll try to post two or three commercials a week until the end of the month.

2. There’s an excerpt from the terrific new essay collection by Larry Doyle, Deliriously Happy and Other Bad Thoughts. The book would make a great gift for the people on your list who like, you know, funny, smart writing.