Wednesday, July 05, 2006

If you can't stand the heat, change the channel

As I watched le Tour yesterday morning, after taking Barky on a walk in the oppressive heat, I had a question for y'all. It's a question that I have every year about le Tour, one that becomes more urgent as every minute of coverage passes.

First, about that oppressive heat--commenting on the heat, Phil "Crazy Legs" Liggett said that at about noon it was 86 F with 40% humidity on le Tour course. That's hot?


By 8:30 it was so muggy here that I felt like we were swimming up the sidewalk back home. In the shade and seven stories up, it was already 85 F with 60% humidity, and it didn't get any cooler. It was hot, and wet, which ain't no good if you're in the jungle. . .or if you're pregnant in NoVa. Which is why we stayed in the air conditioning, watching le Tour (Papa) and reading The Poisonwood Bible (Mama).

About that question that I have for y'all. . .a week and a half ago, I posted a little poll about dads going to doctor visits. It revealed three facts about y'all:

  • Turns out there are now six loyal readers.
  • All of the six are old school Chicago or Texas voters, as in "vote early, vote often." Otherwise, how to explain the 14 votes? (The extra two? Must be Barky and 3B voted. Sneaky devils.)
  • Most of the loyal six go to every doctor appointment that they can.
What conclusions can I draw from that? If only I had a statistician on the Bradstein Household staff, I could tell you. . .if only I had a staff, I could be back out by the pool with Mama while the staff writes up our personal anecdotes.

But I'm not one to let little things like a lack of readers or conclusions keep me from having another go at a poll and, watching le Tour, I was again reminded of the nagging annual question:
What's the worst ad during Tour coverage?
This question becomes more urgent as the race progresses, since each ad plays on the order of 112,000 times during each day's coverage. I have to say that the situation has gotten better since the coverage in 2001, when every ad was for a brush cutter/lawnmower sort of thing.

Now, at least, there is some variety in the products being flogged, but each advertiser seems to have submitted only one ad, forgetting that this is not a one-off Super Bowl game, but a month-long race, with up to four hours of coverage each day. By the end of July, we're so familiar with the ads that Mama and I are singing along with them, in harmony, as our feet tap out a syncopated counter rhythm.

You can vote once a day, so you can pick your least favorite ad each day. If I've missed any, please let me know, or add a comment--and feel free to comment about the ads. The one that I've left off is, which is a worthwhile ad, and not just because the major partners are also major supporters of Mama's work.

What's the worst ad during le Tour coverage?
Mantis (that tiller thing)
SAAB (ready, steady, go!)
Cervelo (geekin' out on the carbon)
Honda (Kevin Spacey, baby)
Flomax (do I really want to hear about this?)
KFC (nothing goes better with biking than a bucket of trans fats)
Super 8 (throwing briefcases into beautiful lakes)
Geico (that gecko, which will likely die as a result of global warming)
Capital One (those cute pillagers)
Trek (they could have Lance or Bob Roll and they pick Bobke?)
Ditech (is there no escape from these?)
Progressive (see Ditech)
Earthlink (full disclosure: we use them for our hookup)
L.L. Bean (full disclosure: Mama grew up in Maine)
Video Professor (does anyone even use Windows ME anymore?)
Any of the lawyers, particularly James Sokolove
Michelob (what's a sporting event without a beer ad?)
AutoZone (what's with all the auto-themed ads during a bike race?)
Nissan (Shift_2.0? that's it?)
OLN (hockey, arena football, bull riding, and Survivor)
Free polls from


  1. Anonymous12:56 PM

    WOW too many to almost choose from. I will say I voted for the Vid Prof. Only because he is the slime of the crop. Seems if you order one of his free discs, you are then on the "Colubia House Train" except you cant get off of it. There are stories of old folks and general idiots who order his crap then cant get out of the deal.I have not checked on it in awhile so I could be wrong but I think there are court cases going on now.

    TCB thinking of the 3B coming soon....

  2. I'm a loyal reader and 3B fan, but there's been no TV since 2003. OK, I just said that because it rhymed, it's been since about 2001. I know who Lance Armstrong is (can't avoid the magazines at the checkout stand completely) but that's about it.

    And your post describes one of the main reasons we don't watch tv...advertising is major brain clutter.

  3. Anonymous9:15 PM

    Yeah, I'm with Henitsirk. We haven't had channels since May 2002.

    I do know who Lance is and I know the tour involves bikes, but other than that? Not. A. Clue.

  4. Anonymous11:56 AM

    To the readers W/Out TV. Did you just replace one form of crack with another in the Internet? Do u do DVDs? etc...

    we would dump our TV but I need the NFL Sunday Ticket, that where I can stare for hours at all the NFL games. Oh and our weekly NASCAR fix as well.

  5. Good question, King.

    Living, as we do, in a city that's been attacked three times since we moved here--9/11, anthrax, sniper--I'm not ready to pull the plug on a potential news source.

    And, as you point out, some events just aren't the same on the net, which is, I presume, the methadone program that TV addicts are using to kick the junk.

    I think that some of the "kill your TV" movement comes from the belief that TV can only dumb us down, but I believe that TV only shows us what we choose to watch. For someone who watches something dumb to blame TV is akin to someone blaming car manufacturers for drive-by shootings. What you do with the product that you buy is up to you.

    I also believe that TV is no substitute for actual experiences--it would be better to go to France and watch the Tour there. But in cases where an experience is out of reach--I can't afford to jet off to France for a month every summer--TV can be an adequate substitute.

    And it can educate us. I would never understand as fully as I do now, for example, the extent and difficulty of the struggles against disease throughout the world if it weren't for a TV series.

    I think that Murrow might have said it best:

    Because if they are right, and this instrument is good for nothing but to entertain, amuse and insulate, then the tube is flickering now and we will soon see that the whole struggle is lost. This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box.

  6. Yah, I admit I use DVD's, the internet and blogging as others might use TV. Unlike methadone, I can quit anytime :)

    We never had TiVo or anything that allowed us to skip commercials, we just used TV as a come-home-from-work-and-veg-out device. Then we realized how many hours of the day were spent in drooling unconsciousness, so we decided to opt out of that. Now we have kids who need to be playing not sitting still, so the TV is verboten because of them.

  7. Anonymous7:21 PM

    We are Netflix freaks. And all the good TV series are out on DVD which is great b/c we can watch them on our own time whenever we want. But renting '24' sucks b/c we literally can't do a show at a time, it's all 4 back to back to back to back to back. 4 hours of our night down the drain. So we've had to control that a bit.

    We read more. We go for walks. We talk. We go to bed at a decent time b/c we're not saying "Oh, just one more show." But the internet is also another type of addiction for us. I absolutley know there are tons of great educational shows out there--I'm a huge fan of Animal Planet. But there are also great nature documentaries too. Plus I have a mom that will tape some shows at our request. We aren't cave people, honest.

    But I don't know much about American Idol, Survivor, or Desperate Housewives; I'm not all that sad, either!

  8. OK, the one that I forgot, which perhaps should lead the voting: those Pennzoil ads. Who thought that those were a good idea?

    Unfortunately, I can't edit the poll now, so you'll just have to vote in the comments. Share your disdain every day, or add it up and pile it on at the end of the month. It's up to you.

    As for all the other comments, I think that we're all closer together on this than we are far apart. It sounds to me like everyone has the same goal: not letting TV make us drooling, lobotomized slugs. We each have our different ways of achieving that: DVR/TiVo, no cable/satellite, Netflix, the internet.

  9. We seem to have different ads on the West Coast from what you've got on the East. I've seen only one Flomax ad, but way too many for Saab. If they're selling airplanes, they could use better footage. And if they're selling cars, they shouldn't point out how lame their cars look next to fighter jets.

    Vive d'Huez!

  10. Oh, and I forgot: The Subaru ads tickle me because of the soundtrack. No hard feelings, Lance, but your ex is still in the Tour.